Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a third person hack-and-slash action game developed by Marvelous and published in North America by XSeed Games. It is a spin-off of the popular Fate multimedia franchise by Type Moon that started with the Visual Novel Fate/stay night(originally an eroge that was toned down for a general audience) that spun off into anime, manga and video games. Fate/Extella is an indirect sequel to the spin-off game Fate/Codes (still available on PSN as of this writing.) and Fate/Codes CCC (Japan only). This game is available for the PS Vita and the PS4 with cross save and cross download features. It is playable on the PlayStation TV micro console.
The Fate franchises has an underlying theme to all of its versions: The is a mystical artifact called the Holy Grail (what it is can vary) and a war is fought over it. The Grail chooses several people to become Masters. Masters usually have some sort of magical aptitude, but their level can vary from person to person. All of them, however. are able to summon a Servant. A servant is a Heroic Spirit that become a legend in the past, present or even future. They come from history, legends, myths or even from times not yet past. These Heroic Spirits are not necessary good, but they have all made their mark on history in some way. But the ultimate goal is to defeat all of the others and win the Holy Grail, which will grant them what they desire most.
Servants are broken down into several classes. There are Sabers (sword wielders), Casters (magic users), Riders (fast moving, sometimes with a mount), Archers (projectiles, not necessarily arrows), Berserkers (great strength and endurance), Lancers (lances and pole arms), and Rulers (able to command other Servants)
Fate/EXTELLA varies a bit from the core Fate storyline. For one, it takes place not in our world, but in a virtual reality. The Holy Grail is the Moon Cell Automaton, an ancient computer build by non-human hands and hidden on the Moon. It generates a virtual world called SE.RA.PH. Masters, called wizards, project their consciousness into this world and they bond with their Servants, who the Moon Cell Automaton pulls from the Earth’s history.
The second difference is that the Holy Grail War is already won. Set after the events of Fate/Codes, EXTELLA sees the player takes the role of the Master who had won the Grail War and now rules over the virtual world of SE.RA.PH alongside the Servant, Nero Claudius. A Saber class servant, Nero is very loyal to the protagonist. She (yes, she) gathered four other Servants (now existing independently in SE.RA.PH.) to help rule the new lands. She has a ring, the Regalia that symbolizes her dominion over SE.RA.PH. But things are not as simple as it seems. Another servant appears with her own Regalia. A Caster, Tamamo no Mae has claimed that she won the Holy Grail War along side her master, who appears to be the player character as well.
A servant sent as a System Administrator, Archimedes explains that the player character was attacked in the real world by servants of Velber, the Umbral Star, a sentient planet that destroys every civilization it encounters. It has returned to Earth after 14 000 years to lay waste to the planet and its Moon. It split the player’s avatar into three parts, Body, Mind and Spirit. Nero has Mind, Tamamo has spirit, and the body is in the hands of Velber’s servant, Altera. The player has to help the servants reunite the three parts and hopefully stop the Umbral Star from destroying the virtual and the real world.
The main story is split into three parts, one for Nero, Tamamo, and Altera. Each part has you fight in battles as you try to win by taking over sections of the battlefield and defeating the enemies within. Each time to takeover a sector, you gain keys called Regime Matrices. Collect 15 keys and you take over the area. Lose 15 and the enemy takes over instead and you lose. One you have 15, the Boss servant appears and you have to beat them to complete the level. this is similar to the gameplay of Koei Tecmo games such as Dynasty Warriors.
You create the Master of the game, but the customization is limited. You can create the name and choose their sex, but that is all you can customize. Other than you name and what sex you choose, the game plays the same with your servant expressing their admiration and love for you no matter your sex. You are skill referred to as King or Master or Husband, depending on the character, though sometimes the female player character is referred to as Lady.
Each of the servant characters have the standard light and heavy attacks (Square and Triangle, respectively) that can be chained for combos. As the character levels up you gain the ability to do longer combos as they are unlocked. The Circle button activates the Extella Maneuver; as the little blue bars beneath your health fill up, you are able to launch an attack that hits all the opponents around you. The more bars you have build up, the longer you can string the attacks.. Finally, X is jump.
There are also two special attacks. First is the Moon Crux (L2 on PS4, L and X on the Vita)for the three main heroines in with they temporarily transform into a more powerful version of themselves and gains special effects like flames or ice with their attacks. The other servants don’t transform, but become more powerful until the bar above their health empties. The other special attack is the characters’ Noble Phantom. Throughout each level, there are Red crystals with a circuit part that fills a graphic next to the character’s health. Once you get three of them and complete the circuit, you can press R2 (or the circuit symbol with the Vita’s touch screen) to activate the attack. Each characters attack is different and they tie into that character’s legend or backstory.
Besides the main story, you have two other modes. The side quest allows you to play as any of the other servants you have unlocked in story mode. There is also a Free Mode, in which you can replay any of the missions you have beat with any character that you have unlocked. Missions may even have side missions give by other servants that will increase you affinity with them. There is also a gallery, which you can watch any of the cut scenes you unlocked, look at character models or read up on terms in the Fate Extella setting.
There are alternate costumes available as paid DLC for the game, with more coming in the weeks to come. You can change the costume between missions and the character’s looks will reflect the costume in most cut scenes. Even the character art in the dialogue will reflect the costume you are wearing, which is a nice touch.
This is a pretty fun game. Fans of Dynasty/Samurai/Hyrule Warriors will enjoy the same hack and slash gameplay in this title. The three storylines and the ability to replay levels adds some value to the game. The characters are all interesting, once you get over some of the interesting changes to some historical figures. Nero being a woman is not that surprising; in the original Fate anime, the Sabrer in that series, Artoria (who is a hidden character in this game), was the legendary King Arthur. Iskandar, the King of Conquerors, is large and imposing, but historically, Alexander the Great (who is based on) wasn’t that tall though his exploites were larger than like. The most interesting interpretation was Elizabeth Bathory. A Hungarian countess distantly related to the (historical) Vlad Dracula , she was accused of murdering young girls to bath in their blood to remain young. In the Fate world, she returns looking like a teenage girl with dragon wings and tails and a desire to become a pop idol.
Both the PS 4 and the PS Vita versions play the same. Of course, the Vita version cannot show as may enemies on screen as the PS 4. In fact I find the Vita version a bit easier because of that. Both versions have an option to upload your same so you can transfer it to the other system. Gameplay on the PlayStation TV version lets you use the controller like in the PS4 version. All of the DLC the is or will be available for this game will get you both the Vita and PS4 version
Fate/EXTELLA: the Umbral Star is available now both in a physical release or digitally on the PSN. The Digital version will give you a theme for the system you bought it for and either the Shackle Bride outfit for Nero (PS4) or the Cold Blooded Warden outfit for Gilgamesh (PS Vita). Both the physical version comes in the Noble Phantasm edition, which I will review separately.