Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Fire Emblem: Harry Potter

Hmmm, there seems to be a small typo in the title of my post. :) The game is actually called Fire Emblem: Three Houses, on the Nintendo Switch. But as the game mainly plays in a school, which teaches magic among other things, there is a certain Harry Potter vibe to the game. At the core this is a game of the Fire Emblem series, with a solid turn-based tactical combat system. Around this core system is constructed a story in which you teach a class of students of one of three possible "houses" of the school. The students are then your units in battle, and so there is a whole art around selecting what skills to teach them, because those in turn unlock various character classes.

And then there is another layer built around that, one in which you manage relations between your avatar and the students, as well as between students. Improve relations and your units will support each other better in battle, but also you'll get to see a cut scene of the interaction between the two characters, which reveals a part of their individual story. Thus a good amount of time is spent running through the school and talking to people, doing minor quests, and following the many different story threads.

The advantage of that system is that it improves replayability. Just choose a different house next time around, and you will have a base set of different characters, which will have different interactions and cutscenes with each other. The first part of the main story will remain the same, but the house story and side stories will be different. However right now I am not very worried about replayability, because this is not a short game. I'm 25 hours in, and because I am not rushing it I am only in chapter 8 out of 21. Apparently you can get through just the main story in 40 hours if you don't do extras, but why would I want to? While I haven't seen it myself yet, there is apparently a New Game Plus mode in which you can play a different house the second time around without completely losing everything from your first game.

I very much like the combat system of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. And I like the training system. I do find the way to tell a story by dialogues between the different characters interesting; but I have to admit that at some point where I had done a lot of battles in series and thus improved a lot of relations between my students, sitting through dozens of cutscenes got a bit tedious. And while you can travel within the school by fast travel, I am not a big fan of the fact that one has to explore every corner of the school manually every month to find hidden items and books that improve your professor level.

Overall however I find that Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a very good game, and I can recommend it.

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