Fire Emblem: Three Houses Review

Forge your own path in this epic fantasy roleplaying game.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a brilliant fantasy tactical role-playing game where you enter the shoes of a mercenary turned homeroom teacher. Three Houses marks the 16th game in the Fire Emblem series, and is the first main line game to reach its way onto the Nintendo Switch. It is known for its epic fantasy stories and engaging combat. But believe it or not, there was a time where the series was nearing its end. Now, it stands as one of the best games to date, where it blends some mechanics you’d typically see in Persona line games with Fire Emblem’s traditional fighting mechanics.

Enter the “olde worlde” of “Fodlan“. You don’t really know much about the world outside you, nor do you know how to express yourself very much. Sometimes, you dream of a little green haired lady sitting on a throne. Your partner in crime is none other than your father, Jeralt. One evening, you and your father stumble upon three students from the Church of Seiros. Their names are Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, Edelgard von Hresvelg and Claude von Riegan. These three just so happen to be the most influential young rulers of three areas within Fodlan and they need your help.

A new path to tread.

They were under attack, so you and your father took it onto yourselves to save them. Then, if you are successful, you are taken away to Garreg Mach Monastary to meet with the Archbishop, Lady Rhea. Impressed with your abilities, she offers you a job as a homeroom teacher for one of the “three houses”. Each house is filled with fantastic narratives, an enriched story line, and as you progress, an insight into different geopolitical worlds. You cannot turn back, once you pledge allegiance to a house. And as much as you’d like to, you cannot save everybody. You’ll have some very difficult decisions after a certain point regardless of routes, but I’ll leave you to decide which path to tread to uncover its secrets.

In this playthrough I selected the female character.

What’s my strategy?

Now, let’s look at the gameplay. It’s pretty similar to the Persona series, in the sense that the story and gameplay are closely interconnected with one another. Firstly, there’s the overall structure. To keep with the school theme, there are regimented calendars, lesson plans and tasks to complete. You are responsible during most working weeks for teaching students from Monday through to Saturday. Lesson plans will typically involve either working with students towards mastering skillsets, how to fly horses and more. Sometimes, you’ll be delegating tasks to students to partake in stable duty or choir practice. There’s also the option to recruit units from “other houses”, and develop your relationships with them.

Additionally, you’ll have students approach you regarding their future career or other matters altogether. On Sundays however, that is your day off. Feel free to fill that day doing whatever it is you wish to do and explore this Hogwarts-like school. Fish to your heart’s content, invite students for tea, plant some veggies. There’s a myriad of activities to choose from! With the DLC, you have the option to do even more for yourself and for your students. You also have an entirely new area to explore beneath the school, and even more characters to potentially recruit!

Each battle is a chance to grow.

The battle mechanics are mostly the same as previous games. It’s a grid based strategy game, with multiple units types to select from. When choosing the difficulty in the beginning of the game, you can select to turn on or off permanent deaths. Your goal? Destroy all of your opponents, or complete certain requirements to win the battle. It can range from surviving for 25 rounds or get team members to designated points.

Additionally, there’s a special device called a Divine Pulse, which for a limited set of times you can return back in time to change a move you made. You can spend minutes to hours pondering over which moves your units will have to make. Don’t be cocky though! Lose too many Divine Pulse turns and you’ll have no choice but to helplessly watch units around you die. Not only that, but the weapons also degrade over time!

The quality of the graphics in Three Houses truly is spectacular! Everything is presented in a vibrant and detailed way, from exploring around the monastery, to the overall landscapes shown in battle. The animation is beautiful, with cutscenes that feel like they could be part of an anime series. I also noticed small things that had changed in some of the animation when it came to battles. For example, there’s no longer animations for “entering” an attack, and it truly makes a difference (for the better).

It’s important to keep a balanced schedule.

Here is something to believe in!

I cannot rate the series highly enough for its musical composition, especially for story telling purposes. Rei Kondoh has really outdone himself with the stellar selection offered to us! The original sound track is not only consistent in quality, but quantity too and is bursting with range and depth. It’s certainly different, and you can tell there’s a lot of experimentation with fusing genres into songs. It can be so easy to mess this up, yet somehow he made it work for Three Houses. I cannot mention my favorite ones on the sound track here as the title itself is a spoiler for one of the routes, so I urge you to try all the routes to find your favorite!

I honestly believe that it deserves the title of Game of the Year for 2019. It’s got so much to offer to players, and each route you select racks up to at least 40 or more hours. I honestly didn’t want any of the characters to die so it took longer for me to complete each route. I believe that it is so much more than a strategy social simulating JRPG. It was wonderful watching them grown with you over the period of the route. I cannot praise the combat and class tier system enough, and it was honestly even more exciting to challenge myself further in the expanded DLC storyline and missions! I racked up at least 275 hours of gameplay, and I’ll be definitely coming back to play this game again. Both the base game and DLC are absolutely worth every penny.

You can purchase Fire Emblem: Three Houses and it’s DLC on the Nintendo Store!

Want to see more JRPGs like this? Check out our related article right here!

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