The Fire Emblem: Three Houses Expansion Pass has been available for purchase since the launch of the game itself. It contains many bonuses such as new auxiliary battles and character skins. I will be focusing on Wave 4, the Cindered Shadows side story. I’ve designed this review for those on the fence of purchasing this piece of DLC. It is unavailable outside of the Expansion Pass, but that’s not too big of a bummer. You can read my thoughts on the base game here. I’m not going to expound on the basics of Fire Emblem too much here.
Deep under Garreg Mach Monastery lies a dark cavern known as Abyss. Abyss is a refuge for all those who are hunted, scorned, or otherwise fleeing. The most common type of person found there is one expelled from the Officers Academy. Abyss is protected by the official fourth house of Garreg Mach, the Ashen Wolves. While without a proper teacher, they make amazing strategists themselves. The Ashen Wolves are the descendants of the Four Apostles of Seiros. Chasing after a simple thief, Byleth, Edelgard, Dimitri, Claude, Lindhardt, Ashe, and Hilda find themselves uncovering Abyss. Soon they find themselves in a much deeper plot.
The Ashen Wolves are made up of Yuri, a sword user, and expelled member of the Officer’s Academy. Balthus, the Ashen Wolves’ grappler, and close friend of the Goneril house. Hapi, reserved horse-back mage, and “conscious” of the group. Followed lastly by Constance von Nuvelle, an egotistical self-taught mage, her only goal is to restore the status of nobility to house Nuvelle. All in all, a pretty interesting group of characters. They’re not the most unique, but not as one-sided as I’m letting on here either.
The game makes something very clear off the start. Resources are extremely limited in this side story. It is selected outside of the main game, so your decisions in the main story don’t affect your abilities to take action here. I like it much better that way. In between battles you’re given a decent chunk of Abyss to explore. You’re not given the opportunity to return too many times, but it’s a bigger area than I expected. I’d call it maybe a quarter of Garreg Mach. The only actions you can take are talking to your party, Abyssians, and shopping.
Every battle there are a good three or four enemies holding bullions. Commonly large bullions of gold too. You do have to actively go out of your way to get money, and you will be limited on weapons strength, but I never found myself running out of money. Though, that may just be because of my reliance on Lindhardt. A bad habit I picked up during my Crimson Flower run.
Cindered Shadows is short, extremely short, but tightly compact. For comparison, my base game run took me just under 40 hours. My run of Cindered Shadows took me just under 7 hours. Which averages to one hour per chapter. This isn’t the base game. Each chapter is really only a moment to explore Abyss and the battle. With story sprinkled in between, of course. I don’t feel too discontent with the length, but I would’ve much preferred the 10-hour campaign I was expecting to sign up for.
For the $25 price tag, it would take a lot for me to feel satisfied with the content. The Expansion Pass pulls it off. If all you’re interested in is the Cindered Shadows side-story, the pass is an extremely tough sell. Most of the value I’m getting here is using the Abyssians, and extra content, in the main game. I absolutely don’t regret picking up the Pass. If you’ve 100% Three Houses and are itching for more, I can’t recommend this enough. Something tells me that’s not the type of person who’s going to be on the fence. The type of person I’m writing this review for. I loved Cindered Shadows, if you’re interested, I can’t recommend picking it up enough. Just don’t be expecting another route even like Crimson Flower.