Now, Three houses wasn't the first Fire Emblem game I ever had my hands on, but it's probably the only one that I've ever finished. My previous console, the 3DS, I had a chance to play Awakening and Fate, actually owns them, but I usually lost interest halfway, as my priorities stop me from focusing on games that can't be finished in one sitting or party games like Mario Kart 7. But I'm glad I still have the cartridges for both game from the previous generation, maybe one day I can actually finish them.
What an opening
Now I'm the kind of guy who sometimes skips the cinematic if it gets too long and it bores me, but I told myself, this time I'm going to finish the game, and I was blown away by the opening. The battle system, granted it does not look like the cinematic videos, are still enjoyable and as fun as Fire Emblem game, tactical, chess like grid style battle. Reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics to be honest, and I am a die hard fan of FF Tactics.
Story starts with you, as a protagonist who stumble upon the school students who were attacked by bandits, and being a charming hero you are (or heroine), you jumped into the battle and help them out. The introductory battle was a piece of cake, but don't take my word on it as I've played Fire Emblem before, although I do have my anxiety shot up as I enable permadeath my first time playing Three Houses (which I disabled later because I could not handle the anxiety) and in order to enjoy the game story without worrying that any of my major character dying from my rookie mistake of leaving them undefended at some dark corner being mobbed by the baddies.
Pick your house, or let the sorting hat pick them for you
Hogwarts joke aside, unlike the previous game like Fate, where you choose your starting base on which game that you buy, three houses gave you an option once you reach the school ground, which some people jokingly said reminds them of hogwarts, it being an old school, with dining hall and common area. I really like the choices they gave, and I was jet set on picking Black Eagle way before I even start the game because well I like their flag and uniform colours.
Once you joined the school as one of their professor, you get to talk to everyone from all three houses before you make that decision as it will determine how the story progress. Mind you, all the characters in the game have their own quirks and personalities that you might fall in love with and probably change your mind.
New Battle System
Veterans of the series would quickly notice that they have revamped the battle system. Your weapons no longer break, but it will still have usage points where once you use up all the points, the weapon will no longer be dealing optimum damages. This can quickly be fixed by visiting the local blacksmith in the school compound and paying a small fee.
But what takes the spotlight is the battalion system. You each get to hire a battalion to fight with you in the battle and each can be equipped to characters that you will be bringing into battle. As you won more battles, your battalions grow with you and level up, which will then gives you more bonus stats in battles. These little stats will help determine the damages you will do, or your accuracies, among other things.
No more weapon triangle
It seems that Koei have replaced weapon triangle with a system where each weapons will be useful depending on the mastery of the users who wield them, and of course, you can train the masteries either by grinding in battles, or by going around the school looking for a sparring partner or weapon masters to train you in your free time. In my first play through, I went all out with Axe on my character, as it seems that Axe provides most raw damage, but in my next gameplay maybe I'll go bow or magic.
Time management simulator
Most people prefer to go through the stories without dealing with the new management simulator that the developer seems to be introducing. Not me, I like how you can shape your character and your students just the way you wanted, which includes study plans, have tea party with your students, join a sparring match or fighting tournaments and if we should be involved in local wars, bandit attacks and even defending nearby village. All these gives you more to do and cutscenes that you will not regret, and as you fight alongside your students more, their stories unlocked and they become closer to you. You will start to know more about them and just like previous Fire Emblems, you get to spend your life with them at the end of the game. They even wrote prologue stories for you depending on who you end up with, which is really nice add on.
This is not a review
I started writing this because I wanted to let you guys know how awesome the story is and how amazing the gameplay is for me. I am nowhere as good as those reviewers who wrote for those gaming sites, but I just want to share my thoughts after finishing this game and mind you, I finished this quite some time ago, but I got distracted with Dragon Quest Builder 2. For me, this is a must buy, and if you are a collector, the metal case edition has a very nice and sleek cover that you probably want for your man cave.
My only complain about this game? The house name, I mean you have Blue Lion because they are wearing blue, Golden Deer, because well they are wearing yellow, then... you have Black eagle, and I'm pretty sure Red Eagle would've been more appropriate.
My verdict to those who still can't decide? Well if you've played Fire Emblem before or familiar with grid tactical games like Super Robot Wars, Disgaea or even Final Fantasy, this is a must buy! If the time management part turns you off, don't worry, you can pretty much ignore it and play the game if you wish too, but I highly recommend that you do. There is a lot of contents in this game that made my money worth it. I mean for my first playthrough, I spend almost 40 hours including cutscene and I really enjoy them, and guess what? There's 4 routes in total, so that's another 100 hours more content for me!
Well I hope I helped you out on that decision, till then!