Fate/Extella tosses you into a complicated sci-fi world coupled with fast-paced, large-scale battles.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, PC, Switch (reviewed)
MonsterVine was provided with a Switch code for review.
The Fate series has covered plenty of genres over the years, and Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is its take on a Musou-esque action game. Your attacks cut through basic enemies with ease, and you build up thousands of kills as you fight through the connected sectors of each battlefield with stylish attacks and powerful special moves.
Killing basic enemies summons more dangerous enemies called Aggressors, and once you defeat all the Aggressors in a given area, you take control of that sector. Enemy-controlled sectors can produce Plants, which allow your opponent to invade your sectors. Your AI allies will fight back, but it is rare for them to successfully defend an area. Therefore, helping your allies and destroying Plants is a priority.
Your goal is to take control of a certain number of sectors to complete the Regime Matrix before the enemy does, at which point the chapter’s boss will appear. At its best, this system is tense and exciting, as you race to stop Plants and enemy mini-bosses before they can invade. At its worst, it’s a repetitive slog that almost always comes down to the same pattern: kill generic enemies, destroy Plants, defeat Aggressors, capture sectors, and fight the boss.
Outside of battles, the game plays almost like a visual novel. It is very dialogue heavy, and the story can feel overwhelming at first. Fate/Extella is the sequel to Fate/Extra and its unlocalized companion game, and without prior knowledge from these games, the player is tossed into a universe full of science fiction terminology and reincarnated historical figures, with only a brief explanation of the premise.
Fortunately, the main story, which deals with a world-destroying threat from outer space, stands on its own. Once the initial confusion fades, it is actually quite interesting. It is told across multiple routes, each with a different Servant allied to the main character. Each of these routes also has a romance element, and dialogue choices allow you to improve your bond with your Servant, which in turn lets you equip more skills. Aside from an odd translation choice that leads to one Servant calling the main character “Husband” regardless of gender, the character interactions are generally well-written and entertaining.
The second route, unfortunately, feels almost extraneous. Without fondness for Tamamo no Mae from the previous games, her story feels too much like repetition of Nero’s route, while the third route is when the story truly breaks away from that formula. There are also side stories for the allied characters, which show you alternate versions of events and give you a chance to use different gameplay styles.
In general, Fate/Extella overcomes its flaws. It may seem complicated at first, but once you get into it, you’re in for a wild ride.
The Final Word
While Fate/Extella suffers from repetition and does little to ease new players into the universe, its fast-paced action and exciting story are ultimately worth it.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair