The Game That Ruined JRPGS for Me: Fire Emblem 3 Houses
They may have some of the best soundtracks, they may have the best romance options, they may even be your favorite genre, but dear friends and readers, JRPGs ain’t for me. This article is the first of a series I’m calling “Games That Broke Us”, all about the times someone was seeking recreation and found only misery. I love a turn based strategy game, so when I saw previews for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I was stoked. But alas, if only I knew that this game would break me, mind, body, and soul.
FE: 3H has a classic JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) premise: you, the chosen one, are tasked with training a bunch of students to become great at fighting. You can choose from one of three houses in the school/monastery where much of the game takes place. These students will become your friends and potentially, when they’ve grown up, your lover. Creepy power dynamics and questions about grooming aside, that premise seemed like a good time. But I made a fatal error right from the start. I chose permadeath. I wanted a high stakes challenge. This was before I realized games should just be played on easy mode, and woe to my past self.
The tiny anime young adults I would come to cherish and be forced to endure dozens of hours of cutscenes with were doomed. Each tactical battle became a painstakingly repetitive chore. I was so precious with my wards/amigos that I would only choose the most conservative tactics in battle. And if one of them happened to fall in battle? I immediately re-loaded the previous save. It made for a gruelingly long game. But the thing that made me age faster than Matt Damon in that one part of Saving Private Ryan was the dialogue.
There’s SO MUCH talking. After listening to each line of dialogue I would think “surely, this is the end of the scene.” But nay, there was always more. Even conversations with my bratty, busty, opera singer of a wife became something I dreaded. This is standard JRPG stuff. And many of my friends absolutely loved the game. But by game’s end, the deluge of chatter paired with tedious fetch quests and snail’s crawl battles had slowly worn away at my enjoyment and dare I say, my sanity.