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10th Aug 2019 | 94 views
Ever since I first played Final Fantasy Tactics, I have been a huge SRPG fan. I've played them all, from Disgaea to Valkyria Chronicles to Fire Emblem. But the latest Fire Emblem may be the peak of the SRPG genre to date.
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you are Byleth, the child of a renowned mercenary who has lost their memory - at the beginning of your game, you choose whether Byleth is male or female. You become a teacher at a prestigious international military academy under the leadership of the Church of Seiros. You are presented with one of three houses over which you will become a professor. Each of these houses is a mix of commoner and noble, with every student having their own unique personality. Your mission is to train your charges into military leaders, while uncovering a corrupt plot that threatens to engulf the land in a devastating war.
FE: Three Houses adds a lot of social link elements seen in games like Persona and Sakura Wars to the mix. You must bond with your students, as well as help them foster bonds with each other, to be more effective on the battlefield. In addition, your reputation as a teacher is under constant scrutiny. Be a good teacher, and you will have more motivated students that will be more likely to win battles. During each free day, you are given a set number of activity points to engage in various activities from battle to social activities. These activity points increase as your reputation as a teacher grows. Unlike most other SRPGs, you can freely explore the monastery where the military academy is located on foot. These activities, along with battlefield successes, dictate the growth of your students and allow you to customize them within their strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that each student has a unique personality that must be reckoned with.
The turn-based battles are as tense as always. The new graphics engine for Three Houses really brings the game to life during fight scenes, though the maps themselves are a bit low resolution. You can, however, choose to zoom into a action at the ground level, providing a Valkyria Chronicles-style perspective. At the beginning, your students are neophytes and are in constant danger from the enemies, who are generally more skilled than your characters. Over time. At the beginning, you can choose whether or not to have classic Fire Emblem rules, which means that once a warrior dies, he or she is dead for good. There are no Phoenix Downs in the Fire Emblem world. You will really get attached to your students as you play the game, so consider your moves carefully, as the enemies will often gang up on one character they consider to be an easy target.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. It's certainly not on the level of God of War, but it has beautiful character artwork and environments, and the ability to zoom in on battlefields adds a lot to the game. The game generally runs very well, with only the occasional stutter during exploration mode at the monastery. The battle scenes are fast-paced and brutal. The soundtrack is quite good as well, with dynamic changes depending on whether you are in movement or battle mode. It could use a little more variety, but what is there is very well done.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the best game I have played this year up until now, and it represents a new high-water mark for the series and the SRPG genre as a while. It is loaded with enough content to keep RPG fans entertained for days. This game deserves to be a blockbuster, and Nintendo, Intelligent Systems, and Koei Tecmo have turned out a product the designers can be proud of. If you love SRPGs or are a fan of the Switch in general, FE: Three Houses is not to be missed.