Once more, my game of the month is a Nintendo Switch title. The big release is Splatoon 2; and yes, I will be picking it up. However, that isn’t the game I will be focusing on here, because let’s face it: everyone else will pretty much be talking about it. Consider it an honourable mention – or perhaps I’ll shine the spotlight on it next month, I don’t know yet.
Let’s actually focus on the game I want to talk about. It’s a title that was previously released on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita and part of a franchise that was spawned from a visual novel.
I did even contemplate picking up the PS Vita version of this game at one point, but as you can see my plans changed when the Nintendo Switch version was announced.Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is set after the events of the Holy Grail War depicted in Fate/EXTRA. Nero and her master, Hakuno Kishinami, were the victors and thus gained control of the Moon Cell Automaton computer.
Nero and Hakuno possess the Regalia ring, which is proof of their kingship. They are able to rule over former enemy Servants with the ring. However, a new enemy appears, and they too possess a Regalia ring.
The main story of Fate/EXTELLA is told from the perspectives of three different Servants: Nero, Tamamo no Mae and Altera.When you start a new game, you can choose whether to play as a female or male Master. You can also enter a name for them, with Hakuno Kishinami being the default option.
The first Servant you’ll be able to play is the Saber class Nero Claudius. She is a gifted swordswoman with well-balanced abilities. Nero still considers herself an “Emperor”, and as such can be extremely arrogant. However, her trust in her Master is very strong.
Her Noble Phantasm is Aestus Domus Aurea.
Tamamo no Mae is a Caster class Servant who handles various Witchcraft skills. Apparently her personality can be a little hard to swallow, but she manages to be bold and subservient in the presence of her Master. Regardless of whether her Master is male or female, she refers to them as her husband.
Her Noble Phantasm is Eightfold Blessing of Amaterasu.
Altera is another Saber class Servant. She is proud and clear headed, though she has a sense of emptiness inside. There is no hesitation in her sword, and she shows her intensity during battle.
Her Noble Phantasm is Tear Drop Photon Ray.
Whilst the main story is told from the perspective of the three Servants shown above, there are plenty more to meet and fight against or alongside during the course of the game. These Servants come from all corners of the Fate franchise – Fate/EXTRA, Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero, Fate/Apocrypha and Fate/Grand Order. So if you’ve ever experienced any other piece of Fate media, then you’ll almost certainly come across at least one familiar face.
The other Servants get their own side stories that you can play through.
Each Servant has several different outfits that they can wear. All the DLC released for the PS4 and PSV version of the games is included with the Nintendo Switch version, as well as the exclusive Unshackled Bride outfit for Nero.
Fate/EXTELLA plays very similarly to Dynasty Warriors. You take control of a Servant and cut through hordes of enemies. The goal is to generally claim sections by defeating enough enemies to draw out Aggressors, and then you defeat them. Once enough Aggressors have been defeated, you claim the section.
By claiming territory, you move closer to the goal of completing the Regime Matrix. Once that is done, the Boss Servant appears. Defeating the Boss Servant is how you claim victory.
Claiming territory feels a lot like claiming keeps in the Dynasty Warriors series, and sure enough, there’ll be times when you have to defend them from enemy invasion as well.
Since this is Fate, Servants have access to Noble Phantasms. However, you can only use a Noble Phantasm after finding three Phantasm Circuits in a stage. This pretty much limits Noble Phantasms to one use per battle, but considering how much power they have, that makes sense.
Some Servants have access to a transformation called Moon Crux. Defeating the enemies builds the Drive Gauge, and once it is full, you simply need to press a button (ZL on the default control scheme) to transform.
This gives the Servant a boost of power, and allows them to use a Guard Break attack. Not all Servants can use Moon Crux, though – those who can’t get to use Moon Drive instead.
With Noble Phantasms and Moon Crux, as well as Extella Manoeuvres, there’s no lack of ways to rack up thousands of KOs during battle.
It’s not all about hacking and slashing through hordes of enemies, though. In ‘My Room’, as it is called, you can bond with the Servants. By building your bond with them, you are able to unlock new outfits for them to wear.
You can also gain access to Bond scenes, which include things like Nero bathing or Tamamo sleeping in the same bed as her Master.
My Room also allows you to craft items that can be useful for the Servants in battle, and naturally that’s the place where you can change a Servant’s outfit.
I’ll always find satisfaction in these kinds of games that are about you controlling a character slicing through hordes of enemies, even if they generally don’t offer much more beyond that.
With the Servant interactions in My Room, Fate/EXTELLA injects some character into its playable cast. From what I’ve played thus far, Nero and Tamamo in particular are pretty much infatuated with their Master – I don’t doubt that Altera will have similar feelings as well. And for those curious, I chose to play as the female Hakuno Kishinami. I’m sure the interactions between Servant and Master are the same regardless of the chosen gender, but it is nice to have a choice.
This type of game would be perfect for multiplayer co-op, but unfortunately that is something that Fate/EXTELLA lacks. It’s a strictly single player experience, which is something of a shame.
I’ve really been enjoying my time with Fate/EXTELLA, though spending 40 minutes on a single battle to unlock a favourite Servant of mine was a bit of a pain in the arse…
Enemies occasionally drop items, and unlocking that particular Servant involved getting five healing items – the foes did not want to give them up at all. And then after I succeeded, I got an item that increases the enemy’s drop rate when your Servant equips it.
Regardless, Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star has proven itself to be a pretty fun game, though it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. However, if you’re a fan of Fate and the Dynasty Warriors games, then this is something that I can easily recommend.