(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.

Free Battle Selection Screen

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.

New, New, New: I Have A Lot To Do

Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is out now for PC (Steam), Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Nintendo Switch.

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Martyr
Lover of video games, met­al, and hard cider. Amateur video game mu­sic com­pos­er and YouTuber at Video Culture Replay. Armed with a de­gree in psy­chol­o­gy, she thinks she knows it all (and some­times ac­tu­al­ly gets it right). Also skilled with the oboe and wran­gling chil­dren.
Martyr

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