Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star Review

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Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a spin-off of the Fate/stay night series which actually started life as an eroge game (eroge games are visual novel games that have an erotic/pornographic theme). The game later spawned many iterations, from a manga to sequels to anime movies and a series. So you know this franchise has a fan base and in March of 2016 Marvelous had announced they were developing an action game based on the series, already 60% completed and written by the same writers as the anime it was definitely on fans’ radar.

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is set after Fate/Extra (a PSP game that was more of an RPG than Action game. Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is set in the digital world of SE.RA.PH and continues after the Holy Grail War had concluded, but the fighting isn’t over. Those who have now survived the Holy Grail War face a new foe who may destroy their entire world. The story is mostly told in text form with choices of dialogue that don’t seem to have any effect on the story other than increasing or decreasing Bond level with your “Servant” character.

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Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star gives you a choice right at the start of which gender you’d wish to play as and once that’s done you are shown a few choices of servants. Only one isn’t locked so it’s sadly not really a choice. You’re then dropped into a Dynasty Warriors type map as your servant and are shown the controls. The game is basically a Dynasty Warriors clone with a new spin on the victory condition. The way Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star does it is the map is split into different land masses, with the player being able to jump from one to the other. The goal is conquering each land mass by defeating the special, tougher units. Some variety is thrown in with things called “Planters” which pop out more of these tough units for you to kill, but they can also send some those same units to invade your conquered lands. Wait, there’s more! Once you have enough of these land masses you catch the attention of the Boss Servant who you now need to take out to put an end to that battle. Within these battles are also some side missions from other friendly characters with requests like scoring a 4000 hit combo or finishing off an enemy using a special move. Control-wise the game is almost an exact carbon copy of the Dynasty Warriors games with exception to the ability of transforming using your servants “Noble Phantasm” ability to put a quick end to the more relentless foes.

The game continues with the anime art style it’s known for in previous games with obviously higher quality character models and higher resolution textures. The game also has a very vibrant and eclectic colour palate, ranging from neon to dark and electric shades.  TYPE-MOON the original developers behind the visual novels provided the music so the audio will be very familiar to fans and holds the same original tone of the visual novels.

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There are a few issues with the game, mainly ranging with attracting and keeping the attention of a non fan of the series. With the series having so much success in the past with visual novels and manga and with various entries in the game series already it can be very intimidating for a new player to actually purchase and play without feeling lost. The game actually is totally playable without prior knowledge but I did not feel compelled to dive into the story with me losing much of my interest early one and tending to just skip all the text scenes and even the cut-scenes, since I wasn’t very invested in the narrative at that point. With this put aside another major problem that is an issue I also have with the Dynasty Warriors games, it gets boring really fast. The game is based around the hack and slash gameplay but the combat feels repetitive as I do the same combo over and over again to kill 4000 enemies per level and then end it with an overpowered boss that just absorbed all my combos like a sponge that requires another 5 minutes just to kill. It just feels like a chore after a few levels and to me that’s missing the point of being a video game which is to deliver fun.

With that all-in mind I totally can see the value and can see how someone can enjoy this. The Dynasty Warriors games are in their 9th generation now, with many many spin offs, there is a market for this game and people do love them. I would not recommend this game for a new comer to the series, but I would totally recommend it for someone who enjoys either the Fate series or Dynasty Warriors series.

Rating 7

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to press@4gn.co.uk.

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