You know how the Fire Emblem series usually has this token female character who’s basically the embodiment of purity and chastity, and nothing she does or says could ever be wrong? Three Houses has a character like this too, and I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this incredibly deep and nuanced game, but I’m pretty sure she’s shady as hell. I’d put money on it.
I’ve had the great pleasure of playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses during my vacation over the past week, and am only at the end of the first act in what is reportedly an 80-hour-long game. I plan on sinking way more time into the game in the coming days, but from what I’ve played so far… this is a really good game. Let me explain.
So if you’ve played any game in the Fire Emblem series, you already know what to expect. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical RPG that puts you in command of an army of fighters in a large scale war.
In the new-school FE games that released for the 3DS, players got to view support conversations between their units as well. This means that all the characters in the extensive roster can build relationships with each other, and eventually, get married and have kids.
Having a high support rank means they’ll fight better on the battlefield together; it’s a system that’s always felt very organic since Awakening, and I’m glad it’s back in Three Houses.
In Three Houses, you play as a mercenary who’s hired to become a professor at the prestigious Monastery. You’ll choose between three houses: Black Eagles, Blue Lions, and Golden Deer. Picking one house essentially means you’re casting your lot with a particular side in the inevitable conflict that’s about to ravage the land of Fodlan.
By dividing the character roster into three different groups, your class of students is way smaller than you might be used to in past Fire Emblem games. For instance, I picked the Black Eagles (of course), and my starting class only consists of eight students. That’s a measly total of eight people my character could bond and build a relationship with.
That sounds lame when I put it like that, but I’ve actually grown to love the structured nature of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. By limiting the number of people you get in a house, you get more opportunities to know each of them on a more intimate level.
Because all your students are committed to the cause of their house leader, this also gives the developers the opportunity to build much stronger storylines within each house. The game makes the cast feel genuine and sincere, and really helps to foster a sense of teamwork within your own house.
The early hours of Three Houses are focused on building this friendly rivalry between the Eagles, Lions, and Deer, and I can’t help but feel a sense of petty pride when I watch my beloved Eagles stomp over all those losers. Seriously. My students are the best, everyone else is trash.
That sense of pride comes into play yet again when you’re coaching your students from week to week. Every student has their own individual goals they want to work towards, and it’s up to you to plan out a good lesson structure, and level up the relevant skills to help them achieve those goals.
With the school setting in Three Houses, the game ends up having a very Persona vibe where you’re living out your teacher life day-by-day. There are calendar events to look forward to, such as inter-house tournaments and fishing competitions. The Monastery itself is also full of little activities you can do with fellow students to deepen your bond.
This slice-of-life element is probably my favorite part of the game so far, if only because it helps to give meaning to your relationships with each character, whereas in past games you often had a whole slew of characters who never developed past their trope-ish first impressions.
I’ll have much more to say about the game in my full review, but for now, here’s a short list of things that I like (and dislike) about Fire Emblem: Three Houses so far.
1. I hate how my character looks.
Seriously. Whether you’re playing the male or female version of Byleth, your character looks fucking stupid with that blank stare. They look fine in animated cutscenes, but in-game? Nah. Their eyebrows may move from time to time, but their expression never changes. It’s honestly kinda creepy.
2. I hate Hubert.
He’s very loyal to Lady Edelgard, and I’m convinced he’s low-key in love with her. That’s fine, but jeez, you don’t have to put other people down just because you’re obsessed with your waifu.
3. The writing is, as always, comical and very entertaining.
4. Tea parties are weird. Though I’m sure my tune will change when I set my heart on someone to marry, and start inviting them to non-stop tea parties, which is obviously a euphemism.
5. The support conversations are significantly longer than in Fates and Awakening, and much more fleshed out.
So there you have it. Fire Emblem: Three Houses has been a wonderful time so far, and I’m hopeful that the rest of the game will only get even better.
Check back in a couple of weeks to see if my prediction about the lady archbishop turns out to be accurate.