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Early Fire Emblem Engage Reviews Are All Saying The Same Thing

Critics have finally spoken on "Fire Emblem Engage," and the results are surprising. While early previews of the game let fans know it wouldn't be another "Fire Emblem: Three Houses," "Engage" doesn't leave fans hanging.

The premise of the game is the same as every "Fire Emblem" title, according to critics, but the unique twist introduced in "Emblem" is the 12 Ring Emblems. These essentially give a character some type of ability from characters in the past, which critics like Polygon's Mike Mahardy and The Verge's Ash Parrish had near endless praise for.

From the start, critics could tell a difference in the beauty of the game. Between the animated cutscenes and the visuals when fighting, "Engage" improved in every way possible. Jake Dekker from Gamespot explained that the art direction was generally more cohesive and felt different compared to past games in the series. The combat was another aspect of the game that was improved.

The combat is where Fire Emblem Engage shines

"Fire Emblem Engage" brought back the weapon triangle, a fundamental part of the tactical series that was removed in "Fire Emblem: Three Houses." Dekker called it "tighter than ever," as it returned to the series' origins. Dekker also pointed out that there's a new break mechanic centered around the weapon triangle, which makes it so that an enemy drops their weapon and can't counterattack under certain situations.

Brendan Graeber from IGN talked about the changes made to other areas of combat, specifically the healer class. The class, which had felt lackluster in the past, felt more on par with the rest of the character classes in "Engage" to Graeber.

These changes, combined with the new abilities from the Ring Emblems, give players even more ways to dominate the battlefield with impressive strategy. In fact, the combat proved the best part of the game for the majority of critics – Parrish called it "seductive," even.

The narrative leaves a lot to be desired

Unfortunately, the game's well-done combat wasn't mirrored in the story and characters according to critics. In fact, the characters were so bad that Parrish called them "hollow," and RPG Site's Adam Vitale explained that they rarely rose above cheesy, gimmicky RPG tropes. They also didn't expand the world overall, which took a big turn from "Fire Emblem: Three Houses." This was also a problem with the Support conversations for the Emblem characters, according to Dekker.

This has created a bit of a divide among critics based on what they value in the game. For those who loved the story and world of previous "Fire Emblem" games, "Fire Emblem Engage" completely dropped the ball. However, those who have been passionate "Fire Emblem" fans for the tactical gameplay thought "Engage" knocked it out of the park. Mahardy pointed out that the outstanding combat allowed players to come to care about the characters after taking them into battle, which was a different take on player-character bonding.

Overall, the Switch's second "Fire Emblem" title is a divisive, but ultimately a great tactical game that lacks a bit in the narrative area. "Fire Emblem Engage" will be available on January 20, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, and players can purchase the Divine Edition for an upgraded experience.