(Disclaimer: The copy of the game reviewed was purchased by the reviewer. Game reviewed on Playstation Vita.)
If you’re any sort of anime fan, you’ve more than likely heard of the Fate series. Originally known for being a visual novel, the series has grown and become essentially a mini-empire, with numerous anime series and movies and a load of games. The most recent game in the series is Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, a Musou-style game that takes great features of many game genres and sticks them together in an interesting story and a fun gaming experience.
(GENERAL STORY SPOILER WARNING HERE)
The story of Fate/EXTELLA takes place after the Holy Grail War from the previous game, Fate Extra. You play as Hakuno Kishinami, Master to the Servant Nero. Every Servant in the Fate series is said to be the reincarnation of mighty heroes or historical figures, who fight for their Masters to obtain the Holy Grail. After the Holy Grail War, Kishinami was given a ring, called the Regalia, which signifies their (you can play as male or female) power over the Moon Cell Automaton, a device capable of granting any wish, no matter how seemingly outrageous. Kishinami and Nero find that there is another Regalia, and another Kishinami, with Tamamo no Mae as the new Kishinami’s Servant. To make matters even more confusing, after discovering the second Regalia, a third Regalia and a third Kishinami are found. The Servant Altera holds the Regalia and is holding her Master prisoner. Altera’s ultimate goal is to destroy everything that the Servants and their Master(s) hold dear. The game centers around the three-pronged conflict to save the Moon Cell from destruction and in turn, save the world.
(SPOILER ALERT OVER)
The controls and game play for Fate/EXTELLA are very similar to other recent Musou-based games, such as Hyrule Warriors. There are the basic/regular and hard attacks, which can feed into combos and different special attacks. There is a special move called an Extella Maneuver, which is charged through combat with enemies, or via item drops in the game, such as Sake. This special move deals a lot of damage and usually comes with a rather interesting flourish on top of it. There is also a way to go into a super powerful mode called Moon Drive, providing powerful buffs to both defense and attack, which is great in a pinch. Finally, for combat, the Noble Phantasms, a staple in the Fate series, are also available for use to deal devastating damage to your enemies.
The game is played in stages through each character arc. These stages involve taking over territory, known as sectors, and defending it, defeating enemy hordes and commanders in the process. Each sector is worth a certain amount of keys. Collect the right amount of keys to Regime Matrix and unlock the final boss of the stage, be it by having them join the battlefield, or transporting you to another area entirely to fight them. In each story arc, you play as one of the legendary Servants. In the first arc, you play as Nero, the Saber-class swordswoman with a fiery love for worthy combat and roses. Tamamo no Mae is the Servant used in the second arc, a Caster-class fighting with all the love in her heart to make a nice life for herself and her Master. In the third arc, you play as the enemy of Servants and humanity, Altera, and learn the reasoning behind her need to destroy everything in existence. There are also side stories that can be played that focus on lesser Servant characters, such as Sir Gawain and Jeanne D’Arc.
The version of this game I played for this review was on Vita, so while the graphics aren’t as great as they would be on the Playstation 4 or PC (as you can see from the screenshots), they were still great all things considered. Musou-style games on portable consoles seem to have some difficulty with keeping fluidity of the combat going (which is very well exemplified by Hyrule Warriors Legends on the 3DS), but Fate/EXTELLA did a great job at keeping the combat smooth with very few freezes, jitters, or glitches when spawning enemies. The game play itself, while somewhat repetitive, was fun because the story kept it interesting. For me, the game play was a means to advance the story and really understand what the Umbral Star is and how I save the world. While I may be being lenient on the repetitive game play present, it definitely isn’t the grind that the original Assassin’s Creed was, and the story really helped that a lot. The appearances of the different Servants made the story more interesting, and wiping out hordes of baddies with an overpowered Nero is always pretty fun, honestly. The audio quality of the game plays well into it, especially the voice acting. I played with game with the Japanese voice acting, and per usual, the Japanese VOs are stellar. Even Nero’s signature “umu” is present multiple times in the game, really making it feel as though you know the Servants you’re fighting with.
I genuinely enjoyed playing this game, and I’m not even entirely finished with it. While I have finished the main storyline, I have yet to really scratch the surface of the side stories for the other Servants. There is a lot of gameplay available for story addicts like myself, and there’s also a Free Battle mode to fight hordes of enemies and a Servant of your choosing, if you just want to get your hack n’ slash going. The characters themselves are written well and have their own dynamic personalities. The haughty confidence of a boisterous Nero plays well off of Tamamo no Mae, using flowery language and her sex appeal to drive her points home. The interactions between these two characters alone are entertaining, but adding the cold and seemingly stonehearted Altera into the mix makes the character dynamics even more interesting, especially when seeing how each of the main three Servants interact with other Servants who serve under them, or under an enemy Servant faction. The story of Altera and Kishinami alone is enough to pull on the heartstrings and maybe make you swear someone is chopping onions somewhere nearby. Also, for reasons that will be obvious when you play the game, those with a giantess fetish will find some good stuff in this game too.
I will be updating this review with an addendum in the future with my thoughts on the side stories. I have finished a few of them, but have many more to go. The fact that I have so much left to play really puts the “worth the money” factor into it for me. I’ve so far loved playing this game, and hope you will give it a shot.
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is out now for PC (Steam), Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Nintendo Switch.
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