Review – Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is one of the few full-priced Switch games so far, a game originally released for PS4 and PS Vita in the beginning of 2017, based off a series of visual novels which started as erotic games for Windows, weirdly enough. Don’t you worry, as this is no erotic game featuring scantly clad anime girls who look like they’re 13 years old. This game is a bit more, let’s just say, “action-heavy”, and no, I’m not talking about that type of action. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is, at its core, a Dynasty Warriors clone. Therefore, you know what the game is about: a hack n’ slash title in which you slay literal thousands of weak enemies at a time, taking control over strongholds, and usually beating a boss at the end of the level. The game features the same old gameplay from all those Warriors titles, that is, mindless cathartic button mashing in which you can easily destroy a hundred enemies at a time without even looking at the screen, with the addition of unreliable and archaic camera controls. For some people, the sheer repetitiveness of this type of gameplay can be a complete downer. For other people, including myself, there’s something about killing a metric ton of dumb enemies in a row that makes it very entertaining. For a while. It does get boring after a bit, and that’s usually when the one or two exclusive features in each of those Warriors clones are used in order to bring the player back for more. In Fate/Extella‘s case, however, the exclusive features are very boring.
No, it’s not the okay-ish anime visuals. No, it’s the not the nonsensical J-pop soundtrack when hordes of evil robots are attacking you ruthlessly. Fate/Extella‘s main draw besides its mindless button mashing is a visual novel segment, just like previous Fate games. While I don’t hate this type of game (I had my fair share of sadistic fun playing the nonsensical mess that is Hatoful Boyfriend), I really disliked this segment in Fate/Extella due to the fact the story is nearly impossible to comprehend if you haven’t played previous games from the franchise. And, given the fact that this is the first game on a Nintendo console, and one of the few Fate games to be released in the West, that will affect the vast majority of people who play the game. I found myself skipping most cutscenes as I didn’t understand a single thing that was happening. Due to this, the game quickly proceeded to become boring. But you can take advantage of the Switch’s portability and play Fate/Extella in short bursts on-the-go, if that’s helpful.
While this is far from being a bad game, it’s really just an average Dynasty Warriors clone. I find it hard to recommend Fate/Extella unless you’re a fan of the series or a big anime fan in general. The same old cathartic hack n’ slash gameplay present in games like Hyrule Warriors is here, and it is fun at times, but the boring visual novel segments, coupled with the noob-unfriendly story, really drag the game down. For the time being, I’d say just wait until Fire Emblem Warriors comes out in a few months, and who knows, maybe Hyrule Warriors will get ported someday as well.
Reviewed on Switch.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is also available on PS4, PS Vita, and PC.