It doesn’t take long to figure out that I have a bit of favoritism towards the Fire Emblem series. I’ve played games in the series for a long time and they have a strong hold of my personal top spot for favorite games. Three Houses proves to be a massive game that offers a lot more than previous Fire Emblem titles and so I can’t wait to explore how that really made this game shine. In Three Houses you play as a create your own character that becomes a professor to a knight academy. The school is divided amongst three territorial factions and you choose which faction to instruct and by proxy which version of the story you wish to see.
The gameplay is something Fire Emblem has kept pretty consistent for the entire series. You play with a select number of units and move in a grid map to defeat your foes. Kind of like chess except your opponent starts off with more pieces. However, this game adds a lot of gameplay outside of combat which deserves a lot of attention. As a professor, you get to teach your students/units how to master certain skills and abilities. This, in turn, gives you full control of how you want to shape each unit for battle and this new level of control adds so much to the game. You also have a lot more options on how to bond with your students such as choir singing, lunches, and inviting them to tea so the plethora of options to bond and strengthen your units not only adds a whole new element of strategy to the game but also adds more ways for the characters to become more than just units on a map to the player.
Now at this point, I haven’t seen every possible story in the game, but I have seen most of what the game has to offer. Each faction/house in the game offers a unique story that makes it feel like you have four different games (one for each story) rather than one massive game. The leaders of each house have their own motivations and it’s amazing seeing how these different ideologies create very different outcomes. The one, and only, drawback is that the first half of the game for each house is pretty much exactly the same. It can be tedious to have to play half of the game all over again just to see how different the second half of the game is; however, this is my one, minor, complaint about the entire game.
A vast majority of the characters are made with such incredible detail that it becomes a wonderful experience to see support conversations flesh out each character’s background. In previous Fire Emblem games, you can use support conversations to get bits and pieces of information on a character, but in Three Houses you really feel like you have an understanding of what makes these characters who they are and what motivates them towards their aspirations. I have never played a game where so many characters are made with such an incredible amount of detail and it was an amazing spectacle. I also like how they made every line voiced by a talented voice actor which added another layer of detail to the depths of each character because you got to hear how their personalities affect how they communicate with each other.
You also can unlock several side quests that give you even more insight into your characters and great ways to unlock new and powerful items to add to your army. Fire Emblem has done side quests in the past, but most of those were to unlock new characters or gain some experience. In this game, every side quest has its own story and a reward that has a unique tie to the character/characters that are pivotal to the quest. Additionally, you have quests that help you understand your character, who is shrouded with mystery that slowly gets revealed with each path you take.
One final note I wish to make is the cutscenes. I love how this game puts so many more cutscenes in the game in comparison to previous titles. The opening scene was breathtaking and seeing some of the game’s more impactful moments with full scenes that feature vivid and detailed reactions adds so much to the entertainment value.
I’ve never been disappointed with the music of a Fire Emblem game and I’m so glad I got the special edition which comes with a massive soundtrack. As for the graphics, I’m also impressed with how beautifully the locations and characters are designed and how well they appear in the game. A lot of time and effort was made to develop these designs and create these soundtracks and it was effort well spent.
This is my new favorite game. This is truly a masterpiece that comes with great characterization, beautiful animation/music, complex gameplay, and a breathtaking story. The only drawback is having to play the same first half of the story over and over again to see all the outcomes of the game, but even then you still have so much to do that it’s still entertaining, despite the repetition.