It has been almost 30 years since the very first Fire Emblem game was released on the Famicon with Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light. During those 30 years ago, the Fire Emblem franchise has evolved dramatically, from being a niche franchise with waning popularity to only rise from the ashes with the hugely popular titles on the Nintendo 3DS. With more and more characters appearing in games like Super Smash Bros, spin-offs including Fire Emblem Warriors, the series is more popular than ever. Therefore, the time feels right for Fire Emblem to make the jump back to a home console for the first time since 2012. Welcome Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Three Houses is set in the world of Fodlan, a continent that is split into three distinct houses (hence the name). These three houses are known as the Adrestian Empire, the Holy Kingdom of Faaerghus and the Leicester Alliance. Situated in the middle of the continent and sandwiched in between these three kingdoms is the Garreg Mach Monastery, home to the Church of Seiros as well as the Officers Academy. These two locations are a key part of Three Houses as you train students from your chosen house.
That’s as simple an explanation of the story of Fire Emblem: Three Houses as I can make. This is a complex story as most Fire Emblem games are. Be prepared to be sucked into a world of drama, excitement and more. You play the game as Byleth, a mercenary for hire that ends up being recruited to teach students at the Church of Seiros. Shortly after being recruited, you have to choose which house to teach – the Black Eagles, Golden Deer or Blue Lions. This is where the game beings to diverge into one of the three different storylines in the game. With this game offering 3 totally unique storylines, Fire Emblem: Three Houses certainly isn’t short of replayability.
The first few hours of Three Houses is all about settling you into the game, the battle mechanics as well as setting up the story. It’s a lot of information to take in so be prepared for what feels like a bit of a bombardment of information. It can be a little overwhelming if like me, you’re pretty new to the Fire Emblem series. You also spend a lot of time at the Monastery getting to know your students and train them. What’s really cool about Fire Emblem: Three Houses is that with your training of your chosen students, you can essentially level up your students to become whatever you want them to. Don’t worry too much if doing this for several students isn’t your thing or if you just want to get into battles, there is an option for the game to do it for you.
But the reason most people buy Fire Emblem games is for the brilliant tactical battles – and Three Houses certainly doesn’t disappoint. The game really takes advantage of the extra juice from the Switch to create much larger and more detailed maps. With this extra juice from the Switch, Intelligent Systems have introduced a cool new feature called ‘battalions’ where you assign battalions to members of your team to support them. Visually it’s really fun to see hundreds of support characters run across the screen to assist you in battle.
With the maps so detailed, no two maps are the same and it’s important that you pay attention to the terrain in each match. Move your character into bushes and they will provided cover but it will also restrict your movement. A great addition in this game is that when you are moving your character, you can now see if you’re moving them into the line of fire from your opponents. This feature saved my ass a few times in many a battle and it can be a really big deal if you’re playing in classic mode where perma-death is a thing.
Speaking of perma-death, another new feature in Three Houses is ‘Divine Pulse’. With this power, you can turn back time to any point of the battle and change the past. So if you’ve lost one of your favourite characters whether it’s been from a stupid mistake you’ve made or from underestimating your opponent, death doesn’t have to mean death. Or you could just not play in Classic mode like I did.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a lot of going for it – sometimes it feels like a little too much. Intelligent Systems have done a pretty good job of introducing the various mechanics of the game gradually but it is a little slow to get going. Once you’ve gotten past that and gotten to grips with everything, Fire Emblem: Three Houses soars. It really is the pinnacle of the tactical gaming genre, there really is no other game out there that comes closed to matching it. It’s held the crown for decades and Fire Emblem: Three Houses has only cemented it’s place on the throne.
- The best looks Fire Emblem game by far.
- A deep and truly gaming experience
- Fantastic replayability
- A little slow to get going
- Could potentially be overwhelming for new players
Verdict: This soup was already pretty perfect but they’ve managed to improve this recipe even further
Soup Temperature: 10/10