There is certainly no shortage of games based on popular animes and Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is another new addition to this category. While Fate series has seen multiple games throughout its life, this is the first time the developers have made an action game based on the Fate franchise.
If you haven’t played any of the past Fate games, mainly Fate/Extra series, then you might have a hard time grasping some of the story elements since they rely heavily on the events presented in Fate/Extra, originally released for the PlayStation Portable. The story is a direct continuation from Fate/Extra. However, even if you haven’t played these games, you could still enjoy the combat and the story for the most part.
At its core, Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is essentially an action game inspired by the mechanics presented in Dynasty Warriors. It requires the player to clear a selection of zones from enemies. The action aspects are well done and the ability to switch character in the middle of the battle makes for some fun encounters. When I originally played the game, I was surprised to see its similarity to Dynasty Warriors, however this isn’t really a negative thing here since Dynasty Warriors is a pretty fun series. The same applies for Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star.
The combat in the game works well allowing us to chain combos with a barge of quick or heavy attacks. Majority of the moves are crowd clearing ones making for some fun combat. However, the game has a tendency to get repetitive after a while which might be an issue for those who want to enjoy a deep battle system. Still, the game manages to spice things up by introducing new enemies and boss battles or providing side-missions that help in doing some of the missions in an efficient way.
The combat works with the use of a quick and heavy attack, however it unfortunately fails in offering any variety for the combos resulting in the same combo being repeated for the umpteenth time. There is also a special move called “Extella manoeuvre” that allows the the player to go on a combo frenzy, however the way it is executed is through simple button presses, which makes it far less exciting to use in the middle of battle. It helps in quickly clearing a huge swarm of enemies but mashing the ‘O’ button.
What the game does succeed in delivering is a fun story premise and characters that are gradually introduced along with the progression with the story. However, it can still be a bit confusing to piece together important story elements considering how the game requires the player to have played through the past Fate games. It is clear that this was designed for the fans of the Fate series as it uses a lot of technical words that won’t make sense for the newcomers, making it hard for them to understand the story. However, the localization efforts here are admirable and the interaction between the main characters make for some playful banter.
There is also a relationship system that has level up mechanics integrated with it. We play the role of the ‘master’ with the ability to summon ‘servants’ in the battle. These ‘servants’ can form bonds with the player and improving these bonds also allows the player to utilize new skills and abilities for them. Bonds can also be improved through talking with the ‘servants’ and the game often prompts us with multi choice answers which can have an impact on the friendship between the characters.
In term of the visuals and the frame rate, the PS4 version shines with some nice screen space reflections and clean image quality while also retaining an impressive solid frame rate. The Vita, as expected, does downgrade in visuals but it is still a serviceable port for the most part. If there was a choice to pick the game between both of these versions, those who prefer playing the game on the go can pick up the Vita version.
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is a fun game to pick up for fans of the series. However, it can be a confusing mess for those who pick this up as their first game. Aside from the repetitive combat, the game has some interesting mechanics including the bonds system that can be a fun distraction.
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star Review (PS4/PSV)
Game Reviewed on: PS4/PS Vita
Game description: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is an action video game developed by Marvelous for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is a confusing game for newcomers but should be a fun experience for the fans of the series.