Fire Emblem Three Houses Review


Jenna Claire Armstrong

Fire Emblem Three Houses is the latest installment of the Fire Emblem series, which are tactical-RPG games that started all the way back in 1990. It was released on July 26, 2019 and was developed by Intelligent Systems. The game was extremely well-received as it won Best Strategy Game and sold 2.87 million copies worldwide, making it the highest selling Fire Emblem game of all time. Is this game truly as great as everyone says or is it overhyped?



The story is a big part of all Fire Emblem games. Three Houses is no different. You play as a new professor at Garreg Mach Monastery named Byleth. The Monastery also serves as a school right in the middle of the continent of Fodlan. Fodlan is split into three nations, The Adrestian Empire, The Kingdom of Faerghus, and The Leicester Alliance. Students from all three nations come together at The Monastery to learn. Byleth can pick a house to teach which is split by nation. Adrestinan students are in The Black Eagles, Faerghus students are in The Blue Lions, and Leicester students are in The Golden Deer. As you teach the class, mysterious things start happening around Garrg Mach and trouble starts brewing. Depending on which house you pick, the story drastically changes. This means that you have three different stories and a lot of replayability. The story is good and each one has a different tone. The Golden Deer route is more light-hearted while The Blue Lions route tackles themes of depression and mental illness. 


There are also memorable and likeable characters in each house and you’ll likely get attached to at least a few of them. Each one has a distinct design, personality, and backstory. The most memorable ones are the three lords of the houses. Serious Edelgard is the leader of The Black Eagles, honorable Dimitri is the leader of The Blue Lions and clever Claude is the leader of The Golden Deer. Byleth also gets to learn more about the students through the support system. When characters battle beside each other, their trust in each other grows. As a result, supports are unlocked between those characters that tend to rank from C-A or S. Supports are the main way you get to learn about students and how they interact with each other. Thus, it’s a good way that each character has something about them that makes a player interested in them.



The gameplay is split into two sections, things you do at The Monastery and what you do in battle.


At The Monastery, you are free to explore it. During this time you can talk to people, fish, cook, do favors, and feed cats. You can pick what you do each day, explore, seminar, rest and battle. In a seminar you can get a special class from a character and boost your skills. Rest is basically skipping a day and battle will be explained later. Exploring is the big one and allows you to do loads of stuff at The Monastery. Most of the stuff you can do helps you improve your students’ stats. For example, you can eat lunch with two students in order to increase their trust and make them more motivated. If you pick their favorite food, you get even better motivation! However, some players consider this a slog to replay through and it can feel a bit slow at the beginning. 


You can also teach your students. At the beginning of the class period, each student has a certain amount of motivation. The more motivation they have, the more you can teach them. Motivation is raised by doing things with your students, like giving them gifts. The fun part is that you can give any student basically any class, a first for the series. This gives players a lot of options for how they want to build their army and ensure that in each playthrough there’s something new to try.


The other parts of gameplay mainly takes place in battles. This is where you take your students to battle in a grid, moving them from square to square. It has an emphasis on planning and strategy because most of the time you really don’t want units to lose all their health points. This brings in Fire Emblem’s most well-known and most feared feature, perma-death. If a unit loses all their health, they die and they don’t ever come back. You have to keep going without them which can be especially bad if you liked that character. While there is an option to have perma-death turned off, most players feel that the game was designed to have perma-death turned on. It adds stakes and tension to the gameplay and one mistake could kill a beloved character. The battles themselves are also fun with many different classes to experiment with. The only real problem is that the map and objectives tend to be a bit samey but the way you accomplish them is always different!




The main DLC is the expansion pass which adds a short story starring a new house, The Ashen Wolves. The DLC adds four new characters, four new classes, a new area to explore, and new music. The new characters also have new supports. The DLC costs $24.99 and I feel it is worth buying because of the characters and classes.



Fire Emblem Three Houses is a great addition to the Fire Emblem Franchise. With its colorful characters and complex gameplay, fans of tactical RPGs are sure to love it. It is also a long game with one playthrough being at least 100 hours. My suggestion is to wait a bit between repeat playthroughs in order to avoid burnout. It’s one of the best games on The Switch and extremely deserving of the praise it has gotten.