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A Critique on Fire Emblem Three Houses Part one

Some great video games tell compelling stories. Fire Emblem Three Houses is said to game for me. It is a tactical turn-based RPG developed by Intelligent Systems and Koei Namco for the Nintendo Switch. It is the story of three houses warring for control of their land.

Fire Emblem is a series of Tactical role-playing games based on medieval times. Three Houses is the 16th entry in the critically acclaimed series. To break it down even further, imagine chess, but with characters, you can empathize with.

The most notable feature in all of the games is the permadeath feature. This feature makes it so that if an ally character falls in battle, they are gone for the rest of the game, barring some key players that still appear in cut scenes. This feature adds to the strategy, forcing players to think several times about sending a unit to specific locations.

The Story

Three Houses tell the story of a character named Byleth (essentially you) navigating through the land of Foldlan (This game’s country/ location) and choosing their fate based upon the house (country in Fodlan) they select.

The houses follow three leading lords: Edlegard, Princess of the Adrestian Empire. Then there’s Dimitri, Prince of the Holy Kingdom of Fargeus. Lastly, there’s Claude, Heir to the head of the Lescter Alliance. Each Lord has compelling backstories and unique trials. Each lord has a subset of members that track your journey.

This adds replayability as you want to learn about each lord and their constituents up close and personal. Each house also has its journey you get to follow as they encounter leading a set piece of land and the trials that come with it.

Critique Direction

As far as this critique goes, I want to discuss this game’s story and the main villains. For me personally, I believe it was lacking. Granted, I enjoyed the storylines for what they were worth. However, I always felt something was missing during the story, which bothered me. Before I talk about the story, I wish to give another spoiler warning; I will spoil this game a lot for those who have not played it. This critique isn’t about how I hate this game or that it’s terrible. It’s a fan wishing to rectify some deficiencies in the game to improve the total experience. Again, this is my opinion; if you enjoyed the game, I hope you don’t take this to heart.

In this first part of my critique, I will speak generally about the villains and their roles. As the details continue, I will flesh out the characters and where the story could have gone.

The Villains I will cover are in this order.

Edlegard, Lady Rhea, Those who slither in the Dark.

Each other these characters play a villain role in one way or another. Each has a complete story of why they are villains, which makes this game charismatic. The villain’s motives and the tragedy attached to them make them relatable and characters you wish to fight for.

Edlegard intro

Let’s take Edlegard, for example. She can be a playable character if you choose her house. Which means you can get close to her and learn about her. Her primary conflict cycles around her tragic past and how those who slither in the dark tortured her growing up. This conflicted her immensely to the point that she became angry with the central church and the Crest system (a game mechanic and a plot point of the game). This caused her to conjure up a grand scheme to unify Foldlan.

Edlegard’s genuine anger was with Those Who Slither in the Dark, the group who killed her siblings in experiments and forcefully ingrained the Crest of Flames into her, shortening her lifespan. However, this pushed her into wanting to eradicate Crests and their power over Foldan. The complexity of Edlegard’s mission and how connected you become to her and her plight can push you to join her cause in a pivotal decision that can change the game’s course for you overall. These are the winding paths and connections in this game. As a player, you can connect to these characters and attach yourself to them because of their compelling stories.

What’s Next?

In the following piece, I will critique Edlegard’s story and express what I think should’ve been done differently. Finishing with Edlegard, I will talk about Lady Rhea, Those Who Slither in the Dark, then speak on Dimitri and Claude. Lastly, I will write about how this game critiques modern society and its class systems, which is what I love about this game the most. Stay tuned.

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