07th Aug2017

‘Fate/Extella: Umbral Star’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

fate-extella-umbral-star-switch

Expanding upon the extensive Fate universe with an original story from acclaimed series writer Kinoko Nasu (of Fate/stay night fame), Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star takes place after the events described in Fate/EXTRA, and depicts the world as it appears following that previous Holy Grail War. Told from the independent perspectives of the three heroine Servants, the game features foes from a variety of other Fate productions, including characters from Fate/EXTRA, Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero, Fate/Apocrypha and Fate/Grand Order, in fast-paced action.

Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star features a diverse cast of 16 playable “Servants” – ancient warriors of legend and imagination, always at the beck and call of their Masters – who survived the Holy Grail War that took place on the Moon. In a future watched over by the all-powerful lunar supercomputer, “Moon Cell Automaton,” these champions now battle for dominance over this digital realm, known as “SE.RA.PH.”

Yeah…. Did you follow all that? Don’t worry if you didn’t because Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star can easily be played on a purely hack and slash level, foregoing the complex (yet intriguing) story, should you so wish. Its testament to the developers that you don’t need to follow the story to enjoy the game – OK, so hacking and slashing your way through waves of enemies without context might sound dull, but thanks to the games puzzle-like elements and the limits placed upon you by the ever-present enemies there’s an in-built tension that keeps you constantly on your proverbial toes.

Like many Musou games (such as Samurai Warriors, Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, etc.), the combat here is pretty simple. There’s no ridiculous key combos, just light and heavy attacks, block, dash and dodge. That’s it. Well I say that’s it, there’s also the enemy wave-destroying Extella Maneuver that takes down multiple enemies – for thats the thing, Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star is PACKED with enemies, so many in fact that you can easily rack up huge, and I mean satisfyingly huge, kill counts! The aim of all the hack and slash action is to collect more “Regime Keys” and completing the “Regime Matirx” before the enemies do. You do this by taking over sectors by killing all the enemies and then the Boss Servant (aka end of level boss) before they do the same to you – it’s this battle for territory that creates the aforementioned tension in Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star and deciding which arena to defend when ALL of them are under attack provides the puzzle-like element.

The thing that raises Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star above it’s Musou competition is it’s speed. This game is fast. Much more so than Samurai Warriors (the latest iteration of which I was playing at the same time as this). The speed at which you battle, switch sectors, and generally move around the game adds a real frentic edge to proceedings. For those, like me, that like their hack and slash games to move with pace, Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star ticks all the boxes.

Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star is also packed with content. The main story/campaign is worth your money alone but here you also get various side stories and all the DLC available, featuring a myriad of different characters from the Fate universe – which adds hours of extra gameplay. Graphically, this Nintendo Switch iteration looks almost identical to its Sony counterparts. Sure the PS4 version didn’t make complete use of the consoles graphical capabilites and has the edge over the big screen experience, but the simpler PS Vita-like graphics fit the Switch’s screen perfectly. Combine that with the pick-up-and-play gameplay and you have an ideal portable gaming experience for Switch owners.

If you’re a fan of Musuo games, even if you’re not familiar wth the Fate franchise, Fate/EXTELLA: Umbral Star is a must-have game and you should really make it your next Switch purchase.

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