Fire Emblem has had an interesting history of late. In Smash Brothers Melee there was a character called Marth. He was part of a franchise called Fire Emblem, but these games had not really been released outside of Japan. They considered making him Japan exclusive but fortunately decided against it. His popularity in Smash lead to them trying to release these games in the West but as time went on it seemed like Fire Emblem was a dying franchise. Then out came Fire Emblem Awakening to the 3ds, they pulled out all the stops, this game would either usher in a new glorious era, or end the franchise. The game was a huge hit and many of its characters (especially Lucina who should replace Marth as the main rep for the franchise, all hail Lucina) went on to become some of the most beloved in Nintendo history.
But to survive, the games changed, maybe not as much as some people would claim but enough to set some people off, these people were mostly ars*****s who failed to realize had it not been for Awakening the franchise would now be dead. But to cater for them Nintendo tried some things. It resulted in games that weren’t as good as Awakening. So came news that a Switch game (already the fastest selling console in the history of the world) would have a new generation Fire Emblem game, we waited and watched. Would their attempt to appease old school elitism strike it again, or would it join Awakening in ushering in a new age?
Fire Emblem Three Houses is a (profanity) great game, and given it is a best seller topping the charts on its release, it’s safe to say Fire Emblem is going to continue on for now.
Fire Emblem contains 2 main modes which you play through, the battles and the rest. The battles remain in the turn based strategic battles, moving your characters through the battlefield one by one fighting opponents and completing objectives, each character using weapons or magic to fight or heal (obviously not weapons, I don’t recall seeing a sword heal… outside of Bleach). Using your characters strategically will help to insure their survival. You can see now to a degree who is going to attack that unit to help you keep your more fragile or damaged units safe or if they need buffing. When you are attacking, an indicator will show you how much damage you will do and take outside of crits. In the game you will also unlock the ability to turn back time to a degree on your turn in case something unexpected happens or you make a mistake. It’s a limited amount though so use them wisely. New to the game are battalions which using your new authority skill can send in to fight people as you stand (they are also good against certain enemies I won’t spoil for you)
The other main part of the game features more character interaction and time/resource management. You are given a month before each story battle. Every week however you teach your class allowing you to help foster certain skill attributes but also can help foster relationships. At the end of the week you get a choice, explore, seminar, battle or rest (if you have connection to the internet you can see what percentage of people chose what). Explore allows you to explore the monastery, your hub and perform certain acts such as taking people to dinner, learn lessons yourself to increase your stats, find resources, chat with other characters and stuff. Battle lets you take part in non story mandatory battles, though some are necessary for side plots and quests and have good rewards. Seminar and rest basically use up that week to relax but with benefits but are much lesser used than the other 2.
So onto the plot (I realized while talking about some of the features I need to explain this). You play as Byleth, who is either a boy or a girl (you get to pick) and child of the skilled mercenary captain Jeralt. You run into 3 students from Garreg Mach Monastery who are under attack by bandits. After defeating the bandits you are summoned to the monastery which is both a school and the center of the land of Fodlan. Once there you find your father has some history as he was Head of the Church’s Knights. You are asked to be the Professor of one of the three houses (GET IT!) Black Eagles led by Edelgard (who will no doubt go down as one of the top female Fire Emblem characters of all time) Golden Deer led by Claude (who is just so nice) and Blue Lion led by…. sigh.. Dimitri (don’t pick him). Ok so now you know why you teach classes and all that. Oh and there’s a strange green haired girl called Sothis that appears in your dreams and only you can see.
The plot is really strong and your actions have considerable impact on the plot, which house you choose has its own story as events play out. Your presence effects what people do, as some fall to the darker elements of their personalities without you, while those you stand with can become better people thanks to you. In fact several times I had to stop playing for some time as the story kept getting to me. You matter, yes all games would say that, but it just going with the story most of the time. Here you really see how much your actions impact things as you can see what happens if you’re not there and it gets heavy.
Doing actions with, or fighting next to people can result in relationships forming if those characters are compatible. Once you hit a threshold a cut scene can be achieved allowing those characters (sometimes one of them is you but there are plenty that don’t) interacting thus allowing you to learn more about them, and in the example of your character, become an official couple and fall in love, and I’m happy to say thanks to people going on about it for some time, there are a lot more same sex pairings for your character this time round ( there is a ton of Edelgard and Female Byleth Yuri Art). Oh one more thing, if you’re on the Black Eagle’s route, make sure to become very chummy with Edelgard and when she asks you to go with her to the capital, go with her to the capital.
So about that plot again. Interestingly I can’t say who a definitive big bad is. A person who you would go as “yeah that’s the villain” might turn out not to be so bad if you choose a different house and maybe the people you are standing with aren’t as nice as you think (well except those that slither in the dark, they are all dicks). So far there isn’t a true good ending like in Fire Emblem Fates, no matter which side you pick someone is going to die ( as said had to stop playing for a while to deal with those facts). There is dlc coming one of which says more story, so maybe one of the dlc is a super happy ending but right now you just have to make your decisions and face what happens.
Fire Emblem Three Houses is a superb game and it’s very easy to see why some of the characters are finding their ways into people’s hearts. The game play adds new features into the Fire Emblem formula while not changing it to the point it’s a separate game. While at first I felt worried that the time management would put me off, fearing what would happen if I used it badly I soon got over my fear (by making sure I had more than one save… just in case) and began experimenting with what I can do while getting to know the characters and see what they can do. Sometimes I stumble but the reward at the end put a big smile on my face (almost as much as Byleth and Edelgards when they admitted their feelings to each other).