Paige FTW: ‘Three Houses’ Offers Triple The Strategy

The revival and renaissance of Fire Emblem has seen the series meander into rather odd directions at times from its classic routes — two titles devoted to breeding your army to create the perfect super soldiers, for instance — but Three Houses is a magnificent return to form, with precisely the right amount of innovation and fealty to the time-proven formula.

Three Houses’ spiritual predecessor is not Awakening or Fates — but Sacred Stones, where choice is paramount.

The story is simple, at first: You, a former mercenary, are recruited to serve as professor at a martial academy. Naturally, you have to pick one of three houses to take under your wing. Each has a unique storyline, though most (but not all) characters are available on every route. Things go into overdrive after that.

Three Houses takes choice a step further by introducing a time management system that governs how your characters develop. As a professor, you decide what your army (of students) focus on, how their supports develop, whether they take on extra training battles and what classes they change into with a limited pool of “points” between story fights. The result is a Persona-esque balancing act that necessitates that every player will end up with different priorities. Do you let your characters pursue areas of study that interest them, even if it consumes more resources? Do you forgo social development for more of that sweet, sweet EXP?

Plus, every character has skills, special abilities (that allow you to trade weapon durability for extra damage, for instance), battalions … the level of customization is honestly a little overwhelming. No, you don’t marry off your soldiers — but that’s OK, because you do whatever you want, if you have the patience. You can create an entire army of Pegasus knights, if you wanted. The world is your oyster as it never was before in Fire Emblem.

As a turn-based strategy RPG experience, Three Houses is superb. No more needs to be said.