The latest entry in Nintendo's quintessential series of turn-based tactics games delivers a fresh cast of heroes and some evolutionary changes. The combat in Fire Emblem Engage will be instantly familiar to anyone who's played one of these games in the past, with overarching strategy reliant upon the rock-paper-scissors-like triangle weapons system in which swords beat axes, axes beat spears, and spears beat swords. It also adds a second system that introduces the notion that melee arts classes have an advantage over magic users, archers, and thieves. Also new to combat is the ability to "break" opponents by attacking them with the proper sort of weapon, leaving them unable to retaliate. Another novel feature comes in the form of new fighting styles. Backup fighters, for example, can chain attacks with others when positioned nearby, while covert fighters can use various environments and terrain tiles to great advantage. All of this strategy may be daunting for new players, but tinkering with the game's wide variety of play modifiers (such as switching off "permadeath") can greatly adjust difficulty, making it pretty easy for rookies to find their footing and begin experiencing success right away.
Speaking of which, those drawn to the series more for its colorful characters than its combat will find plenty of fun new personalities to get to know, from the charming rogue Yunaka, whose inner goodness needs to be drawn out by the Divine Dragon, to the stalwart, gray-haired knight Vander, who is willing to lay down his life for the player's character from the get-go. Players are encouraged to develop bonds between members of Engage's constantly expanding roster of heroes by initiating conversations with them, training with them, dining with them, and offering gifts. The new Emblem ring mechanic, which sees heroes equipping rings containing the souls of characters from previous games -- like Marth from the original Fire Emblem and Celica from Fire Emblem Awakening -- means fans will get to see some of their favorite heroes lend their experience and skills to this new crop of champions. Fire Emblem Engage may not push many boundaries, but it's another strong entry in one of the best strategy franchises currently going.