I was recently bitten by the Fire Emblem: Three Houses bug, and I had to write about it. As a first-time player, I have to say I’m awestruck and in love with this game, and I think other fellow writers might enjoy it, even if just for the sake of story analysis.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem Three Houses is a Tactic RPG game, Nintendo Switch exclusive, if you’ve been distracted.
The main character Byleth (you can pick the gender and a custom name), is a young mercenary who is hired to teach teen warriors at a Monastery/Academy, Garreg Mach. In a Harry-Potter-like environment, students are sorted into three classes, according to the region of Fodlán they come from: the Black Eagles from the Adrestian Empire, whose princess, Edelgard, is also the house leader (for some reason their color is red); the Blue Lions from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, lead by Prince Dimitri; and, finally, Golden Deer from the Leicester Alliance, represented by quirky Claude,
The story will take a different perspective according to the house you pick, so choose wisely. Or start a New Game+ after finishing the first route, with perks you earned from the previous play.
Characters and story
From one point to another, you get to explore the monastery, as you get to know each character, and characters get to know each other as well. I feel like writers will particularly enjoy this game. I loved the way characters are displayed at first, showing certain personality traits, but then you get to understand why they’re that way; for example, Bernardetta is like a scared bunny, or Sylvain is a womanizer. The story is so full of secrets that you need to go through it a few times to retrieve answers to all the questions that arise as you play.
Fire Emblem Three Houses is not exactly an open-world game, yet there are several gameplay features.
As a professor, you must manage your students’ activities and your own while preparing them for monthly missions, which are tactical turn-based battles related to the main story. As you advance, you build up relationships with your students and learn their backstories.
Each month you have to instruct your students and help them improve their skills (sword, magic, whatnot…), and also, if you don’t feel like it, you can always set to auto-instruct. Then at the weekend, you can pick one activity:
- Explore, which works like any other RPG, and you can talk to everybody and do quests and errands while exploring the monastery;
- Seminar (improving your or your student’s skills);
- Battle: for a quest, paralogue, and auxiliary battles;
- Rest (because who cares about school, anyway?).
Everything you do grants you points that add up to your Professor level. Also, you can recruit students from other houses, except their leaders and respective servants (although there are exceptions).
Why I liked it so much
The main story is impactful and interesting and kept me on my toes the whole time. The mystery around the protagonist is one of the hooks.
The characters are quirky and unique, compelling, fabulously created, and their arcs are surprising and well-connected. The support system shows a cutscene as two characters advance in their relationship, including the protagonist. Those revelations help answer the questions we players have throughout the game.
Also, the writing is gorgeous. Of course, this isn’t literature, but I still think it’s noteworthy. As the story progresses, you get to change your perception of every character. Even characters that seemed annoying AF at first.
Also worth remarking is the character roster, as it’s a good template for character building, particularly on fantasy/sci-fi or action-focused fiction.
Then there is the Church and its relationship to each territory. It’s a story loaded with social critique (noble vs. commoner, crest vs. no crest), political and religious intrigue, not only between territories but also among family houses disputing for power, each string revealing more characters’ stories.
After playing the three routes, I must say Blue Lions is my favorite house, as it has the best group of characters, although Golden Deer has the best final boss (and soundtrack!). The Black Eagles were ok, but I felt like there were a few chapters missing and the ending was somewhat underwhelming.