Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (PC)

Platform PC, PSVita, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch
Developer Marvelous
Publisher Marvelous, XSEED Games
Release Date 25/07/2017
Code Provided by Decibel PR

Fate/Extella is the latest release in the Fate series, following on from the story laid down in Fate/Extra but offering a new way to sample that world. Already seeing a release on PSVita & PlayStation 4, also on Nintendo switch just last week, the game has made its way to PC courtesy of Marvelous & XSEED Games. Are the heroes of the Holy Grail War able to survive the latest test? Lets find out..

The game follows on from the events of the Holy Grail War in the previous game Fate/Extra. Nero and her master have won the war and gained control over the Moon Cell Automaton computer, which has the power to grant a wish. A Regalia ring is bestowed upon Nero, with acts as a token of kingship over the rapidly expanding world. It doesn’t take long for them to be confronted by a new foe, who also holds a Regalia and claims lordship over the lands – which leads to a civil war. Just as things look to have settled at the culmination of the war, things take an even worse turn for the worse. Altera arrives bearing another Regalia ring, and the very existence of the Moon Cell is placed in a state of peril

One good aspect of the games story is that previous knowledge of the series isn’t really required. The game does follow on from the previous Fate/Extra, but with your character suffering amnesia due to the situation that arisen at the start of the game, previous exploits are explained and you get knowledge of the lore as you go. There are a few stories to play through as well, though only Saber is available to start with and the other two are locked, with side stories for your servants also unlockable as you progress in the game. These are usually unlocked by increasing your bond, so completing side missions during battles becomes necessary if you want to sample all the game has to offer. There’s certainly plenty of story here that does a good job of keeping you engaged.

If you’ve played Fate/Extra you’ll be pleased to know this sequel carries over the same style, only now at a higher fidelity. The world and characters pack a decent amount of detail, with added effects such as reflections adding depth to the world around you. Things can look impressive during the games battles, as the screen is packed with enemies and a swipe of your weapon seems to unleash all manner of special effects. With the game also being developed for PSVita, it’s not a game changer for visuals, but it does still look good and isn’t phased much if you decide to go 4K. Audio keeps up the pace too. Full voice acting is available throughout the game, minus your character of course, with the music doing a good enough job of providing a solid soundscape during battle.

To be honest this is the first niche release I’ve sampled on PC that actually makes my system sweat (R5 1600/16GB/Fury Nano) when running at 4K, there’s even the odd drop down from a locked 60 fps. In its current beta form I haven’t tried on my laptop as I usually do due to the resource hogging here at even 1080p, but there are options to disable and drop should your hardware not be up to snuff. It’s likely that this is down to the Ps4 version forming a base for the port instead of the handheld release, but luckily the anime styling of the game means it doesn’t affect how things look too much if you do need to drop settings.

Fate/Extella is a hack & slash instead of an RPG like its predecessor, with gameplay more akin to something like Dynasty Warriors – that OP fecker Lu Bu even makes an appearance in this. Stages see you capturing territory until you have enough to entice the main boss out of hiding and make an appearance for a showdown. The territories are broken down into mini areas and your foe can also invade your areas which helps keep things more dynamic instead of just a sprint to the finish. When allies or territories fall, it can have a real impact on the armies morale at higher difficulties so you’ll be wanting to dash around. As you fight and level up your character will develop extra combo strikes, with skills also looted from defeated foes. These skills are passive and customised in the menu, more can be added & linked as you level up, with the masters apparel also upgradeable giving you extra abilities in battle.

Instead of having the depth of an action RPG, this title is a pure hack & slash. The main issue with the gameplay for that approach is the same as any musou type game, repetition. Gameplay doesn’t really change up all that much during a mission. Go here, defeat enemies. Go there, defeat enemies. The segregated aspect of the level design (likely done to help with the PSVita  version) also stifles things a little, Its difficult to keep your combat flowing if you have to zip off to another area and wait for the enemies to spawn in. Some attempt has been made to mix things up as you are able to customise abilities, but that only goes so far and doesn’t have as much of an effect as expected. Personally I enjoy the musou games, so the repetitive nature of the gameplay didn’t affect me too much (though I have still noted it) If you loved Fate Extra, but loathe musou games – this could require some thoughtful mulling over as to whether it will be worth your time.

Following on from Fate/Extra, Extella is sure to delight fans of the original as the story continues – even with a radically different gameplay style on offer. The usual trappings of the genre come into play with this title, and the segregated level design can hurt the combat flow overall, but there’s plenty to see and unlock if you can keep the repetition at bay.

  • 7/10
    Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (PC) - 7/10
7/10

Pros

  • Good story & plenty of extras to unlock
  • Nice anime styled graphics
  • Simple gameplay with customisable abilities
  • so many waifu

Cons

  • Not so light on resources
  • Level design iffy
  • Gameplay can be repetitive
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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.