“Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star” is an anime action game developed by Marvelous Inc under the Moon-Type chronicles, which could be confusing if you’re heading into the story blind (as I have). It looks like an anime title with fan service mixed with hack and slash gameplay (this is a Marvelous game, after all), but there’s more to it in this digital phenomenal dimension that takes place on the Moon.
The story has three sides to it, each following a main Servant. The Regalia, a powerful program compressed into a ring, grants the victor of the Holy Grail War to reign over SE.RA.PH. However, it was fractured into three pieces along with Hakuno Kishinami (the main character avatar), who was separated into Mind, Soul, and Body for the three-story campaigns. As one of the Kishinami fragments, you must help your Servant to fight and conquer territories to eventually collect the rest of the Regalia in hopes to fix everything. The story gets a bit more complicated but fortunately there is plenty of exposition to help.
Story, Free Battle, and Side Story modes hold the same content, though Free Battle just segues right into preparations and Battle. In My Room, a base of operations in the castle (though it’s more like the Servant’s room than yours), you’ll spend time with your Servant and handle micromanaging. Talk will prompt a conversation with the Servant, such as Nero (The Red Saber), to discuss current events or have waifu moments.
During dialogue options, selecting the right line will increase her Bond for you, giving her more spaces to equip Install Skills as well as bridging circuits for potential bonuses. The Settings menu will do more than just let you go over the game’s options; it also lets you equip Mystic Codes onto Kishinami, so they can use Code Casts (spells). It’s also here you can set Install Skills to Servants for passive skills and enhanced performance and review the Servants’ Bond Levels.
Under Craft, you can create new Mystic Codes by using the Quantum Pieces (QP) earned from battle or salvaged by disassembling unused Codes. It feels more like a shop than crafting, but upgrade parts are required for some Codes. Once you’re done with everything in My Room you can select Battle and prepare some last-minute details, such as checking Bond Levels, Install Skills, and picking up Side Missions (if available) to further increase Bonds. After picking a stage you can select the difficulty you want to play, with level recommendations for Easy, Normal, and Hard. It’s very convenient to have the option right before battle opposed to being in the main settings, though if you want the good stuff, you’ll have to hit higher levels and replay it on Hard Mode.
Battling is your Dynasty Warrior/Senran Kagura affair: use attacks and combos to defeat Attack Programs (normal soldiers) to draw out Aggressors (the enemy leaders) to kill in order to claim a sector. The main objective is to complete the stage’s Regime Matrix by conquering sectors. The sector’s number adds to your matrix and subtract from the enemies until it’s complete, but the same goes for the opposition. Once the Regime Matrix is complete the Boss Servant will appear and defeating her will win you the Stage. There are other objectives you may need to complete, however. It draws out the Battle for a lengthy time but doing them will help make conquering easier.
During Battles you’ll see some notifications and dialogue, but there is a lot going on aside from fighting entire armies. The HUD is full of gauges to track, including the Extella Maneuver (close quarter roundhouse attacks), the Aggressor Meter (how soon they’ll pop up), the Moon Crux/Drive gauge that transforms or powers up Main and Sub Servants respectively, the Phantom Circuit that calls forth a Servant’s Noble Phantasm after collecting three pieces, and the EXP bar filled by your body count.
As for Gallery, it has categories for unlocked music, scenes, and the Servant models for viewing. However, most importantly it has the Encyclopedia, which holds entries on what you need to know to understand this world. Some entries are redacted until you unlock it during your playthrough, but it will help you very much in the long run. Especially if this is your first Type-Moon game.
The graphics are your stylized anime design. The World of SE.RA.PH, the digital dimension on the Moon, has an anime Tron design mixed with some Terran settings. Stages are based on some architect and other fantasy designs, broken up into sectors connected by ether-like tunnels. The more fantastical structures look great and feel as though they belong to an otherworldly dimension but the generic stage (the modern area stage) is unavoidable as are some invisible walls.
The Aggressors and Attack Programs are mostly generic humanoid actors, but they have a “Tron 2.0” (you know, the good “Tron” sequel?) look going for them. So at least they look like the part of being programs. There are also some very inhuman programs that show up as you progress and a few of these guys are quite large to handle.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be an anime game without stylized characters, and the Servants are the highlight of this. They range from simple to complex depending on the character, and many participate in some sex appeal like Cu Chulainn’s skin tight suit (for those “Dat Ass” people). The erotic focus, naturally, is more on the lady servants who show off their assets, with some jiggle bones in the chest department (at least the ones with breasts). As for DLC, there are costumes for everyone, including some sexy outfits (again, a Marvelous game). There is, however, some anime logic in their designs, so don’t fret over Nero’s helmet disappearing after she gets it in her Moon Crux transformation.
Marvelous Inc has kept the original voice acting for the game, which I can understand since it’s easier to just translate the subs. There are only a few instances where there aren’t subtitles, but it doesn’t hinder anything important. Regardless, the voice acting is alright, and the actors seem to have matched the characters’ personalities (within this game’s context). The stage music is pretty good, and most of them are strangely relaxing to while decimating enemies by the hundreds. There are also some tracks to couple with a few events that make the scene more epic, as well as a J-Pop song (not listed in the official soundtrack, though).
As this looked like a title meant for game pads, I played it with one. The controls work well for Xbox/Logitech controllers, and the control scheme is nicely spread out. Though that is not to say there are some issues, one of which is hitting the right target with an Extella Maneuver. Despite being an area effect attack, some side missions require you to hit an Aggressor with an Extella Maneuver. In other words, it can be a bit tricky.
All in all though, “Fate/Extella” is a pretty good army hack and slash game. The story, though a bit complicated, is an interesting read and the characters are fun to follow. With Battles, however, you’ll most likely miss something like Battle updates with everything going on. You may even miss how open Nero’s dress was in the back until one cutscene (though it can be easily seen in the Servant viewer under Gallery). And while there is plenty in the game, there is a lot of content to unlock to a point of feeling grindy. Furthermore, this game is the third title in the line so you’ll be lost in the get go. Despite being a title geared towards Type-Moon players it can be played as a standalone title.
+ Pretty good Dynasty Warriors/Senran Kagura gameplay
+ Appealing anime presentation
+ Exposition to help explain what is going on
+ Story can be enjoyed by those that picked this up as their first Type-Moon game
– Can feel grindy when unlocking and leveling
– Control issues with hitting specific targets with an Extella maneuver
– Hard to keep track of everything during a battle
– Third game from its line, more for Type-Moon players
Replay value: 3.5/5
I can’t say for certain that is where you would want to start getting into Type-Moon games as this is also the first time I’ve played a title from the franchise. It is, however, an enjoyable game despite how grindy is it, even on Animondays. Sure, “Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star” may not have as much of the Marvelous sex appeal, but it still has plenty of appeal on other fronts. So the game is most definitely worth picking up if you’re into anime action games.
Title: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star
Developer: Marvelous Inc
Resolution: 1680 x 1050
Release date: 2017-07-25
Spent time: 13+ hours
Average grade internationally: 50.00% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI 12+/Teen
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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