Hitbox Review: ‘Fire Emblem: Three Houses’

“Three Houses” has great character development and gameplay.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Cover Art. Courtesy of Nintendo.

Release Date: July 26, 2019

Developer: Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo, Koei, Koei Tecmo Games

Platform: Nintendo Switch

“Fire Emblem: Three Houses” is the first Fire Emblem game that I have played. It is a Japanese roleplaying series known for its strategic turn-based combat. 

In “Three Houses” you play as the character Byleth who has a unique crest — a mark that grants a person power — which gives him the ability to wield the Sword of the Creator. 

The game takes place in the land of Fódlan where there are three Kingdoms at peace, the Adrestian Empire, the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance.

Byleth comes across the Garreg Mach Monastery where he becomes a professor of one of the three houses which correspond to each of the three kingdoms. You choose to teach the Black Eagles, Golden Deer, or the Blue Lions. Each house has its weaknesses and strengths, but characters outside of the house that you choose can still be recruited to your team. 

As a professor Byleth has to train his students to become stronger, level up stats, complete quests, and create stronger bonds with characters within the monastery. It also has the same strategic turn base game style that most Fire Emblem games are known for.

My experience playing “Three Houses” has been interesting. The initial thing I noticed is there is a lot of talking, which helps build the character arc for each character in the game. Each character in the game has their own unique backstory, and seeing their development throughout the game was satisfying. 

The anxiety and emotional investment gets especially intense when you are playing in the  classic game mode. If a character drops to zero health, then that character is deceased for the remainder of the game. It’s like watching an anime and your favorite character gets killed. If you have watched “Attack On Titan,” then you know what I mean.

Before starting the game, you have the option for three different difficulties: normal, hard, and maddening; and two modes: classic and casual. I selected casual and normal since this was my first time playing but regret not selecting hard and classic since the game seemed too easy. I could just auto-play my way through battles. However, the gameplay was intellectually stimulating. 

The house that I selected was the Black Eagles, which represent the Adrestian Empire and are led by Edelgard, the princess and heir to the Adrestian Empire. The Black Eagles have a lot of strong magic users and ranged characters. There are not any heavier armored or buff characters although I tended to train Edelgard to fill that role. 

To offset the ranged attackers, I made Byleth and Edelgard as my front line for most battles. Lastly, the anime art style of the cutscenes are enjoyable to watch, and when the game is completed,the scenes are available to watch again.

In-game screenshot courtesy of Nintendo.

Overall I really enjoyed playing this game. It is a grind, and it can be tiresome at times to read and manage all of the little details that need to be attended to, especially in the beginning stages of the game. It takes a few hours to really get going. I particularly enjoyed the combat and character development of the game which is enough to stick around for as the story unfolds.

The next game in this series, Fire Emblem Engage, comes out Jan. 20, 2023. Engage stars the playable main character Alear who has the quest to collect the twelve emblem rings and defeat the awakening Fell Dragon after its thousand year slumber. The Fell Dragon is a threat, and it is up to Alear and the other ring bearers to summon heroes that can ultimately restore peace to the land.