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Fire Emblem: Three Hopes Review (Nintendo Switch) – The Ashen Demon Returns

It is quite hard to believe that Fire Emblem: Three Houses released almost three years ago in 2019.

The most recent entry into the Fire Emblem franchise was a breath of fresh air and effectively brought Fire Emblem to a new audience as it went on to become the single best selling game in the series worldwide.

Now Koei Tecmo and Nintendo have teamed up to create a spin-off title with familiar characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Koei Tecmo previously worked on Fire Emblem: Warriors way back in 2017 and Fire Emblem: Three Hopes serves as a successor to it in this regard.

Both games share the similarity in that they are “Musou” titles or button-bashing hack and slashers.

Three Hopes

Players in Fire Emblem: Three Hopes will take on the role of either a male or female character named “Shez” in an alternate version of the Fire Emblem: Three Houses timeline.

You can rename your character if you want to but we stuck with the default name assigned to us. Shez is a “Sellsword” or a mercenary for hire. The game begins with Shez and their mercenary company being attacked by “The Ashen Demon” Byleth and her forces.

Byleth who was the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Three Houses serves as the antagonist in this game’s world.

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Shez’s company is mercilessly destroyed by Byleth and Shez herself ends up in an intense battle with her.

Just when Byleth is about to unleash the final blow, a mysterious white haired young man intervenes and awakens a power within Shez. This burst of power enables her to fight off Byleth and survive the attack.

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The mysterious man is known as Arval and players familiar with Fire Emblem: Three Houses can think of him as Fire Emblem: Three Hope’s version of Sothis, an omnipotent being with fates to decide.

Fire Emblem Three Hopes Screenshot

Three Houses

After surviving the attack, the game fast forwards a bit to Shez encountering the leaders of the titular Three Houses. Dmitri, Edelgard and Claude come across Shez in a forest and are attacked by a large group of bandits.

Shez helps the three leaders to fight off the bandits and gets invited back to their camp.

This is where the game truly begins to open up and players will soon find themselves aligning with one of the Three Houses and their associated characters while they seek their vengeance upon Byleth.

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The story of Fire Emblem: Three Hopes incorporates plenty of fully voiced visual novel style conversations with snippets of fully animated in-game action. There’s a lot of downtime too where players can walk around and converse with characters to learn more about the game’s world and its inhabitants.

Much like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Fire Emblem: Three Hopes features a hefty amount of side story content where you can effectively bond with your favourite characters over meals and conversations. Building support this way leads to better effects in actual battles.

It was great in the original Fire Emblem: Three Houses and it’s great here too even if it falls into standard JRPG tropes at times. Koei Tecmo and Nintendo have clearly understood that fans loved the characters of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and wanted more of them.

Fire Emblem: Three Hopes certainly delivers on this even though it’s set in an alternate timeline to the main series title from 2019.

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Moving on to the actual battles of Fire Emblem: Three Hopes. This is where the game differs vastly from other Fire Emblem titles. Instead of issuing orders and acting on a chessboard-like environment in turn-based manner, players will be able to actively attack hordes of enemy forces themselves.

You’ll have access to a range of attacks which vary between different classes as well as an all-powerful “Awakening” mode which can be triggered. Button bashing your way to victory is ridiculously fun and so too is stringing together flashy combos.

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Hack and Slash

Koei Tecmo’s “Musou” titles all follow a specific formula of running through large open areas fighting hordes of enemies and defeating their commanders to progress.

The same thing happens here and while it is formulaic, the additional Fire Emblem flavour which comes in the form of tactics and the levelling up system enhances the overall experience.

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Players will have to take into account weapon effectiveness against specific types of foes as well as issue orders to their other units via the in-game map. Additionally, should you choose to play the game on a harder difficulty, you can opt to have permanent death enabled in the game.

This means you can lose characters in battle and this changes up the entire dynamic completely since you’ll have to actually consider your strategy when engaging tougher foes. Rushing into battles with the wrong characters could cost them their lives and it truly feels terrible to lose a character that you’ve grown attached to throughout the game.

If you’re opposed to playing with such high stakes enabled, opt for the easier difficulty setting and enjoy the game with less weight on your shoulders.

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Fire Emblem: Three Hopes battles can often be extremely chaotic due to the sheer number of enemies on screen at a time. Thankfully the game features a lock-on system so targeting a tougher captain or boss enemy is easier to manage amidst all the chaos.

Players can also swap between different playable characters on the fly in battle and this is great in action since you can unleash a strong attack with one character and then immediately swap over to another to continue your onslaught.

The game runs remarkably well too despite the fact that there’s so much going on in battles. In the time we spent with the game, there wasn’t any notable slowdown in handheld mode using an OLED Nintendo Switch.

Graphically, Fire Emblem: Three Hopes looks a bit rough around the edges in some spots and it certainly could have used a bit more visual flair in the environments but the actual battle effects themselves are a visual feast for the eyes. It never gets old seeing groups of enemies being slashed to oblivion or getting blown away by massive explosions and more.

It’s just so ridiculously fun and honestly perfect for short bursts of gameplay on the go thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s portability factor.

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The soundtrack of Fire Emblem: Three Hopes is still just as great as its predecessor’s with the orchestral themes and iconic Fire Emblem sound effects being implemented well here.

The voice acting in both English and Japanese is also extremely well done being performed by well-known voice actors that have featured in numerous video games over the years. It’s also great that most of the major story sections are fully voiced.

Final Verdict

Fire Emblem: Three Hope’s is more Fire Emblem: Three Houses albeit in a different form. An arguably more accessible, button bashing form that is.

If you aren’t a fan of turn-based games, Fire Emblem: Three Hope’s hack and slashing gameplay might interest you more than the main series title from 2019. Newcomers can also just as easily dive right into this title since it’s set in an alternate timeline and every recurring character is introduced to you in the story anyway.

Overall, if you’re looking for a fun, hack and slash title with plenty of story content to keep you busy in-between action packed battle sequences, Fire Emblem: Three Hopes will appeal to you.


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