Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star- Return to the Moon
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: PS4, PS Vita; reviewed on PS4.
ESRB Rating: Rated T
MRSP: $49.99 (USD)
A review copy was received by XSEED Games, thank you.
Today we’ll be returning to the Moon Cell to take a look at Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, the next entry in the on-going series of Fate games that began with Fate/Extra. To not go too far into the story of Extella (to avoid serious spoilers,) we continue after the events of Fate/Extra with the same protagonist and servant companion who now begin what could be their last battle to claim the entirety of the Moon Cell.
To begin talking about the gameplay found in Fate/Extella we can liken it to that of the Dynasty Warrior/Musou games in which you play a single character and fight off dozens, if not hundreds of weak enemies at a time, until you fight a stronger variant that controls a sector of the map. On the map there are multiple sectors that, once a set amount is under your control, you can proceed to fight the boss of the level to complete said level. Not only is there fast paced combat, but there are some RPG elements found as well; for instance, the character that you select can level up as you fight more and more enemies which in turn increases stats such as attack, defense, and so on. Another RPG-like mechanic found in Extella is the ability to craft and disassemble equipment. Although it may not offer better defense, it does offer unique skills you can use in levels such as gaining health back, increased damage, changes to your support character, and much more! Some of the more unique mechanics found in Extella are the Extella Maneuver (EM for short), which uses an additional bar that lets you deal massive damage to a large group of enemies. Yet another distinctive game mechanic found in Extella is the Command Seals. You are given three to use in any given level. During battles, you can use up all three to power up your damage and health, or, when you are downed, you can sacrifice one to return to the fight, or all three to return with more health and damage. There are additional mechanics but I feel they are best to be found and discovered as you play.
Looking at the graphics of Extella, it is safe to say what exceeds expectations at first glance are the character portraits, as they showcase very high quality artwork, along with gorgeous background art. Graphics by no means are a very high priority, but the character models themselves are by far the weakest subject here.
Fate/Extella isn’t strictly campaign based, as we also have “Free Battle,” which is a simple mode of picking your character and stage, allowing you to get right to the action. “Side Story,” meanwhile, lets you play an offshoot campaign of one of the additional side characters that are unlocked as the main stories progress. Last of the extra content is the Gallery, which not only lets you view previously seen cutscenes and play music tracks you’ve heard along the way, but also doubles as an encyclopedia. It provides incredibly in-depth information on the many different servants available in Fate/Extella, as well as general information on the different terms and story concepts such as the meaning behind servants, the Moon Cell, and much more!
In short, it is safe to say the gameplay for Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star fits very well with how the story is set to progress this time around, thanks to a more central focus on the action and events in those moments. There is some variety of playable characters with just over 15 playable, with the only downside being that, aside from the four main characters, the rest are unlocked as you progress and finish each of those main stories. The story itself being a direct continuation does make it somewhat difficult to understand if you haven’t played the previous entry due to the references made of characters and events from said entry.
My verdict for Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is:
-Unique playable characters
-Distinctive mechanics done well
-Character models are weak in comparison to other graphics
-The roster of playable characters is small