For a game with “engage” in the title, it’s shocking how light Fire Emblem Engage is on the romance, what with limiting S-rank pairings to Alear and characters in their army. Likewise, that means the absence of another series staple. For years, Fire Emblem offered paired endings in which certain folks end up together, in some cases even platonically. But all of that’s gone, and it’s disheartening given the sorts of interactions between people and in ending scene imagery.
Editor’s Note: There will be Fire Emblem Engage ending spoilers below.
Here’s how these sorts of paired endings normally work in Fire Emblem games. After reaching maxed out support with an ally, you “lock in” a paired ending for them. Then, ahead of the credits, you get to see what happened next for these people. In some cases, these can be romantic segments. For example, we see how the romance between Eirika and Seth turned out in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. And we do get some of these kinds of paired endings endings in Fire Emblem Engage, but only between Alear and the other characters in an S-rank relationship with them.
If it served some greater good and a canon ending, perhaps it would make sense. However, there’s no “after” or epilogue to consider. The ending scenes show Alear succeeding Lumera as the Divine Dragon and in the same regalia, with the royal leaders from the various nations showing up to celebrate their shared victory. There’s nothing locked in that says, “Hey, since Bunet and Chloe had a shared love of food in their Fire Emblem Engage support conversations, these two characters went on to continue to swap recipes and meet up for meals after the war was over.” We see Lapis’ crush on Alcryst come through in their support conversations, so a paired ending between the two worked.
Even if this was a desire by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems to avoid “romance,” especially as some of the characters aren’t adults, there are other options. Past games featured a number of platonic paired endings for characters, and the developers could have taken that route with Fire Emblem Engage. Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade included platonic ones between Marcus and Merlinus, as well as ones between siblings like Nils and Ninian. Given how many siblings we have in this latest Switch release, that could have worked quite well. For example, Alfred can “survive” his illness in Fire Emblem Engage, if he ends up in an S-rank relationship with Alear. However, his sickness resurfacing comes up in his A-rank with his sister, Celine. Given her nature as a healer in-game and support of him, it feels like a paired ending between the two could have served as a means of also keeping him alive.
As for the credit images, the Fire Emblem Engage character art over the end roll even suggests certain pairings and relationships between characters. Seadall and Yunaka are a good example. During their Support conversations, he sees her potential as an entertainer. In their shared ending credits image, the two are performing together for people in some unknown city. It seems like there would have been potential for something there! Likewise, Jean and Anna appear together in the same ending art and, well, that also seems like a missed opportunity. (The two can’t even support each other in-game, despite being the two youngest in the army.) An option to help explain that once the fighting was done, his family temporarily took her in while waiting for her sisters would have been nice. We also know that Pandreo and Panette both end up involved with the Divine Dragon religion and church, and acknowledging the siblings working together seems like it’d only make sense.
It isn’t even about the lack of romance in Fire Emblem Engage, but rather the absence of any pay-off when we clearly see chances for characters to become friends and influence each others’ lives in their support conversations. These games are often about the tactics, the stories, and the characters, and omitting this element feels like the punch is being taken out of one of these elements a bit. I felt disappointed to get to the end and find none of these people influenced each other enough to stay in “touch” in their epilogues, and I can only hope future games bring that feature back.
Fire Emblem Engage is available for the Nintendo Switch.