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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Fire Emblem: Three Houses Game Poster Image
Tough strategy game forces players to make hard choices.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The multifaceted story includes family drama, romance, friendship, betrayal, as well as themes of duty, nobility, sacrifice, and faith. Play encourages forward thinking, tactical decision making, and learning to live with the consequences of those decisions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players control and interact with dozens of characters, each with their own quirks. Depending on their backgrounds and interests, they may be introverted, brash, courageous, protective, egotistical, outgoing, authoritative, lazy, or brainy. Most aim to be charming, helpful, and kind, though some are also cruel, deceptive, and traitorous.

Ease of Play

Multiple difficulty levels and the option to switch on or off permanent character deaths should allow players of all ability levels to make the game as hard or easy as they like. It takes time to understand both combat strategy as well as how characters grow and support each other, but the learning curve is gradual.

Violence

Players command anime warriors and their battalions in turn-based military combat. Attacks involve swords, axes, lances, bows and arrows, and various types of magic. Successful hits are accompanied by flashes of light and grunts of pain. Characters fall to the ground and disappear once defeated. Dramatic cut scenes show stabbings, blood, and the deaths of major characters.

Sex

Characters frequently flirt with each other and speak in mild general terms about their dates and conquests. Some female characters dress in skimpy dresses and skirts.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the lost items players find and return to another character references alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical turn-based fantasy role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch featuring a group of military academy students and faculty. Players command and interact with a cast of dozens of characters, directing -- but not directly controlling -- movements and attacks involving swords, axes, bows and arrows, and magic. Flashes of light accompany successful strikes, and defeated characters fall to the ground and disappear. An optional "permadeath" feature keeps defeated heroes from returning to combat. Anime narrative scenes show stabbings, blood, and the deaths of central characters. Primary characters exhibit a mix of traits, ranging from altruism, assertiveness, and bravery to laziness, cruelty, and deception, though most are concerned with the best interests of their friends, family, and the empire. Play encourages kids to think before acting as they realize that their actions have irreversible consequences, both in terms of how the story unfolds and which of the heroes make it through one battle to fight in the next.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written bySylve0w0n August 22, 2019

Great story and gameplay, deep messages and conflicts that could be better understood by older kids

The game features a lot of great storytelling but the decisions to choose between houses and go against former allies can be difficult and at times heartbreakin... Continue reading

What's it about?

FIRE EMBLEM: THREE HOUSES brings the long-running tactical turn-based role-playing game series to Switch. It puts players in the armor of a mysterious young man or woman (players get to select gender) who takes on the role of a professor at a military academy located in an ancient monastery at a time when mysterious events are taking place across the church-run empire. He or she becomes the leader of one of the academy's houses, teaching students the art of combat while also attending to relationships forged with both the pupils and faculty. As months pass, the students wage mock battles, go out on missions to serve the monastery and church, and slowly develop their skills and friendships with one another by eating, having tea together, and attending balls and festivals. These characters will also go through other events like fishing, weapon training tournaments, and choir practice. Battles see players take command of their students, controlling their movements on gridded fields while choosing from an expanding array of attacks and abilities. Characters gradually level up, change classes, and learn how to use new weapons and gear. But players who choose to play with a feature called "permadeath" enabled will need to exercise caution, as any defeated heroes won't return for subsequent battles, their experience and skills lost forever.

Is it any good?

Those who've played previous games in this beloved series know what they're in for here: Chess-like tactics with decisions that can have game-changing consequences. Fire Emblem: Three Houses delivers all of this, and plenty more. There's much more dialogue and character development here than in previous Fire Emblem games, with players able to spend an hour or more running around the monastery between battles as they talk to and teach students, fulfill quest requirements, and carry out tasks that include gardening, fishing, cooking, and hosting tea parties. There's also more opportunity to practice combat and grind levels, thanks to a variety of quest battles, prologue missions, and monster routing assignments that come available every week. Expect to sink scores of hours into this one -- more if you choose to replay as each of the two houses you didn't initially pick (each comes with its own set of playable characters) in your first playthrough.

But some other changes in this bigger and more ambitious entry might not sit as well with certain players. Though the optional "permadeath" feature returns, it doesn't have the same significance as in previous games. Rather than disappearing completely from the story, defeated characters are placed on a permanent disabled list of sorts rather than outright killed. They can often still be seen and interacted with in and around the monastery. Plus, a new time rewinding feature means players can revert to a previous turn to avoid the deaths of particularly beloved heroes. And while the expanded array of activities between battles is interesting at first, it can get repetitive as players feel the need to obsessively seek out everyone to return lost items they've found and see if they've got anything new or interesting to say. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a good addition to the series, and it makes great use of the Switch hardware for improved graphics and on-the-go play, but franchise traditionalists may find themselves wishing for a return to its hardcore roots.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, tasks tend to overlap and lead seamlessly into each other, making it hard to quit playing, so how do you decide when it's time to stop playing a game?

  • Not every problem has a clear solution, and once a choice is made it can be hard or impossible to take back, so how do you feel confident about making and then living with the results of difficult decisions, even if things don't turn out as you'd like or intend?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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