Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star Review

That’s no moon…

The Fate series has become one of the biggest sensations in Japan. Starting from it’s humble origins as a visual novel for the PC, the franchise has blown up to include a multitude of light novels, anime adaptations and video games. One of those video game adaptations is Fate/Extella, a story driven hack’n’slash romp in the vain of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. And while it’s a good time, it does have its caveats.

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Fate/Extella takes place in the far future after an asteroid flew past earth and caused a mass evolution of technology and loss of mana, eventually allowing man to venture to the moon and discover it is in fact a giant computer. The game takes place inside a virtual world set inside the moon called The Moon Cell where characters battle in the Holy Grail war using a system Serial Phantasm or SE.RA.PH and….

You know what. No. It’s just too absurd to accept. It’s refreshing to have a game take place in a detailed fictional world, but Fate/Extella is going too far with its suspension of disbelief and incoherent logic to be an accessible world.

Fate/Extella takes place in the Fate/Extra and Fate/CCC timelines. That may mean something to diehard fans, but say that to anyone who’s new to the franchise and prepare for a blank and slightly scared stare.

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In order to understand a fraction of what’s going on in the game, you’ll need to dedicate a hours to reading (and re-reading) the Wikipedia to catch up on all the madness that’s going on.

servant_nero_FIX.pngAnd even when you do, the in-game story doesn’t do a good job at maintaining any coherence. Characters and their motivations are wildly inconsistent and the writing “technique” of having characters refuse to share information to then have that later be a “twist” is an infuriatingly poor attempt at building suspense. All the Fate stories are guilty of this (look at Fate/Stay Night as a prime example) and seems to be a running rage enduing theme in the franchise.

Unless you’re a fan of the franchise and really want to know what happens with these characters, you’d be better off skipping past it to get to the actual meat of the game, the gameplay.

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Fate/Extella plays similarly to any other Dynasty Warriors game, where you play a one-man army who sets out to mow down thousands of foes on your conquest to become the ruler of the map. The game features all the usual musou mechanics, including super moves, ultimate moves and a powerful form you can transform into for a set amount of time.servant_tamamo_fix.png

The game does make one small change that may create a divide among some fans. Unlike in other games of a similar ilk where you would walk between areas that need capturing, instead the areas are floating islands that you warp to via gusts of wind in the environment. This takes a minute to adjust to, but it also makes perfect sense. Now, no matter who you attack, you’re always benefiting toward capturing an area. This makes no attack feel like it’s gone to waste.

What’s also different is the end goal. Usually in a musou game the goal is to just kill waves of enemies until the boss appears. But in Fate/Extella, you have to take over enough areas with a certain value to add up to 10, this will then unlock the boss area and allow you to challenge them one on one. This creates a small sense of strategy as enemies will fight to take back their areas and will do their best to halt you in your progress to unlock the boss door.

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This often comes in the form of enemy servants who appear and challenge you to a fight to the death. While many of these fights are simple affairs, there are the rare few times where a servant who is clearly wildly more powerful than you appears, and you are expected to run away. But staying and challenging these foes works greatly in your advantage. If you manage to beat them, not only are you granted the area they are protecting, but also a massive EXP bonus.

These fights are by far some of the most entertaining and engaging encounters in the game and help make overcoming the odds a rewarding experience.

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What Fate/Extella lacks in welcoming newcomers and coherent storytelling, it more than makes up for in brilliant gameplay that can leave you button mashing for days on end. With a huge cast of characters each with their own story, along with secret side missions to complete, Fate/Extella is a game to easily get lost in.

Fans of Dynasty Warriors, be sure to check this one out.

Rating 8

 

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Thanks to Marvelous Entertainment for supplying a review code 

About Milo 130 Articles
Video game and anime addict. Studying at the University of Gloucestershire. Also the creator of www.thegatewaygamer.com

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