Although I don’t really have any affinity for Fire Emblem, that hasn’t put me off getting hooked by series spinoffs in the past – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and the first Fire Emblem Warriors are two of my favourite games, but the old strategy titles I could take or leave. Not because they’re bad, just because they’re not Advance Wars and permadeath (which I know can be turned off these days) is scary.
Three Hopes is a musou Warriors-style reimagining of the story from mainline Fire Emblem game Three Houses, which of course I didn’t play. The plot is presumably similar – you’re a mercenary and you join one of three originally-at-peace houses, all of whom have a future leader at the same school, run by the Church of Seiros. Then, they’re no longer at peace for reasons which don’t really make sense.
For my first run through the game, I chose to join Edelgard of the Adrestian Empire, and it turned out she was keen to “create peace across the whole of Fodlan”, mostly by declaring war on both the church and her former school chums because someone who worked at the church but wasn’t part of the church turned out to be possessed by evil? Or something? Seems a bit extreme.
Ultimately, this means loads of smacking millions of baddies with swords and axes and magic in the same way all the other Warriors games work. And this bit of the game is really good. Levelling up, improving skills and weapons, building up your base to unlock new skills, items and abilities – lots of higher-number-chasing, but it’s a great gameplay loop. However, between all that there’s so much chat. Oh god is there a lot.
Each of your “team” has a relationship indicator with not just you, but everyone else in your team. You can converse with them, do activities with small groups, training and fight together, and take them out on dates. In itself, that’s not a problem and it builds backstories and stuff, but there’s so much of it I’ve found myself spending sometimes upwards of an hour chatting and managing relationships between fights. It’s probably mostly skippable, but there’s a FOMO element to it that I daren’t.
The smacking though, is so wonderfully fast and mindless and satisfying, that these betweentimes events just kill the momentum a bit. And they’re a little bit creepy. Overall though, the game is great. And now I have two more runs with the other colours…