Oliver’s Review of Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Finally, a game where I can have sex with my students and kill my best friends. What more could you ask for?

Actually though, I really liked this game. I’ve been a fan of Fire Emblem for a while, so I was already going to get this before Isaac started pestering me about it. It’s a really good game, I think, and a big improvement on the last entry into the franchise.

I’ve actually only played through one of the three paths and it’s the most spoiler-y one, but I’ll actually keep this review spoiler-free for you guys.

First of all, I’m going to come right out and say the same thing that everyone else has been trying to circle around saying: This game is way better than both Fates and Awakening. Awakening was fine, but the social component of the game really bogged down the plot and the strategy elements, and the writing was mediocre at best—very few of the characters were all that memorable. Fates was bad. It didn’t seem bad when it came out, but the writing sucked, it took all the worst elements of Awakening and tripled down on them without realizing what was good about either Awakening or the franchise, and it tried to introduce a lot of new mechanics that just didn’t work. You can see what Fates was trying to do when you play it, but it just doesn’t land (though it does have Lost in Thoughts All Alone, so props for that).

Three Houses really does well what Awakening wanted to do and what Fates tried to do. The social component of the game where you hang out with the characters is well done and more importantly well written, and it doesn’t come at the expense of the plot. Sure, most of the characters are still archetypical Fire Emblem characters like the Guy Who Likes Food and the Woman Who Wants a Husband, but they’re written well, so it actually feels like they have a personality instead of just a few ticks in a column. Wandering around the castle talking to people feels like it has actual benefits and an actual point, which it never did in the other games.

And the gameplay in the battle portions is good. Awakening was really easy, which is not a complaint because there’s nothing wrong with a game being easy. Fates was either too easy or too hard, depending on which version you played—I walked through Birthright on hard with my eyes closed but had moments where I almost quit Conquest on the same difficulty, and that’s just bad balancing—but I feel like this one is a good mix of difficulty. It’s harder than Fates or Awakening, but there are some game mechanics in it that can really ease the pain of dying in a level. I personally think it’s a good balance, though you should never ask someone who plays the game on hard whether they think it’s the right level of difficulty.

I think they got back to what made Fire Emblem good in the first place with this game. The writing of the characters is really good. The plot a generic Fire Emblem plot for the most part, but since they force you to pick a side and then they actually succeed in making you care about the sides you didn’t choose, so you feel bad when you murder all your old friends, is really well done. I took the Black Eagles Route, sided with Edelgard and immediately had to kill one of Isaac’s favourite characters, which upset me because I liked him too, but then upset me more because Isaac guilted me about it for three weeks. It was legitimately emotionally upsetting, though.

The game lets you pick and choose, to a degree, who you have on your army. You can steal students from the other teams have them join your class, and then you don’t have to kill them later. I took as many of them as I could to save their lives. Isaac got everyone he wanted to fuck on his team. And there’s a good level of customization there, so you can play around with the characters and find what works best for you and them, though by and large there are clear recommended classes and weapons for each character. This means of building the game how you want it to be is really well done as well.

Now, all my criticisms centre around the educational setting of the game. I know student/teacher relationships are a thing that people are into and that’s fine, but It would have been nice if I could have had a few more romance options with people who weren’t my students. There’s a nice time skip so you’re not sleeping with them when you’re literally grading their essays the next day, but they still call you Professor. Like, there’s no moral reason why you can’t date a former student if you’re reasonably close in age, as long as it is a former student and everyone is clear on that and the relationship doesn’t start before that former gets put in place, but not everyone is going to want to do that (partially this is motivated by the fact that I named my character Yancy, but to be fair, I think if she wasn’t his student, Edelgard would be his type. Not that I’ve thought about this in any detail or anything).

Also: You walk into this monastery, the pope doesn’t know you from Adam, you have quite literally no qualifications, and you are immediately made a professor because the pope and your dad are friends who secretly hate each other. This is not how getting hired as a professor works and I understand that there’s a Major Secret Plot Reason why it happens like this, but what the fuck? Seteth is right to be suspicious of you for the first half of the game, you’ve just wandered into this institution and were suddenly given this amazing job. And you’re living in the student dormitories? Nothing about the way education works in this game makes any sense at all, and I think that should be pointed out.

It would be nice if there were more queer options. It’s great that there are a bunch of f/f ones because it’s often lesbian romances that get erased in fiction, but it does also feel a bit male gaze-y at times, like they did that because the male writers presumed a male player would be into the idea of lesbians. Considering there’s only one m/m romantic option, it’s just something I wonder about. Especially since another feature that returns to the franchise that after an absence in Awakening and Fates is heavy queer-coding of a lot of the characters but no real queer romance options for them—it’s pretty clear that both Caspar and Bernadetta are gay, for example—which seems a bit odd to me. Why not just have more queer romance options? Or let some of the characters get with each other? Anyway, it would have been nice.

Three Houses is a really good game overall, it’s a great continuation of the franchise that I think really gets it back on track. Definitely worth playing through.

Also I want to be allowed to fuck Caspar and Ashe and Cyril and Claude and a lot of the guys actually maybe like all of them? Playing as a guy shouldn’t limit my dick options to one dick is all I’m saying so I should be allowed to seduce whoever I want. Also there should be sex scenes and a they should get naked in the sauna and I liked the weapons in Fates that made them wear their underwear.

You know what, I’ll just fix the typos in that and leave it in. As an apology for killing one of Isaac’s boyfriends.

2 thoughts on “Oliver’s Review of Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s