Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a turn-based role-playing game that can be played on the Nintendo Switch. In it, you play as a new professor, Byleth, and are tasked with choosing one of the three houses (hence the name) to teach for the remainder of the story. In total, there are four thoroughly fleshed-out storylines that you are able to follow. During these storylines, the player character "instructs" the students in order to level them up, leads the students into battle, and builds relationships with the various characters in the game. For certain students, you are able to level up the relationships to "S" level, at which point they become an option for the player character to propose to at the very end of the game. Throughout the gameplay, you are also able to build your students' relationships with each other.
Now for spoilers! Each storyline that you can follow revolves around the main house leader's ambitions. The Golden Deer storyline (my personal favorite) follows Claude’s fight to bring equality to the common people in a region ruled by nobles and the church. The Blue Lion storyline follows Dimitri’s plot to get revenge on his childhood friend. The Black Eagle storyline follows Edelgard’s fight to bring down the church. In this story, you get to a point where you can either side with Edelgard or side with Archbishop Rhea and the church, adding an extra “bonus” playthrough.
During these playthroughs, time passes, and you must manage your time from day to day. You can choose to teach your students, level them up, bring them out into the field for some practice fights, or have the player character wander around the monastery and interact with students and other teachers. At the end of each month, there is a more plot-driven battle that you hope your training has prepared you for. Around the midpoint in the game, there will be a time-skip of five years and when the player character returns, you will get to see those in your class at this new point in their life, with the nation broken apart and in disarray. How this plays out depends entirely on which storyline you are following.
What I Liked:
Byleth, more like Bi-leth, amirite??
It is a step in the right direction! The female-female romantic relationships are a bit better than the male-male relationships. For the characters who can be in a romantic relationship with male or female Byleth, the dialogue is nearly the same. It is not altered to be less romantic either way. Also, if you level up some of the same-sex characters' relationships they will form romantic relationships (i.e. Shamir and Catherine). In general, all of the relationships and storylines between the characters, romantic or not, are incredible and well written. It is a joy to play and you really can't go wrong with any of the houses/storylines. The voice acting is top tier and the characters are all so unique and have incredibly in-depth backgrounds. Each storyline can be approximately 40 hours of gameplay, so you are getting well over 100 hours worth if you do all four.
During my playthroughs, I explored both F/M and F/F supports and it did not disappoint. For my Golden Deer playthrough, I pursued the S support (romantic outcome) with Claude, the house leader. His character is very endearing and a fan favorite. While he definitely radiates bi energy, his character's romantic arc is only available to the female player character (more on that below). For the Blue Lion playthrough, I pursued the S support with the character Felix, an angsty, hell-bent sword master who definitely has a better support storyline with Sylvain, another Blue Lions member, than Byleth. I leveled up both Mercedes (F/F) and Felix (F/M) during the whole playthrough but ultimately ended up choosing Felix’s S support because I felt like I had worked harder for it in the end.
Lastly, for the Black Eagle playthrough, I chose house leader Edelgard as my S support. She has one of the strongest and most compelling storylines in the game. Her character development throughout the whole game is comprehensive and, since the player character must choose between Edelgard or the Church during this playthrough, her S support feels even more organic.
I have played this game three times and I have not been disappointed in which supports I have chosen and the way it takes the story. There are characters and relationship choices that most people would enjoy.
What I Didn't Like:
First and foremost, like most other games, the players never say “bisexual” and nobody identifies one way or the other. Like many RPGs, you identify yourself as a male or a female at the beginning. For the most part, this only physically affects your hair length and outfit for the duration of the game.
Unfortunately, it also largely affects the extent of the relationships you are able to have with various characters. As a female professor, the player character can propose to all male characters and five female characters. As a male character, you are able to propose to all female characters and four male characters.
In addition to the limitation on male-male romantic options, half of the potential M/M options are middle-aged characters, Alois and Gilbert, who have established wives and families. Also, one of the options, Jeritza, would rather duel with you than marry you (whether you are male or female Byleth). None of the romantic choices are exclusively gay (i.e. a female option that is exclusively an option for female Byleth or male romantic options that are exclusively an option for male Byleth).
While it is refreshing to have same-sex romantic options in an RPG, the very limited options give the game something to be desired. I am excited about what this means for future games, but I do not think that this means we, as a bisexual gaming community, need to settle for just what we can get. Overall, I give Three Houses…*drumroll*…