I've had a rough two months. I don't know when I teach again. I'm concerned about my family's safety. But I did get some rest from playing Fire Cone: Three houses, sometimes late into the night. I have a backlog of games to play, but I can't put it off Fire Cone down, in large part because I know better. The guarantee of victory is soothing at a time when everything else is cold.
Fire Cone: Three houses it was meant to be a long play. As a new professor at the Garreg Mach Monastery (think Hogwarts, but it is a little shy and contains a sword), he prefers to lead one of three student housing: the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer. Each house has a different student body (although you can find members in other houses later). Each house has a different story: The Black Eagles have “Crimson Flower,” the Blue Lions have “Azure Moon,” and Golden Deer has “Verdant Wind.” And there's a final, fourth way in which you declare your allegiance to the Church of Seiros (which is similar to the Ministry of Magic) called "Silver Snow."
In conversation with JeuxVideo Prior to the game's release, the game's director Toshiyuki Kasukihara said that each method would be in agreement take about 80 hours. Made with four, that's 320 hours of game. As a player and hit all four routes, Kasukihara was not exaggerating.
For the first round, I hit "Crimson Flower" at normal difficulty (50 hours). After that I hit the "Azure Moon" in great difficulty (80 hours). "Verdant Wind" in severe difficulty followed shortly after (80 hours). Each time I started a new way, I carried my accumulation progress into a new compilation game, which allowed me to roll my Renown (a currency to buy advanced skills) from pre-game savings.
By the end of "Verdant Wind," almost all the characters have been enabled, and I decided to start the fourth and final "Silver Snow" route in the greater difficulty, called Maddening. I had heard how impossible that would be, but I thought that the combined statistics from the previous three games would be enough to defeat you.
I could, but with great difficulty. I actually had to restart the "Silver Snow" route in between; so many of my actors die, which creates a win-win situation. It took me five nights in a row to win the final level of the path, and even in victory, five characters died in the attempt.
“Snow Snow” took me 100 hours to complete, including a reboot. When I finished the route the New York City Department of Education announced that my school was closing because of COVID-19 issues, and that I would be teaching my students for a whole year. My wife, who works for the NYC Department of Health, will also work remotely. My five-year-old son, enrolled in kindergarten, would study at home.
While there was some chaos, I went back to Fire Cone: Three houses. I started the new game five again, but instead of playing the Maddening difficulty, I turned things around to Normal. Combined with my accumulated Renown, it was a very different experience than my last made.