Which house will YOU choose?
From the beginning, Fire Emblem: Three Houses begs this question of you. It’s the latest entry in the long-running series, with releases dating back to 1990. The general concept of the franchise hasn’t changed much since it began, with the player controlling a handful of units against enemy forces in a medieval setting, with your troops gaining experience and growing stronger the more you use them.
The catch is that if one of your favorite units happen to fall in battle, he or she dies and is unavailable for the rest of the game. Couple that with well-written characters which you grow attached to and this interplay of risking your favorite units against losing them permanently is what made this series so attractive to many, including myself.
Three Houses expands on this concept by putting you in the role of a rookie professor in the Garreg Mach Monastery, training mercenaries and warriors for three different nations. You’re able to choose a house to lead from the Black Eagles, Blue Lions, and Golden Deer, with strengths in magic, melee, and archery, respectively. These houses come with their own specific units which you can bond with outside of battle. In addition to commanding battles, you’re also able to play matchmaker with your units, pairing them up with your other troops as you see fit. Their relationships grow, and you get to see how they interact off the battlefield.
Time management plays a role in the game as well, with your decisions on how you and your students will fill out the calendar month affecting how their stats grow, and any extracurricular activities they might perform together outside of class. You also have one day a week off, when you can free roam around the school grounds, talking to teachers and students alike as well as performing side quests which provide additional reward and motivation for not just skipping past these sections entirely.
Combat is turn-based grid warfare, with you choosing how your soldiers move on the battlefield, who they attack, and what spells or weapons they use. The upgraded graphics of the Switch over the previous games on the 3DS (and before) lend themselves handily here, allowing more effects and world detail onscreen during battle.
Special Gambit tactics provide additional flair to both the visuals and the combat, allowing units a chance to perform extra damage to enemy units and lowering their stats. Beyond that, the combat is handled the same way it has been in the 3DS outings, and if you have played any of those you will find yourself right at home with Three Houses.
So far, I’ve played at over five hours of Three Houses and fully intend to get right back into the game and put in another fifty. You’re able to replay the game with the houses you didn’t pick, and receive a different gameplay experience, with each house differing in their abilities, making your interactions and combat unique to that house.
Get into the game and let us know which house you choose!