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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Products & Purchases
The latest in the Fire Emblem franchise, which has spawned multiple games, crossover appearances, and more. It has also featured additional downloadable content, including new costumes, game features, and the most recent pack adding a hidden fourth house to explore as a side storyline.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the lost items players find and return to another character references alcohol.
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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. The game has also released optional downloadable content (DLC) which has included new costumes, new game modes, and even a fourth group of students to interact with and command on the battlefield.
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. What's also notable is the addition of new content which has added new content, such as extra battles, new characters to recruit, new character classes to play, and even new activities in the monastery to participate in with your favorite students or faculty. The latest DLC pack adds a mysterious fourth house, the Ashen Wolves, who are small, but powerful fighters in their own right. Discovering why these characters are below the monastery is an interesting tale, and it's handled as a side quest so you can complete it and recruit these students to your main game, unlocking new quests and story elements along the way.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.