- Developer: Marvelous
- Publisher: Marvelous (XSEED)
- Release Date: 22/03/2019
- Price: £44.99 / $49.99
- Review Code provided by XSEED
Into the virtual world
The Fate series of anime is one that is quite popular, and those who watch it could see the potential it would have to translate into a video game series. A video game series did eventually spawn, one beginning on the PSP with the game Fate/Extra. It was a JRPG with a very unique battle system, as well as requiring you to search for information about your upcoming opponents servants as you try to win the holy grail war. What made this game different from the many anime series that continue to be churned out today, is that it takes place entirely in a virtual world.
A sequel to that game launched a few years ago called Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, and featured a much different style of game. Instead of a more traditional JRPG format, the game employed the Dynasty Warriors style of gameplay, having you control a servant as you run around a battlefield, destroying thousands of enemies as you complete some rather simple missions. Fate/EXTELLA LINK continues in that style, but I will touch more on the gameplay elements later.
The story continues
Fate/EXTELLA LINK continues the story set up in The Umbral Star. You are a master of servants based on heroic figures in history, and are a human living in a virtual world. After the holy grail war, it seems that things are somewhat peaceful. Of course, that peace is short lived, as this is a video game and if there wasn’t an evil to squash, then there wouldn’t be a game to play.
The mysterious naughty man is quite villainous, manipulating servants to support his cause, as well as creating shadow versions of each of the servants to do his bidding. He wants to unite the virtual world by essentially brainwashing everyone, and leads an attack against our hero and his many followers.
As I said earlier, the game follows the same formula as a Warriors game, such as Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors of Fire Emblem Warriors. You get an overall mission to achieve, which is always take over areas and defeat the boss, and once that is achieved then it is mission complete, rinse and repeat. During a mission, you will get other objectives as the battles progress, such as saving a servant in trouble or protecting your master on the battlefield. The way information about these missions are dolled out to you are rather vague and hard to see, and caused a few frustrating mission failures for me, though for the most part the missions are straight forward and require little thought.
Combat is very simplistic, but somewhat fun and satisfying, if a little tedious at times. You have a basic light and heavy attacks, and using them in different combinations will give you access to different combos. Some attacks require precise timings, while others you can just mash as quickly as you can. You also have special abilities that run on cooldown timers, and are successful at destroying swarms of enemies, or can even launch enemy servants. Launching an enemy servant can give you an opportunity to follow up with an air attack, which has you just mash the Y button until they break away. A similar action is required when you lock weapons with an enemy servant, having you mash Y in the hopes that you mash the button faster than your enemy and get to hit them away.
You can enter a special state that enhances your power and abilities, and lets you pull off a powerful move that can deal a decent amount of damage. This requires you to fill up a certain meter by killing enemies. If you fill the bar completely and enter that special state, you can pull off your noble phantasm, which is the servant you are controllings most devastating move. It will essentially wipe the battlefield, and take a massive chunk of health off of a bosses health.
There is a levelling system in place, but for the most part it seems to be there as a way to gate off certain level paths and to doll out your special moves at a slower pace, rather than give you all your abilities up front. I don’t necessarily have a problem with it, as the roots of the game is from a JRPG so it makes sense in that regard, but it just seemed rather arbitrary for the most part.
How the story is told
Speaking of different level paths, the game does give you some dialogue choices at times, which sends you on different paths towards different endings. You will see that the level tree branches into two different endings, though there may actually be more when you complete those endings…
When you aren’t in battle, the story is told in a visual novel style, with anime versions of the characters being static on screen, delivering you dialogue atop dialogue boxes. You will then sometimes get a choice which will dictate what mission you will do next, but for the most part you do not interact with the cutscenes as they take place.
That anime look and sound
Visually the game is both striking and ugly. The art design of the characters is beautiful, and the new renditions of old favourites from the anime feel right at home. When you hit the battlefield though, the visuals become a mixed bag. The environments are generally bland, with a few exceptions, and the generic enemies you face are rather boring fodder to look upon. The more enemies that appear on screen, the fuzzier the visuals seem to get as well. I found that when you zoomed in on a character, they were full of detail, but as soon as you pulled back, all that details disappeared into a blur. This was much more noticeable in handheld mode, but it wasn’t completely exempt from these issues when docked. As this is extremely action heavy though, the downgrade in visuals when the game is in motion is not all that noticeable at all.
As for the sound, the entire voice over is in Japanese, which is something I prefer personally, but I know some of you will be put off by that. Overall the VO is done at a high quality, and is a strong point of the game. The sound of clashing weapons and special abilities makes battles feel epic, and is definitely additive to the game.
Fate/EXTELLA LINK is very much another one of those Warriors-style of games. It doesn’t do too much to differentiate itself from the pack besides what its source material is based off of, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because there isn’t as much bloat added to the game as those official Warriors titles, the action feels snappier and more constant. Where you run across a large battlefield in the Warriors games on your way to checkpoints, Fate/EXTELLA LINK skips the wandering, opting for a fast dash from battlefield to battlefield.
The story is rather nonsense, but is still fun and in line with what you would expect from a spin-off of the Fate anime series. There are some issues with the visuals when in the battlefield, but for the most part the game looks great, and is backed up by wonderful voice acting work and sound effects. Overall I feel the game is worth a look if you are into these types of games, especially if you are a fan of the source material.
- Great character design
- Uses the source material well
- Combat is fun, but…..
- ….. can get tedious after a while
- Visuals take a hit on the battlefield
- Story gets a little convoluted