I really liked Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I mean, we all did here, it was our 2019 game of the year at Noisy Pixel. So it’s no surprise that I’d be excited about this fourth wave of DLC.
Unlike prior waves, which added a few bells and whistles like costumes and characters, this entry introduces a whole new story section titled Cindered Shadows. With new recruitable characters, plotlines, maps, and music, this DLC did not disappoint.
Cindered Shadows is a separate scenario to the main game of Three Houses. Taking place sometime during part 1 as Byleth and a collection of students discover the “Abyss”, a secret refuge where people who can no longer live on the surface and live in peace underground. It’s kind of like a do-over place where you can have a separate life.
However, the Abyss is under threat from mercenaries who wish to discover its secrets by any means possible. To stop them, are the Ashen Wolves, a collection of four young adults who make up an unofficial “fourth house”, but when the forces from the outside increase, it’s up to Byleth and their crew to give the Wolves a helping hand.
It’s a far more linear path this time around, with a bunch of factors that make this side story feel like an old school Fire Emblem title. Your units all have a couple of preset class and skill options and their prevalence “-breaker” skills, owned by both enemies and allies, which simulates the classic weapon triangle.
Additionally, you won’t have access to other ways to make money between maps, so you will have a limited amount of money to buy items and weapons. The amount of maps caps out at less than ,ten but there is a severe amount of mission objectives and challenges to be found here.
If you’re more of a casual player, the normal isn’t too difficult to through, but if you want the old school Fire Emblem challenge of spending ages poring over maps planning your next moves, you’re in luck. Hard mode can be absolutely brutal.
Between maps, you’ll be able to explore Abyss to your heart’s content and talk to the Ashen Wolves as well as your other students. It makes for cute moments that give characters like Lindhardt and Ashe more moments to shine. Considering the only other time Ashe gets the spotlight is during a traumatizing moment in chapter 3, the kid needs it.
It’s also lovely to see the house leaders interacting with each other and working together, something that was oddly lacking in the main game. Those who came looking for the character interactions may be disappointed to find out the side story contains no supports. Still, the story is well-paced and adds some extra tasty lore tidbits full of exceptional set pieces and scenarios.
While the side story itself doesn’t contain any supports, you’ll be able to bring the Wolves over to your house and recruit them into your main game once you complete the DLC. Then you’ll see they’ve got a full set of support conversations to flesh them out further, and they seem to have been carefully created to gel with the existing members as if they’ve been here all along. The Wolves have their own unique classes that you’ll be able to reclass existing characters into.
Crimson Shadows is the extra add on to Fire Emblem: Three Houses I didn’t know I needed. It’s a perfect blend of additional tasty gameplay (with some challenges for those who want it), a fun story, and great characters. To top it all off, it gives you some tools to replay the original game in a new way. What’s not to love? Hold on… replay? I’ve already sunk 200 hours into the base game, do we really have to go through it agaaaaaaaaaaain? *Nintendo switch noises*
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