Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the emblem you don't expect

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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I put the controller on the desk, just before the credits. The journey was long, intense, complex and not without problems. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is finished and the latest images scroll on the screen. Nintendo Switch was home not only to the three houses of this tactical RPG from Intelligent Systems but also to a complex tangle of plots and stories so deep that I was able to ignore the summer heat wave that gripped me.

I was afraid that after the success of Fire Emblem: Awakening and the excellent result of Fire Emblem Fates, the step towards Nintendo Switch could be one of adjustment or transition. After all, it is the first time in years that the series has landed on a home console and it is the first time you approached high definition, a musou spin-off aside. All fears have been swept away as if by wind magic from the first hours of the game and made even more evanescent by the following. Of course, it wasn't all shiny gold and there were some fake steps, but not such as to preclude the enjoyment of the game.



Temporal power and spiritual power

I read all the dialogues a lot and avidly because Intelligent Systems took my breath away more than once, with a script worthy of being told in a book. In the past, the Fire Emblem series has often been characterized by a fine narrative (albeit with some ups and downs), but in this chapter they have surpassed them. The basic structure of the gun school and of the three houses seems to be a forced thread until you have the game in your hands. Everything is almost perfect. Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes us by the hand to discover the political order of the continent of Fodlan, between great past conflicts and a precarious balance supported by a religious cult that takes on the contours of a strong temporal rather than spiritual power.



The narrative of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is worthy of a fantasy book

It is difficult to give a single interpretation of the events that follow one another from the arrival of our character inside the monastery / academy. There is a taste of conflicts similar to that between Guelphs and Ghibellines, but also some influences of the stories of the Crusades in the Holy Land. What in the first part seems to be a very adolescent story turns, chapter after chapter, into a branched network of intrigue, terrorism and power struggles that in the second part becomes more mature and painful. The almost innocent and genuine children of the beginning at that point become responsible adults on whom the choices of the whole continent weigh.

In the approximately fifty hours of play that lead to the first final, one perceives how necessary and necessary more than one run is to discover all the deviations that the conflict can take due to the choices we will make. Replaying Fire Emblem: Three Houses is not a simple option, but a pleasant obligation to satiate your curiosity in discovering how different the ending can be depending on the faction. A choice that also helps to extend the duration and to wait without worries for the additional contents that will arrive with the expansion pass.

Good first in high definition

In this concentration of dense plots the characters and backgrounds of the various characters stand out with often violent and tormented stories behind them to be discovered in every empathic dialogue. Here Fire Emblem: Three Houses wisely manages to blend Western and Eastern themes and styles not failing to include very differentiated characters in the collective with some obvious stereotypes typical of Japanese culture. The character design, made in cell shading, is appreciated for the cleanliness and refinement of the details. The anime style of the realization of the 3D models is striking for its incredible final result immediately recognizable and impact.



And this quality is even more reinforced by the fact that, excluding the spin-off Fire Emblem Warriors, this is the first chapter made in high definition. The Fire Emblem's first step into HD graphics is great, but not devoid of some neighbors. The character models are nice and clearly visible even during the panoramic battles but are also marred by a bit of aliasing. Nothing that can ruin the work done on them, mind you. Where, on the other hand, we must make a proper note is on the seabed and the scenarios. The academy that we can freely explore in the third person is poorly characterized and has few details and very angular elements. Seeing sharp angles and little softness of the buildings makes the novelty of the free exploration of Fire Emblem: Three Houses less captivating than what the narrative manages to give.

The least convincing point in my view are the pre-rendered scenarios present in the cut scenes that are battered by fading of the image and a general low definition. A real shame if you think about how pleasant it is to admire the other, less frequent, animation scenes which have been given a lot of care to the point of hoping in the future of seeing a Fire Emblem anime along the lines of the Castelvania transpositions and Devil May Cry on Netflix. All of this obviously loses some definition and frame rate in portable mode, but it's a price you can pay given the amount of models on the screen.

The Fire Emblem's first step into HD graphics is great, but not without its gimmicks.

And if the eye languishes a little, the ear appreciates. The essentiality and familiarity of her are the masters in the soundtrack of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Epic sounds with a clear Celtic inspiration that carry even more towards the fantastic epic of Fodlan with well-timed dramatic passages and without any real flaws. A light sound accompaniment that does not overpower but accompanies almost imperceptibly all phases of the game. Even the dubbing (English and Japanese) is clean and meets the standards of this type of production in terms of quality.



