How Fire Emblem: Three Houses Does Side Characters PerfectlyOct 13, 2019 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the shining examples of a game with outstanding side characters integrated into the storyline and gameplay perfectly. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why:
I’ve spent nearly 200 hours playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses and managed to finish all four routes. It’s safe to say that it’s one of the contenders for Game of the Year (and is my pick so far), and is arguably the best strategy JRPG in 2019.
Though it’s not a game for everybody, considering that it’s a slow-paced tactical RPG with anime storytelling that offers over a hundred hours of gameplay. However, it is one of the best examples of using side characters to immerse players more into its world. In many games, the spotlight rests on the main character, antagonist, and a few side characters. However, FE: 3H masterfully gives ample spotlight to nearly 30 side characters, which is a staggering number.
This makes you wonder: how in the world can a strategy JRPG provide over two dozen side characters and do things right? Well, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why:
Not a rush
First off, Fire Emblem has multiple routes - four in total (three main, one “hidden” though not exactly) - which lets you experience the story in multiple points-of-view. This depends on which of the three classes of the Officer’s Academy in the Garreg Mach Monastery, run by the Church of Seiros, you end up picking at the start. You’ll choose from:
Black Eagles. Headed by Edelgard von Hresvelg, the princess and heir apparent of the Adrestian Empire, the strongest power in Fodlan (continent where the game is set).
Blue Lions. Headed by Dmitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Faerghus, north of Fodlan.
Golden Deer. Headed by Claude von Riegan, the future leader of the Leicester Alliance, an alliance of nobles that govern the eastern part of Fodlan.
Experiencing the story of each house - and their routes - take more than 50 hours, at least 40 if you’re trying to rush. And no, it’s not a struggle nor a slogging match, as the provides fresh challenges and many ways to keep you entertained, ranging from the well-voiced scenes, deep combat, and outstanding animations.
Apart from the battles, you’ll spend a lot of time talking and watching support conversations. In short, these are basically scenes wherein you watch characters interact with one another, a staple in the Fire Emblem franchise. You’ll be able to unlock these when characters fight together in battle or they do activities together in the monastery.
Well-written side characters
Most Fire Emblem: Three House’s follow typical JRPG and anime tropes, like Bernadetta who’s scared of almost everything, Ingrid, who instinctively ends up lecturing everyone, and Caspar who acts like a typical shonen anime protagonist. However, they’re not one-dimensional in any way and have extremely compelling motivations and backstories.
Let’s waddle into the shallow part spoiler-territory for a moment and take a look at some examples.
Hilda Goneril, the second-most important character in the Golden Deer house is extremely lazy and finds numerous ways to delegate work to other people. However, she’s extremely capable and only avoids due to her fear of disappointing other people which stems from her older brother’s experiences.
Sylvain Gautier is one of Prince Dmitri’s closest friends and is, from the prince’s words, “a bit of a skirt-chaser”, which is an understatement. He somehow ends up flirting with almost every girl he sees. However, he has an extremely progressive and noble way of seeing the world.
Dorothea Arnault is a beautiful songstress from the Adrestian Empire. Underneath the pretty face and angelic voice though, she’s extremely insecure and rather desperate to find love.
The differences and personalities of every character make for interesting support conversations. One of the best examples is that of Annette Dominic and Felix Fraldarius. The latter is cold and distant, almost to the point of being hostile, to everyone, even his closest friends. When talking to the bubbly and extremely sweet Annette however, we see an all-new side to him which is extremely surprising.
Fire Emblem: Three House’s story is great, but it’s not something that would win a literary award. Its gameplay, albeit deep and a treat for many tactical strategy fans, isn’t for everyone. Without the deep and compelling stories and conversations of the side characters, it wouldn’t have reached cult-classic levels of popularity within a couple of months.
Players are attached to these side characters not only because of the support conversations but also due to the fact that since you’re playing as their professor, you’re in charge of helping and making them grow. In the inevitability that you face them in battle, you’ll find it hard to raise your blade against them.
The importance of voice acting
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a fully-voiced game, though the protagonist rarely speaks. Even unnamed NPCs are voiced. The outstanding localization paired with flawless performances by the game’s many voice actors makes the side characters extremely likable and relatable. The game makes it feel as if you’re actually talking and getting to know them on a personal note. Moreover, it makes them feel like real people, not just programs and computer code.
All of the scenes are well-acted and the voices themselves complement every character. Flayn’s voice actress makes her sound innocent and old-fashioned, befitting her personality. Meanwhile, Ferdinand’s actor gives off a vibe of arrogance and sophistication and Ingrid’s actress complements her sharp attitude and straightforwardness.
The game has thousands of lines of unique dialogue and it’s easy to just plaster the text in without even voicing them. If they did this, the game wouldn’t be as immersive and quite frankly, it would be a chore to read every line. In a way, we could safely say that the voice acting is one of the main reasons why the game exceeds expectations. Undoubtedly, it’s one of those games you should definitely get to experience.