Details: There are three paths in this game and four endings, with the fourth ending being a “secret.” In my first play through, I ended up taking this fourth ending, which is part of one of the three paths. I spent about thirty-five hours playing through the game. Official site is https://fireemblem.nintendo.com/three-houses/
Fire Emblem: Three Houses goes full on Persona 5. It deviates from the trend of less social gameplay elements and dives headfirst into the social/school system popularized by games like Persona 5.
Three Houses takes place in a fantasy world of magic and kings. It takes place primarily in an area divided by three kingdoms. You play a mercenary who is recruited to be a teacher at a military academy for the best of each of these three kingdoms.
There are three houses in this school, like how there are four houses in Harry Potter. In the beginning of the game, you will have to pick one of these three houses and follow the story of that house. That means there are three divergent story lines with one of the three houses diverging again into another story line partway through the game.
I picked that house with the divergent story lines and played through on of that houses’s two endings. I can’t speak to the other story lines, but I enjoyed the story of what I played through. The story felt like a combination of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones (though not as adult).
Gameplay is one part tactical/strategy role playing game, one part high school sim. The tactical part is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disagea. You play a series of levels that seek to simulate battles. The battlefield is essentially a giant chess board or grid. You control a group of characters and take turns moving them around the grid. Each turn they can move around and take an action, like attacking or casting spells. Characters you control can level, equip armor and all the standard role playing game stuff. It’s a tried and true method of gameplay and it works here as it always has. The only real new element is that some enemies now have multiple health bars. Otherwise, there’s very little that is innovative here.
The other part of the game play is the school sim part. This is almost a direct copy of what was established in the Persona series. The school year progresses and you go through the calendar of the semester. Certain social events happen on certain days. You can form social bonds with the students in the school, which contributes to how effective they are during battle. Once a week you get a free day where you can explore the school grounds, do practice battles to grind out levels and get more loot, or have tea time with your friends. It’s almost identical to Persona 5, but it feels less well done. Persona 5 had more events going on that broke up the monotony of going through the same activities, over and over again. Since Three Houses does not have many significant social events, the social stuff got very repetitive very quickly.
Visually, the game looks like it was designed for the Playstation 2 or the Wii. On a technical level, this is not an amazing game. There is some cool art direction, character design and animation going on, but it just doesn’t look great when compared to other big name video games on the market. The environments and textures are especially not great. And it’s not as if such a thing isn’t possible on the Nintendo Switch. Super Mario Odyssey looked fantastic because they made up the technical gap with art style. Three Houses does not do that very well.
I will say that I love that this game is fully voiced and that does a lot for it. The voice acting is also pretty good with a lot of familiar voice actors in it. In a narrative game, voice acting is integral. The music is also mostly great.
Overall, this was a fun game, but I wish it was made for a more powerful system like the Playstation 4 or the PC. It is not amazing on a technical level. It also feels a little incomplete in that it emulates Persona 5, but not as well. Still, I did enjoy it and I do see myself playing through some of the alternate endings at a later date. I’m also glad they didn’t Pokemon the multiple endings into multiple game versions to try to get gullible consumers to buy multiple copies of the game.