With Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, the popular visual novel series breaks from the mold with a hack-and-slash adventure that has players carving through legions of foes as they participate in an all-new battle after the events of the Holy Grail War. While it’s not a wholly original game and it gets pretty repetitive, fans of the series and brawler games will get a kick out of this one.
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star
Developed by Marvelous / Published by XSeed Games
Available on the PS4 and PS Vita. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by XSeed Games
In Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, players will be participating in a new war as a Master who must command his/her forces in order to defend from invading forces. Players wake up with no recollection of the past, and assisted by servant Nero Claudius, must enter the battlefield in order to win back territory from rivals and a mysterious, powerful entity, and hopefully regain their memory before it’s too late.
Fate/EXTELLA‘s plot is simple and straightforward, but it’s more oriented towards fans of the visual novel and anime series, as it doesn’t do a good job at explaining the background events or introducing the various players in the new war. The game assumes that you know who’s who most of the time, and so while fans of the series will dig the new takes on existing characters and the twists Fate/EXTELLA features, newcomers will have a somewhat difficult time understanding what’s going on. It’s an entertaining tale, but with a large cast of characters, unique terminology and a text-heavy plot, players are better coming in to this one with some prior knowledge of the series.
Gameplay in Fate/EXTELLA is very familiar however, playing like Koei Tecmo’s Warriors series but with a few twists thrown in for good measure. Players control one of many servants, and battle through a multi-sector battlefield, slaying thousands of enemies with normal attacks, special attacks and other powerful abilities capable of clearing multiple foes at once. The point is to control more territory than the opponent in order to summon an end boss, and to do so players must defeat enough enemies in a sector to summon aggressors – the area’s captains, and then defeat them to win the territory. In the meantime, the opponent is doing the same, sending minions around the map to contest player’s controlled areas and creating new aggressors with special aggressor plant creatures. The ongoing tug of war between players and their opponents for territory keeps the game from getting stale as players zip from area to area demolishing enemies and using flashy moves, but it does get a bit boring after hacking and slashing against the same enemy types countless of times.
Each playable servant has their own playstyle though, changing up the combat options as players bash hundreds of foes, and they can also be customized before battle by adding skills to improve their stats or add special buffs to their attacks like elemental damage, as well as equip mystic codes to add abilities in battle, like healing, buffs to defense, and more. There’s not a lot of customization here, but at least players can tweak things a bit before heading out to stages to improve their odds.
In addition to the main story mode, where players can play through the tale with three characters, the game also brings side stories to flesh out the plots of minor characters, and a free battle mode so players can jump in and fight in any unlocked stage at any time. There’s also an encyclopedia available, adding some background info for those looking to flesh out the story a bit.
When it comes down to it, Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is a fun but repetitive brawler that delivers on a plot that Fate fans will love, but not much else. While the combat is solid and the sector conquering gameplay keep it from getting stale, the lack of enemy variety and modes keep it from being as excellent as it should be. It’s a good game, but not great.