If you have been reading this site for very long, you will notice that I tend to really enjoy tactical turn-based RPGs. This is because not only do they tend to be highly accessible, but they offer a depth of gameplay that gives not only high levels of enjoyment, but also massive replayability that justifies the investment for any gamer who may be on a limited income.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the first game in the storied franchise to be released on the Nintendo Switch and fans will be happy to realize that for most physically impaired gamers, the newest member of the Fire Emblem family is just as accessible as its predecessors.
The only real issue comes in the area of visual accessibility. It’s true that nothing in my playthrough so far seems to rely on the ability to see color, and most of the games interface elements are large enough, especially if you’re playing with the switch hooked up to a TV. However, there is one glaring weakness, the text of the spoken dialogue, which appears in scrolling parchment style text boxes is much too small. In fact, when going through the games dialogue, it seems like most of the text box is left empty. This is especially puzzling when compared with how much more readable the text is in earlier Fire Emblem games released on previous systems such as the 3DS. However, this barrier can be greatly mitigated by hooking the system up to a large enough screen, and will often be avoided completely if you play with the sound on, since all of the games dialogue seems to be voiced. However, it’s still unfortunate to see a very unnecessary blemish on what would otherwise be a perfectly accessible game.
From a fine-motor standpoint, Fire Emblem features the same highly forgiving turn-based combat that it always has. Meanwhile, nothing in the game’s expansive real-time overworld seems to rely on twitch-timing. There is a fishing minigame that does playout like your standard QTE, but in my experience, this was about as forgiving as the fishing found in the Pokemon franchise, and therefore does not pose a barrier, even though it will require multiple button presses to catch a fish.
As previously stated, the barrier with the games dialogue subtitles is unfortunate, and is so impactful that it doesn’t simply lower that games accessibility for the visually impaired, but it also may limit the games accessibility for the auditorily impaired as well.
On the whole, Fire Emblem: Three Houses will probably be accessible for most physically impaired gamers; however, it is unfortunate to see it continue the trend of many turn based RPGs of adding unnecessary barriers to what have historically been perfectly accessible franchises.