a Tale of Three Houses, and Why I’m Loving the New Fire Emblem Game

Fire Emblem: Three Houses was released at the end of July, and to say I have been obsessed is a bit of an understatement. I want to do a full review of this game eventually, but for now I’ve got some first impressions for you!

I was one of the people who jumped on the Fire Emblem train when Awakening got the rave reviews it did. It was my first strategy RPG, and the addicting gameplay combined with a decent story and endearing characters made it one of my favorites on the 3DS system. After Awakening, Fire Emblem: Fates was a game I didn’t spend too much time in. I started with Conquest, and something just didn’t feel right for me. May be it was the jump in difficulty? May be it was the characters? May be it was the story? Regardless, I played partway through and never finished it. When Echoes came out, I didn’t buy it because, to be quite honest, I felt guilty for not having finished Fates. I did end up buying Echoes eventually, but it still sits untouched on my shelves.

So, why, after so many years of perpetually backlogging Fire Emblem games, am I so excited and hooked with the new one?

[1] New Console Game, New Handheld Game, New, New, New…

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic console. The combination of handheld and docked mode allows everyone flexibility to play the games the way the way they want. Knowing I can play a game while lying in bed, but also relaxed at my couch, but also with the joy cons in a grip or loose or with a pro controller? That kind of flexibility is oddly empowering and makes playing games even more fun.

Nintendo wasn’t the first company to attempt this type of gaming flexibility. You could argue that Sony did it first with the PS4 and the PSVita. Sure they are two different consoles, but the idea is the same: flexibility.

The reason I bring this up is because Three Houses is the first Fire Emblem game to be released on the Switch. It’s also simultaneously Nintendo’s first console Fire Emblem game in a long time and their next handheld game in the franchise. The expectations are big because you’ve got both console players and handheld players with their own expectations along with a gaming system with way more power than the 3DS.

We all knew this game was going to be something new, exciting, novel on the Switch, and unique to Fire Emblem. That my friend is something to get hyped for.

I caved and bought the special edition. It’s so beautiful!

[2] Life Sims and Resource Management

I like resource management games. Sure, you won’t find me playing Dwarf Fortress; but the resource management in farming sims, life sims, some Otome games, Persona games, and the like are right up my alley. When the news of a “Persona” style school section of the game started circulating, I was pretty overjoyed.

One of my favorite things in Awakening was determining the classes and abilities I wanted my units to have and working towards that. Having an added element of control over army composition, stat focuses, and combat strategy ups the ante and makes me want to keep coming back to Three Houses. When I play this game, I sit with a notebook so I can jot down the goals of my students and what type of army I’m looking to build and how I should spend the next free days and what characters I want to recruit… and the list goes on.

In Three Houses, I actually feel like a professor teaching these students, feel truly immersed in the story and the characters. That, my friend, makes me enjoy this resource management even more than in Persona games. Yes, I said it!

[3] House Loyalty!?

If the world of Harry Potter was real and I attended Hogwarts, my school would be Gryffindor through and through. If the world of Fire Emblem was real and I studied at the Monastery, I would certainly be in the Blue Lions.

It’s natural to want to belong to a particular group or community. People thrive on focusing on a united vision, but also being united through rivalry. With Three Houses, you get the best of both worlds. Rivalry against the other houses, but also a sense of camaraderie since you can interact and potentially recruit members from all houses. I feel like this game did what Fates wishes it could have done with the various families from that game.

I cannot express the amount of joy this game brought even before it came out. Which house are you going to go with? Lions? Deer? Eagles? Who. My friends and I had such fun pouring over where our loyalties lie, and even now we playfully joke about which house is best house.

Naturally, I went with Blue Lions for my first play-through because that eyepatch!

In short…

There is something so fascinating about how a game can transcend its actual game play and foster a sense of joy and wonder in the community. Fire Emblem: Three Houses does just that. I can’t wait to finish my first route and then move on to the rest!

How have you been enjoying Fire Emblem: Three Houses?

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