Review: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1/2)
  • Move None
  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
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Title: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (2.7 GB)
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: XSEED JKS
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Original MSRP: $49.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Fate/EXTELLA continues a story, many years after the Earth is set on fire from a comet and then attacked by a giant shadow creature. You’ve been awakened after a battle called the Holy Grail wars in a sort of virtual world called SE.RA.PH., which stands for Serial Phantasm.

Gameplay:
I found myself kind of lost when it came to the story. This is the sequel to a game, Fate/EXTRA, that came to North America on the PSP in 2011. Now you play as a Master, humans that enter the Moon Cell, from the previous game – at least from what I can tell.

You get kind of a brief history of what has happened in the game’s universe, which is that Earth has had some sort of apocalypse or Holy Grail War on the Moon, which granted humans a wish which they used to enter the Moon Cell, a sort of virtual reality.

I found it very confusing and still don’t quite understand what’s going on with the story. There’s an encyclopedia that explains some of the terminology, but it’s still sort of tough to understand.

This virtual reality is called SE.RA.PH. and there are three different main Servants, artificial hero fighters, that are vying for control of this new system that’s been created on the Moon. You can start out with the first main Servant, Nero, and unlock the other two main story arcs as you play though the game.

I think the most confusing part of the story is the whole Master/Servant role and the way the characters react to each other. For example, you play as the Master, but your supposed Servant acts more like the person in charge at times. Then it seems you are the person in charge at other times.

It turns out each of the main Servants have been given a special object, called a regalia, that allows you as the Master to fuse with your Servant. In this case Nero, the first story arc, where you become the Servant’s weapon. So when you go into battle, you’re playing as the Servant and in the in between portions of the game, you’re able to see the protagonist and interact with the characters through dialog.

In addition to the whole Master/Servant thing, it also seems like there’s sort of a love interest thing going on between yourself and the different main Servants throughout the game. When you’re not in battle you’re basically watching dialog between the characters, and it can get rather boring if you’re not very interested in the story, which was my case.

… The sections of the map can range from very small to very expansive …
The story is pretty interesting, but it didn’t quite get me interested enough to really have a desire to unlock all the possible arcs. Perhaps it’s because I have no connection to these characters, having not played the PSP game. The battle gameplay is most comparable to the Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors Musou-style with almost no divergence from the formula.

The Musou-style, for those of you who are unaware, is generally a third-person action game where you play as a single powerful character going up against hoards of very weak enemies. Some of these types of games allow you to switch lead characters or give directions to other NPCs on the battlefield, while in others you’re just kind of on your own.

Most Musou games I’ve played, Fate/EXTELLA included, have you playing one central player over a large battlefield that’s been split up into sections. The sections of the map can range from very small to very expansive, but the formula is the same – you go from one section to the next, battling waves upon waves of weak enemies until one or more mini-boss enemies show up. Once the mini-bosses are dispatched, you capture the section of the map, at least temporarily.

Some Musou games allow you to traverse the entire map at any time, while others trap you in a section until you’ve captured it. This one is the latter type. At the beginning of each battle, you’re placed in a starting area which may or may not already be captured. As you’re battling, other areas will come under attack. So the challenge is to try to quickly capture your area and hurry to the next area under attack.

… the gameplay is solid for its genre, but can become quite repetitive …
For me personally, this type of gameplay has become extremely repetitive and unless there have been significant additions to the formula, I tend to lose interest in Musou games pretty quickly. Unfortunately, this is the case with Fate/EXTELLA, since it doesn’t deviate very much from the standard.

The battle portions are divided into two main sections: one main story and then side stories. As you progress through the main story arcs, you’ll come across new Servants in both the battle and dialog portions of the game. At certain points, you’ll unlock the character’s side story mode. In each side story mode, you mainly play as the Servant to unlock parts of their story. You can also increase the level and buy items for these side characters.

Overall, the gameplay is solid for its genre, but can become quite repetitive. If you really want to upgrade your characters and their skills, you’ll have to be prepared to replay the same areas over and over again and commit quite a lot of hours to the game. While the combat styles are varied between the different characters, I really didn’t find much different or exciting between them.

Visuals:
The visuals have that slightly cel-shaded look to it. It’s mainly an anime-like style that has a two-dimensional overlay over the 3D models during the dialog. In the battle mode, it’s mostly all 3D characters with a cel-shaded look.

The graphics aren’t really outstanding or anything, but don’t look bad at all. The game runs very well and I don’t recall having any graphical glitches or slowdowns.

… it might be tough for newcomers to get into or understand what’s going on …
Audio:
The soundtrack features a kind of electronica/techno style to it, and it’s pretty good. I wouldn’t say it’s very memorable or outstanding, but it doesn’t seem too repetitive, so that’s a plus. The dialog is all in Japanese with no choice for English, but it does have English subtitles.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Fate/EXTELLA is a pretty good Musou game but it tends to be a bit repetitive and tedious to unlock all of the characters and their abilities. As a whole, it’s a solid game with a unique story, but it might be tough for newcomers to get into or understand what’s going on.

I would probably recommend this for someone who loves this type of game and/or has experience with the series. There’s quite a lot of content if you’re patient enough to replay levels and unlock the various abilities/skills. The combat doesn’t seem to be very innovative, but if you’re looking for a no-frills Musou game, then Fate/EXTELLA will fit right into that niche.

Score:
6.0

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* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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