No, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is not a traditional JRPG (like Dragon Quest is). The campaign is a series of grid-based battles, making it an SRPG — a Strategy RPG. The story and levelling of Fire Emblem are similar to a JRPG, however.
There isn’t one firm definition of JRPG. To some, SRPG is a subgenre, and to others, it is an adjacent genre.
However, it is evident that the SRPG is structurally dissimilar to traditional JRPGs. In the latter, the story progresses by exploring environments (such as towns, dungeons, or a world map), leading to new areas. There are exploration sections in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but they aren’t the main driver of progress through the game.
Battles are also different and deeper in Fire Emblem. The emphasis is on unit positioning, terrain advantage, and the permanent death of character units during gameplay (something that would be very unusual in a JRPG).
|Final Fantasy VII
|Final Fantasy Tactics
|Persona 5 Tactica
|Breath of Fire
The Fire Emblem series has become more “JRPG-like” over time. For instance, it has introduced explorable headquarters environments. In Three Houses, that area is Garreg Mach Monastery. The social simulation aspects in this series also blur the lines between pure strategy game and JRPG.
Even if Fire Emblem: Three Houses doesn’t fall neatly into the genre, it will likely appeal to JRPG fans. It features a rich tapestry of character-driven storytelling: dialogues and character interactions unfold with the same depth and emotional resonance that one would expect from a JRPG. The tale of Fódlan — a land fraught with political intrigue, complex relationships, and a mysterious power known as Crests — is one worth seeing no matter what your regular genre preference is.