Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star (PS4) Review

Jae Lee

Umu.

Type-Moon’s Fate series has become something of a phenomenon since its humble origins as a visual novel that was released back in 2004. Now it spans multiple games of different genres, anime series, movies and much more.

Adding onto that long list is their latest entry in the form of a musou title, oddly following the story arc that began in the Fate/Extra RPG series that came out on the PSP.

As someone who is quite familiar with the Fate series as a whole, having seen multiple anime series including Fate/Zero, Fate/Unlimited Blade Works and more, I went into Fate/Extella with hopes that it would be more than just another musou game.

If this screenshot of Saber wrestling a lion bare-handed doesn’t make you giggle, this game probably isn’t for you.

MSRP: $49.99
Platforms: PS4, PSV
Played on: PS4 Pro
Voice Over Selection: JPN only
Length: 16~ hours to finish main campaigns, more with side campaigns

To those unfamiliar with the term “musou”, it’s a title given to a genre popularized by the Dynasty Warriors where the main focus of the gameplay revolves around being a one-man army and taking on hundreds of enemies at once.

It’s a hack-slash action game with light RPG elements, and Fate/Extella certainly doesn’t deviate from that formula much.

The screen is often filled with dozens of enemies at once, ands most of the time, they just kind of stand around waiting to be killed. It’s a simple power fantasy, where challenge takes a backseat allowing for body counts numbering in the thousands per stage.

As for the controls, there’s are simple light and heavy attacks along with three variations of super attacks, two being a screen annihilating ultra moves, and the other, a powered up form of sorts that can used for a little while to really dish out the pain.

Along with a simple dash maneuver that can be spammed endlessly, it’s a fast paced hack-and-slash title even by musou standards, and I found myself dashing endlessly to gather up a big group of enemies to lay waste to them at the same time.

Each servant has a bond level with their master, and increasing them allowed equipping of more trait enhancements, which were random drops that combined together to become stronger over time.

There was also a loadout of sorts where I could craft an outfit that came with spells that I could cast to help my servants out in a pinch.

The objectives for each mission ranged from taking over a certain number of sectors or killing special enemies, but it all really felt the same as I was endlessly killing infinitely spawning soldiers, one way or another.

There’s a lot of doing the same thing but that’s expected of a musou game.

Where Fate/Extella separates itself from other games from the genre is in its stronger emphasis on story and characters. As theThe Fate series is known for its strong world building and narrative where heroic spirits called “servants” are summoned to fight on behalf of their master.

It’s quite an intriguing premise, and I often recommend people check out the original visual novel game or watch the anime like Fate/Zero or Fate/UBW. However, even though I could clearly see that there was an effort made in telling a complete story in Extella, I couldn’t help but feel that it was certainly the weakest effort from Type-Moon that I’ve experienced thus far.

The already established characters like Saber and Caster, while remaining mostly charming, aren’t explored more in interesting ways and instead ended up reusing old quirks to the point of exhaustion.

Nero is just as charming as I remember her from Fate/Extra but Extella doesn’t do much with her at all.

It’s entirely possible that I am simply asking for too much from a musou game, but given that I am not someone that really enjoys the games in this genre, I was hoping that the story would be enough of a hook to carry the entire playthrough.

Unfortunately, when the credits rolled after the true ending route, I was left feeling that this was a disposable bit of side story and not the epic conclusion to the Fate/Extra story arc.

Still, it is worth mentioning that there certainly is a lot of content to dig through in Extella, as outside of the main campaign, there are side stories featuring the various other servants that make an appearance.

Fan favorites like Archer(Emiya), Gilgamesh, Lancer, Rider and many more have their own story to tell, and while they’re still the same type of missions, it’s nice that they get their moment in the spotlight along with the main three servants.

Compared to the exceptional artwork, the actual visuals of the game feels quite dated and clearly looks like an upscaled Vita game.

Fate/Extella is a title that has a lot to live up to due to the immense popularity of the Fate series as a whole. However, it doesn’t do much to stray from the typical formula set forth by the countless other musou titles on the market. It sports a serviceable but unremarkable combat engine, along with a story that felt just as disposable as one of the tens of thousands of enemies I left in my wake.

Fun Tidbit – When’s Fate/Extra CCC, though?

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Many different campaigns
  • The various servants pack a lot of personality and charm

Bad

  • A bit light on the story compared to other Fate games
  • Dated visuals that don’t live up to the art style
  • Combat is simple and gets repetitive quickly
6.5

Decent

Jae Lee
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.
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