Three Houses a masterstroke from Nintendo
Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Nintendo Switch, 9/10
Nintendo's relentless onslaught of exclusive titles has worked out very well for them in the past few years, and the slew of marvellous releases has shown no signs whatsoever of abating.
In fact, the latest exclusive is easily one of the best in recent memory and a further ringing endorsement for ownership of the company's current flagship console - the Switch.
The Fire Emblem series has been a stalwart of Nintendo consoles since time incarnate, but in recent years it has been unfortunately relegated to their handheld devices. For the first time in over ten years, fans can now welcome the action-strategy series back to their living rooms, and what an incredible comeback it is. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a beautiful amalgamation of tropes from various fantasy settings, but the two most obvious are the Persona games and Harry Potter.
The premise is thus: you are a newly hired professor at a monastery-cum-school that seeks to prepare its students for the rigors of battle. If this sounds strange, that's because it is. This strangeness is also a huge part of the captivating beauty of the game - a true escape from reality even while half the game is cloaked in the trappings of a 'life simulator'.
The monastery exists as a reprieve from the ferocious and mentally taxing turn-based battles that the series has a well-deserved reputation for. This area is essentially an enormous explorable fortress that's home to both a church for the dominant religion of the land, and an academy for military officers of the three houses that make up the continent of Fodlan. Much like Harry Potter's sorting hat - students are divided into these houses where they will spend their time while learning the battle arts necessary to wage war upon enemies and blasphemers. It truly is an awe-inspiring setting that provides ample opportunity to live vicariously through your character's exciting exploits. There is a wealth of secondary activities to perform alongside your expectations as a lecturer but they never truly feel forced down your throat.
While there is an incredible amount to see and do, the combat is truly where the meat of the game lies. The grid-based turn-based fighting has seen little change since the last release in the series, which can only be a good thing as the system has weathered the test of time with good reason. It is difficult but fair.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is another masterstroke from Nintendo, who are consistently piling on the 'fear of missing out' to gamers who have yet to pull the trigger on a Switch.