The renewal of the emblem

Flying over these little ones in the graphs and launching a cannon in the actual game, you can immediately grasp the immense renewal made by Intelligent Systems in the gameplay Fire Emblem: Three Houese. Change of course already partially started with Fates on 3DS and which in this chapter for Nintendo Switch takes the form of a real revolution. The first aspect already mentioned is the free exploration that occurs only in some situations and is only possible in the academy (and in some other place that we cannot name to avoid spoilers). An aspect that fits perfectly into the other new game mechanics keeping the root from turn-based tactical RPG, but giving greater contextualization to the empathic dialogues and related cutscenes. In these moments of freedom of movement we will have many side actions to choose from and for which planning will be necessary given the limited number of actions that we will be able to perform.

It is precisely in these situations that the great novelty of teaching takes place. Fire Emblem: Three Houses shakes off the rigorous stakes of class progression and opens up to the player's freedom of choice. The teaching allows you to give magical abilities even to knights or even to completely change the direction in which to evolve the characters. And the class change will be modifiable over time, allowing you to use the same character in different situations depending on the situation.

This novelty perfectly matches those present on the battlefield in whose turn-based battles the triangle of sword-throwing-ax weaknesses has practically disappeared and has been replaced by greater versatility of the clashes. In addition they have also been included the accompanying battalions to individual characters to further increase the variety of attacks and strategies to choose from based on the situation.

To keep faith with the past of the saga, some mechanics related to the consumption of weapons, inventory management and game menus have remained unchanged, but the fights are now much less rigid in the mechanics and more open to different strategies. Because of this Fire Emblem: Three Houses seems to be one of the richest titles in terms of gameplay.

In all this renewal Intelligent Systems has also included two difficulty levels with the possibility of deactivating the permanent elimination from the game of units fallen in battle, a distinctive feature of the saga. This change of course combined with the possibility of rewinding time in the event of an error can give the feeling of having in your hands a game that takes you effortlessly towards the end. This is partly true, but only as long as you level the party with side missions. The parable of difficulty does not point too high but it flexes from time to time with some pitfalls that however hardly lead to game over.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses seems to be one of the richest titles in terms of gameplay.

To recall the legacy of the Fire Emblem series, the ease with which missions are passed can make more than one nose turn up. However, the strength of this game is precisely the accessibility that wants to open the doors of this RPG to everyone. It represents a good (re) starting point for finding new and old fans of the genre without the frustration of exasperated difficulty level. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is an academy that teaches the history of the brand, starting from the past but not forgetting to project towards tomorrow. For those with in-depth knowledge of the series, I recommend selecting the most difficult mode while waiting for the most difficult one, already promised.

USEFUL INFO

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a Nintendo Switch exclusive turn-based tactical RPG with weapon-consuming mechanics and an evolution of party member classes. The game is compatible with Online services only with statistics and temporary recruitment of characters.

Duration
  • The first main campaign should last around fifty hours.
  • To complete the game, the number of hours should reach approximately one hundred and thirty hours.
Structure
  • Single player mode with multiple endings to reach with new games.
  • Tactical RPG section with turn-based combat on a checkerboard map.
  • Party management section through a free roaming system with empathic dialogues and teaching phases to progress in the classes.
  • Amiibo Compatibility: All figurines give bonus items.
  • Expansion pass available.
Collectibles and Extras
  • Audio gallery.
  • Movie gallery.
  • Support conversation gallery.
Game Card
  • Game Name: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Release date: July 26 2019
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Dubbing language: English
  • Texts language: Italian

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a great pearl of the Nintendo Switch. The narrative quality cannot be overlooked, which is based on complex themes told carefully and without fear of daring, but always with that pinch of lightness typical of a Japanese production. It was difficult to match the desire for renewal with not distorting the tactical RPG structure that distinguishes the series, but Intelligent Systems has succeeded. There are some graphic defects but it takes a back seat compared to solid gameplay and without smudging and with an even wider depth than in the past. Trying out all the various plot deviations will feel almost natural and will offer hours and hours of gameplay. This title opens the doors to the general public even more with its scalable difficulty. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is yet another top-notch exclusive for Nintendo Switch that you can't miss.

Below you will also find the thought of our videogamingallday.com.

Videogamingallday.com review
Graphics

Excellent characters in cell shading and their characterization. Also very nice to watch the cut scenes in anime style. Less good are the somewhat antiquated and angular scenarios, with some background images in very low definition.

85
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

Epic soundtrack with a medieval and epic tone that does not fail to give space even to more oriental and melancholy sounds. The English / Japanese dubbing is good without shining.

85
GAMEPLAY

The challenge level is not as high as it used to be, but it is adaptable to almost any player. The radical changes to the combat and party management system have rejuvenated it admirably without upsetting it.

90
Total Rating scale
88
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