Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star has a crazy anime story told from multiple viewpoints, attacks that would make super heroes feel weak, and an overall enjoyable experience. On the PS Vita, it looks fantastic, and the whole thing is in Japanese. If that did not send you running, keep reading to see why this game deserves room on your overpriced PS Vita memory card.
Fate/Extella is based on the Fate series universe of manga and anime such as Unlimited Blade Works, Fate/Zero, and Fate/Stay Night. The story revolves around a secret war to obtain a magical item known as the Holy Grail. If you win, it will grant you anything you want. Out of the seven mages self-selected to fight in the war, each will summon the spirit of a warrior from the past with different classes and abilities to help them fight. The last mage standing wins the prize.
The story for the Fate/Extella is written by the author of a previous game and some of the manga, and it is even more wonderfully strange, sometimes bordering on incomprehensible. The main character has just won the Holy Grail War and a digital version of the mage is living on the Moon after Earth has been ravaged. The Moon Cell computer governs everything on the Moon, and is creating additional lands in SE.RA.PH. An ancient destructive force has emerged that threatens to decimate all life, and you must stop it.
The main narrative is told from three different points of view. The player is paired with one of three powerful Heroic Spirits with different personalities and purposes as the story unfolds. The first is the Roman emperor, Nero, except he is now a she. A dragon version of Elizabeth Bathory also inserts herself in the narrative, and these are only some of the people you will meet.
Each story will only unlock after the previous story has been completed. There is a combination of short cutscenes and multiple text cards that not only show you important moments of the game, but they show you what characters are thinking.
There are also many side characters who will fight for you, or you can use them to fight in the main story or in separate side stories. These side stories show that each Spirit has its own reasons for fighting, and they are searching for different things.
The gameplay is similar to games in the Warriors’ franchise. The battlefield is segmented into different areas with different numerical values. To oversimplify, if you control enough of these areas, your team wins, but there is a small bit of strategy thrown into here too. There are certain areas that are critical to controlling the level. There are also other heroic spirits that have to be beaten in order to take on the “boss” for the level.
It all works really well together, and combat looks incredible. At its most basic, there are normal and heavy attacks that can be combined into combo attacks. You can also dash or guard to move out of the way or block an attack.
However, the best attacks are using the Nobile Phantasm and Moon Crux. These are the most powerful and most impressive attacks your characters have. When using the Moon Crux attack, you even have a short Sailor Moon-esque transformation that can be skipped. As a fan of the anime, I loved to see these attacks and harness the true power of a Heroic Spirit.
The enemies range from the basic cannon fodder types to stronger and more visually interesting Aggressors. Once enough enemies have been defeated, the Aggressors will appear. If you kill all of them in the sector, it is under your control, and your forces become the defenders.
You can improve your equipment through crafting different bits of armor to make code casts. These allow you to change to one of your sub-heroes in a fight, heal your hero, cure poison, and provide other benefits.
You can also use install skills. These let you boost your attack, defense, movement, or add elemental damage to your attacks. When you finish a level, you will receive new or upgraded versions. By placing two of these in adjoining slots, you will boost their effectiveness. More slots will open as you gain levels.
I played this exclusively on the Vita, and I thought the graphics were fantastic. There are a variety of levels, and they have their own art styles. The game uses vibrant colors, and the character models looked great. As I mentioned, the special attacks were over the top in the best way. The game does not have the sharp detail of a PS4 game, but I have no complaints.
Technically, the game is excellent. There are short loading screens before and after a level, but they did not bother me at all. I did not experience a single problem while playing, and I suspended the game many times only to pick it up without issue.
The sound is another excellent part of the game. All of the characters, except the main character, are fully voiced in Japanese with subtitles. I prefer my anime to have the original voice actors with subtitles, so this was a plus for me. After hearing “Tanoshii!!!” many times, I started yelling it around the house after I did something great, like the laundry.
There are some draw backs that I need to mention, and the first is obvious with this type of game. Even with the variety of special moves, the combat is not for everyone, and it could easily become repetitive. There are multiple difficulty levels and the challenge could lessen the impact, but it will not completely eliminate it.
The other problem is that this is an anime and video game story. If you hate anime, I do not recommend this game to you. I would actually wonder why you are playing it. I liked the story, but the sometimes, awkward romantic relationships and dialogue between Master and Servant (this is not BDSM by any means) can be over done at times.
For anyone else familiar with the genre and anime, this game is a lot of mindless fun. You can jump into a level, destroy everything around you, overcome other powerful beings, and save a world run by a computer on the Moon.
If all this sounds good to you, I recommend the game without reservation. You are going to get exactly what you expect, and it will be awesome. It is fun to see the characters from the show, and the story unfolds in an interesting way. With three main campaigns and plenty of side characters, there is plenty to keep you playing, at least until the next Holy Grail War.
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star PS Vita Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.3/10
I really enjoyed my time with Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, but it is a game for fans of the Warriors franchise style of combat and fans of the show. The combat can become repetitive, and the story can be a little tough to understand at times.
However, it knows its audience, and it provides a wonderful experience for anyone looking to have more fun in the Fate universe. If that is you, I recommend you give it a try. You will not be disappointed.
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Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.