Fire Emblem: Three Houses isn’t just an excellent RPG and turn-based strategy game, it’s a narrative tour-de-force.
There’s a captivating world at the heart of it all, with lush visuals, scintillating music and well-developed characters.
But the real icing on the cake is the in-game relationships. Bonds that become so important they not only enrich the story even further but affect the gameplay.
Most interestingly, no relationship is the same because the personalities clash so much. Raphael may end up having a really in-depth conversation about food with Leonie, but when he tries talking to Lysithea, he can’t say anything right because she finds him childish.
Go deeper into the game’s side-stories for each of the characters, though, and you start to learn more about Raphael and why he acts the way he does. For all the characters, in fact.
Likewise, some of the female characters feel rightly creeped out by Lorenz’s obsession trying to make them ‘perfect’ and trying to mould them into his own image, but some of the younger males hear him as something of a voice of authority due to his royal pedigree.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a brilliant game in so many ways, taking the best of the franchise with its turn-based combat and in-depth storytelling, but also the way relationships evolve and how that impacts your in-game progression. For instance, the way units work with one another is very creative and encourages you to engage with its side content.
The more you take the time to build up relationships between units and develop a synergy, the more boosts to attack and defense you can have through Gambits. When units stand next to each other on the battlefield and perform some of the game’s special attacks, they’ll be more effective if the units trust one another.
Nintendo have painted the picture masterfully, too. By having that initial dialogue between two characters be frosty, uncertain, cautious, but as a friendship blooms, things get more comfortable and friendly.
It does get quite tough to manage, though. Not everyone is going to get along and you’ll soon learn compatibility isn’t always completely possible between everyone, especially since you can recruit almost the entire school to your class. Fire Emblem: Three Houses boasts such a deep roster that you’ll eventually find yourself becoming selective about who you should spend your time supporting.
Likewise, it’s important to build your own relationships with your students, making best use of your free time by specialising in subjects that interest them, inviting them to meals, buying them flowers, running errands and uncovering lost items.
You can even host Tea Parties, select the type of tea you’d like to give them, then talk about a subject you think is relevant to their interest. Get it right and you’ll hit it off and your own relationship with bloom and blossom with your students.
For a game that seems driven by its combat on the battlefield, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is truly about comradery, partnership and building trust.
That’s a lovely message for any game to send out, but it also makes for a refreshing and incredibly enjoyable experience for hours on end.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of my favourite games this year and because of the care and consideration it invests in its characters, remains rewarding over twenty five hours in and beyond.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is out now on Nintendo Switch
Review code kindly provided by Nintendo