Fire Emblem took a long time to make a splash in America, but even before Three Houses came out, I knew the game was super-popular in the United States and Europe. The series had been Japan-only for a very long time, but at least the old-school system where characters would die permanently is entirely optional. Three Houses was the first game for a Nintendo Switch console since the era of the 3DS games. Which makes sense as the Nintendo Switch is both a console and a handheld. But did this game become the series’ magnum opus? Or was it under par?
The game starts in a new land (don’t expect Marth, Lucina, or Chrom in this one) with a mysterious and almost god-like young woman finding your avatar in some kind of strange realm. Her name is Sothis, but she has no real memories…or even a real body. She is merely a spirit. You are Byleth (you can choose Byleth to be male or female) and you a mercenary-turned professor. You find out why that’s important later.
Your new job is at some big monastery/school in the center of a continent separated by three different countries. The first is an declining Empire, another is a hopeful Kingdom, and another is an strange “alliance” of dukes and other lords. The realm is at peace and students from all three lands come to learn things, which mostly means how to battle in war.
Early on you get to pick a House to lead. Unlike Harry Potter, in Three Houses, the houses are dictated by where the students are from rather than their core nature. I chose Edelgard of the Black Eagles, and she’s a Princess who is destined to be the new Emperor (yes, they don’t use the term Empress) of the Empire. You can recruit students from other houses later on, but this is your main team.You do a lot of bonding with students as you wander around the school and do various quests/missions.
Battles are pretty much the same as the other Fire Emblem games. Byleth and Edelgard are the leaders in battle, Byleth is better with a sword while Edelgard is talented with an axe. Other students are good archers, lancers, and magicians. While some characters are a little useless (even leveled-up) against the boss characters, knowing how to use each of them to their advantage is key if you want to get through just one of four different 40+ hour routes the game can take you through.
Due to not enough time and energy, I only completed the Crimson Flower route which does feel like a full game on its own. I could have went down routes with Dimitri, Claude, and I hear Rhea’s own side, but there’s a lot leveling-up and I’m sure a lot of redundancy. While I really enjoyed the game, I have so much else to play that it’s not really a question. Unlike my time with Fire Emblem: Awakening, I was able to make it all the way to the literal end, but that final stage is a nightmare of frustration. All things said, it’s one of the best games on Nintendo Switch, without a doubt in my mind.