I allowed myself to play Fire Emblem Engage on the easiest possible mode and finally got me back into gaming. The first time I picked up a Fire Emblem game back in 2010, a friend told me that the only proper way to play was in classic perma-death mode. For some reason, I took this to heart and played every subsequent game, ready to restart my console during every skirmish and story battle so I wouldn’t lose any of my friends. Due to unexpected upheavals in my personal life over the last few years, I mostly stopped playing games, although I continued to buy new titles that I normally played. This includes Persona 5: Royalwhich I have not yet touched, and Fire Emblem Engagewhich sat sealed in my cupboard for over a year.

I wanted to play Get involved since I got my pre-ordered copy but the very thought that I have to find the best class for all my units and I have to grind fighting one skirmish after another so they can max out their stats and not get killed on the battlefield, was overwhelming. It felt like a chore and not at all appealing to someone trying to get back into gaming. One day though, I decided to pop the cartridge into my Nintendo Switch and see if I could get anywhere. When asked to choose a difficulty, I dismissed the nagging voice in my head that kept saying, “If you don’t play permadeath, do you even play Fire Emblem?” As quickly as I could, I chose normal difficulty, the easiest option available, and casual mode , which simply withdraws units from combat instead of killing them outright after they are defeated in combat.

I had no idea if I was going to finish the game when I started, but I did—and I had a lot of fun. The biggest reason I was able to keep playing was because I didn’t feel as stressed as I did when I was playing Fates and Three houses. I didn’t have to plan every single move on the battlefield, and I didn’t have to look up other people’s class choices for their units, because a character who started out as a swordsman might do better as a Wyvern Knight. I didn’t have to take notes like I usually do for strategy games. The only information I looked up online was same-sex romance options for the main character of this installment. It really felt like I was playing to relax, which is something I’ve never said about a Fire Emblem game before.

In the grand scheme of things, having an internal conflict about the difficulty of the game is really quite stupid. But it’s a reflection of how we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on other people, because I would never judge someone else for how they want to play their games. Of course, winning battles and matches on harder modes will feel more rewarding, but not every gaming experience has to be a challenge. It’s good to play to decompress, to have some joy in your life, and in my case, to start over after years spent playing. Someday I may pick up Get involved again and play on Maddening difficulty, most likely on Casual mode now that I’m freed from the shackles of permadeath. That’s a long way off, though—for now, I want to go over the titles I’ve missed over the past five years, one by one. I started with the newest in my collection, Chronicle of Eiyuden, which I am absolutely thrilled to play as a longtime Suikoden fan. And, yes, I’m still taking it easy on myself by playing it on the least difficult mode possible.