FATE/EXTELLA: THE UMBRAL STAR
XSEED Games (North America)
PlayStation 4 & PlayStation Vita
November 10, 2016 (Japan)
January 17, 2017 (North America)
January 20, 2017 (Europe)
8 Servants out of 10
“A shooting star falls from the early dawn sky, a shining light streaming through the dark river of space…”
After the Moon’s Holy Grail War the Praetor and their Servant are rewarded with the Royal Regalia that holds the power over the Moon Cell and are tasked with protecting what is left of humanity and SE.RA.PH, the artificial world created within the Moon Cell. However, when a former ally shows up to oppose them they discover there is much more involved than simply defeating their foes, and a greater threat looms in the shadows…
Following on from the events of Fate/Extra and Fate/Extra CCC, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is the third game in the series from Marvelous and tells the story of the events after the Holy Grail War. With many recognisable characters from the Fate/Stay Night anime combined with an original story, this game appeals equally to new and existing fans.
An action game reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors series does include some similar mechanics, such as defeating Servants similar to DW’s Generals, but also has its own charming style to set it apart from similar games. At the beginning of the game the player can choose if they want to play a male or female character, and then are able to give their chosen character a full name. This is an unusual option as most games allow the player to only choose a single pseudonym, if they’re given an option to name their character at all.
The Praetor, which is the player’s character, awakens with no memories and gradually pieces things back together over the course of the game. This is achieved with the help of sixteen Servants; artificial intelligence beings brought to life by the Moon Core and combining a Body, Mind, and Soul to create a real living being, kind of like Pinocchio but without those pesky restrictions on lying. These aren’t your average computer programs, and in fact are as alive as the human Wizard whose Body, Mind, and Soul create the Praetor. The player takes control of three Servants over the course of the Main Story, each with their own unique personalities and play style, and their own unique and… intimate relationship with the Praetor.
In addition to the Main Story, there are numerous Side Stories that allow the player to control all sixteen Servants. These allow the player to increase their Bond Level with their Servants, in exchange for rewards, and are a fun distraction from the Main Story – or just when you can’t beat a level and prefer to do something that doesn’t make you want to throw the controller at the TV. There is also a Free Battle mode, where the player can select a Servant to play and a Servant to battle, so you can beat down on that one Servant who makes your skin crawl, and play a single level just for fun.
With a multitude of unlockables in the Gallery, three difficulty settings, and rankings for each level, there’s a lot of replay value for Fate/Extella, and plenty to keep completion-ist players occupied.
There’s no denying that a lot of work has gone into creating this game. Every Servant is fully voice acted in Japanese, both in cut-scenes and in battle. While this can make orders a little hard to follow at times, as trying to focus on the English translation dialogue box as well as fighting can be tricky, the most vital orders come through the in-built speaker in the controller, meaning it’s easy to know when you’re going to have to react quickly. The music and backgrounds are beautiful, and Fate/Extella opens with a stunning full motion anime video that really draws the player into this world.
It’s unfortunate that the character animations in-game do not quite meet the same high standard. Although the level of detail is decent, the animation itself is more reminiscent of earlier generation consoles and it’s disappointing that with the power available in the PS4 the character models have not been animated to a higher level. There is a two-dimensional anime rendering of the character on the dialogue box, with a handful of different expressions depending on what is being said, but the three-dimensional character model only stares on blankly and occasionally blinks for the most part, which brings to mind the vacant look a cat gives when they push a glass off the table. They do nod or make dramatic poses, but it’s not quite to the level that could be expected of a next-generation console. That being said, the developers went all-out with the battle animations, probably blowing most of their animation budget in the process.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a fun-filled, stunning game that is perfect for fans and newcomers alike. Casual players will love the varied difficulties and pick-up-and-play control system, while hardcore gamers can rest assured that between hard mode and tricky combo moves they’ll be left wanting more.