Fire Emblem at its core is a turn-based strategy tactics game series where you move units around a battlefield and take out enemies. Each unit has its own skills and weaponry and placing your units in the right place can pretty much determine whether a battle is won or lost. But each unit in FE games is a specific character, and over time you get attached to said characters. For the majority of the series the units also have had permadeath – meaning if you lose a unit they’re gone for good – but newer entries including Three Houses gives you an option to not have that on.
Three Houses adds a second layer to the strategy battlefield: in between the main chapter fights you’re a teacher at a school, and your units are your students. You can level up their skills by what they teach you, form social bonds by talking to them between classes, have lunch to boost their stats in the next fight, and so on. It adds a delightful Persona-esque day-to-day pursuit to the game and gives you a chance to fall even more in love with your characters that you’re sending out to die on the battlefield later. On top of that, as the title suggests there are three separate Houses to choose from at the beginning of the game, and while you can recruit some students if you want, each House has its own story so the game has a lot of replayability.
Why It’s Important To Me:
Three Houses is the perfect evolution of the franchise for me. While I have enjoyed all the FE games I’ve played, the fusion of the actual tactical battles with the social sections in the academy make this the top tier entry in my opinion. It also moves slightly away from the romance angles of both Awakening and Fates where you were pairing up every character to get their kids. There is still pairing up of characters here and you get to see a lot of fun interactions, but the actual romance is mostly saved for your specific player character and whoever you choose to pursue. All the characters are delightful, either in a love-to-love them or a love-to-hate them way.
The battle system itself is the most fun it’s been in any Fire Emblem as well. The addition of the “Divine Pulse” gives you a set amount of time rewinds that allow you to fix mistakes in battle. Instead of having to restart the entire fight like in previous FEs, you only need to go back a turn and choose a different tactic. Getting to choose how each character levels up between battles makes it more personal as well. There are just so many quality-of-life updates to the series that make it harder to go back to the more “hardcore” Fire Emblems.
My Strongest Memory:
I think part of why I love this game so much is how it got HarveyZ back into gaming. The true turning the corner of the Make Me A Gamer podcast was when Harvey bought a Switch just to play this game, and then ended up just as obsessed with it as I did. It was fun arguing over whether the Blue Lions or Black Eagles were better (I still insist the Blue Lions are underrated and I loved their entire story) and comparing notes on how the story was progressing for both of us.
It’s also a testament to how strong this game is that as soon as I finished it I booted up a second run-through of the Golden Deer. I didn’t make it all the way to the end with it (in fact I didn’t even get halfway) but I was so enamored with the characters and gameplay that I dove right back in after rolling credits – something I hardly ever do with any game. Also Dorothea is the best girl and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
Why It’s #46:
In 2018 the only Fire Emblem on this list was Awakening, because at the time it was my favorite FE and really breathed new life into the series. Three Houses then came out and blew Awakening out of the water so hard it disappeared from the list and now Three Houses is the only entry. This is a must-have game if you like the strategy/tactics genre even a little: it’s also the best Fire Emblem to start with if you’ve never played the franchise. Play it!
Hey everyone! It’s episode 50 of Make Me A Gamer coming live to your earholes! We can’t believe we’ve made it this far, and to celebrate episode 50 we’re doing a throwback episode! Yes, that’s right, this week’s episode goes old-school as we recorded it back during our summer hiatus, and we’re releasing it as our 50th episode because we totally planned it like that, and it didn’t just happen to fall on a week where HarveyZ was busy and couldn’t record. Yup! Totally planned!
So join us for a throwback episode with no HarveyZ Snaps, no Game of the Week, no fun segments. Just unfiltered, chaotic discussion where we talk about weddings, Doctor Who, favorite TV shows, Harry Potter houses and what type of gamer each house would be, D&D alignments, and more! There’s also a fun throwback to TMan & HarveyZ discussing Fire Emblem Three Houses before it took over their lives! Enjoy this blast from the past and we’ll be back with up-to-date episodes next week!
(This episode was recorded on ????? 2019. Somewhere in July, before Fire Emblem came out.)
Back on track with a Tuesday episode! (Note: We talk about Overwatch League in this episode but this was recorded before the Blizzard controversy broke. We address the Blizzard/Hong Kong news in episode 47.)
This Week On Make Me A Gamer
Harvey Z Snaps: Fire Emblem vs. XCOM
Main Course #1: Fire Emblem Three Houses & the Overwatch League Grand Finals
Make Me A Gamer Minute: Deadly Premonition
Main Course #2: Fallout 76 helmet mold, Brain Age for Switch, and TMan’s feelings about The Last of Us
So I’ve been thinking a bit and I’ve decided that video games need to rethink the “game over.” In fact, I think the idea of a fail state in games is an unnecessary holdover from the games where you had lives and continues. Yes, having a game over and having to restart from a certain point adds challenge to the game. But in general, with the way games are developed nowadays, often times the fail state just adds aggravation to what is otherwise a wonderful gaming experience.
The problem, of course, is that most games are based around death. Killing enemies to progress is a large chunk of gameplay loops, and the easiest way to add challenge to the loop is for the enemies to, you know, kill back. Health bars/indicators/numbers are the main tracking agent and when you hit 0, time for a fail state to show you didn’t live up to the challenge!
But, and bear with me here, what if that wasn’t the case? What if we figured out a way for games to keep their challenge but eliminate the need to make the player feel bad because they didn’t shoot the guy with the one-hit KO attack fast enough? What if we eliminated the silly QTEs that if you missing pressing a single button you have to do an entire sequence over again?
I’m going to talk about some games that have recently opened my eyes to how good a lack of a fail state is, and how some games have been hindered because of fail states, and how some games have given you an illusion of a fail state but don’t actually have one and that’s what games should try to live up to.
So I’ve put over 70 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses – probably the most time I’ve dedicated to a single game since Assassin’s Creed Odyssey last year. I’ve still not completed my first route (Blue Lions represent!) but I’m closing in on the end. I don’t know when I’ll get to the second and third playthroughs for the other houses, but I legitimately want to see everything from the other perspectives. That’s how engrossed I am at the story level.
The mechanical level has also hooked me, obviously. Three Houses is the best Fire Emblem has ever been on the tactical battle level. Critical battle information has been streamlined and made much easier to access. Leveling up your characters outside battle is also more engaging and you have a lot more options at your fingertips to create bonds between your characters. And the characters are all stellar. I love the Blue Lion house and their interactions both on and off the battlefield. The recruitment system has also allowed me to nab the characters I like from other houses as well.
I’m starting off glowing about the game, but there are a few low points which I’ll also get to. As a heads up, this review won’t contain any major main story spoilers, but might contain minor support conversation spoilers.