We all know that feeling of going to party and not knowing a single person there or what any of them are talking about. We try to poke around and join in on the fun, maybe we even have a great time, but we leave having no idea what was going on. Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is just that kind of party. You’ll have fun in short bursts but extended time with it will leave you confused as to what just happened and what the hell they were all talking about.
The game is a Nintendo Switch port of a the previously released PS4 and PS Vita versions released earlier this year. The Switch release differentiates itself by including all the paid dlc available on the other platforms. Beyond that, there are few differences between them and no reason to snag the new one if you’ve got it on another system.
The Taking place after some sort of calamity destroyed much of the world and started the holy grail war. We find our protagonist “master” and his “servant” Nero tasked with protecting their throne from other “masters” who look just like our protagonist and their respective “Servants”. Told over a series of cutscenes that, despite being well voiced and animated, seem to just never end. The story sets itself up in a way that piqued my interest and then left me unfortunately disappointed. What seemed like it would be an action packed anime story just ended up being full of fan service and consistently confused.
After completing the main story, you unlock the story from the perspective of another master servant pairing but this ends up being the same story you’ve already played through. Even featured in most of the same environments with slight differences between them. There are also side quests involving companion sergeants that are unlocks after the completion of the main story quests but these still just take place over the same areas featured in the main story and involve the same battle requirements. Truth be told, After the completion of the initial story, there is little reason to return to the others except for the fun of the game.
The game plays out as a marriage of a Dynasty-Warriors-esque hack and slash and a visual novel. Placing your character, or Servant, in an arena facing hundreds of baddies at any given time. This is where the game is its strongest. Battles were flashy and fun, within minutes of the tutorial ending I had accumulated a combo pushing the high thousands while volleying a few enemies in the air. Special attacks were extremely easy to execute and their button commands were simple to remember, making for an enjoying experience regardless of skill level. Battles progress by having you traverse to separate rooms within each arena to destroy more faceless foes and to obtain more “keys”. These keys, once fully collected, will unlock a portal to the “Boss Servant” to be defeated for completion.
Despite adding the occasional battle condition to the fight, the tasks necessary for completion rarely deviates from the standard goal of defeating all the enemy combatants. The lack of combat variation, despite the combat being fun, might deter players from returning after their initial play through.
The game looks and runs really well on the Switch hardware. Hopping from docked to handheld mode was seamless and showed no signs of frame rate drop. Even during the more action packed battle sequences, the game held up well. However, graphically the game looks like the developer designed the game to run on the Vita and later ported it to these more capable consoles. Not to say the game looks bad, but with what the Switch and PS4 are capable of, I expected so much more.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star isn’t a great game but its not a bad game either. It might have a bit of a convoluted story more suited to die hard fans of its predecessor but it provided a battle system entertaining enough to keep me playing for a while. Even though the story left much to be desired, the gameplay made up for its shirt comings by proving to mostly fun. At a time where the Switch is still making a name for itself and building up a roster, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star makes a great contribution to the new system’s library and provides a great action game to hold fans over till more whets our appetite.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (PS4, PS Vita, Switch)
Developer: Marvelous Inc
Publisher: Marvelous USA/ XSEED Games
Release Date: July 25, 2017(Switch)
MSRP: $59.99(Switch), $59.99(PS4), $39.99(PS Vita)