Review: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star – When Shooting Stars Seal Fates

Pros:
+
North American copies will detect the Japanese version’s save file and allows for Data Sharing across both.
+Extremely smooth frame-rates and performances.
+Phenomenal gameplay mechanics for a first-time Musuo style entry.

Cons:
+Story may be confusing some due to Fate/Extra CCC having not come to North America.


Spoiler Warning: This review will spoil parts of Extella’s narrative and other parts of the Fate lore. If you actually want to avoid these, please check out the import preview, otherwise please read this awesome summary of the events of Fate/Extra and Fate/Extra CCC by nrvnqsr poster, mewarmo990.


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For nearly the last month, I’ve had a chance to play through Extella and I’ll be honest, even I’m still trying to properly sum up the events in a way that make sense to me. If there’s one thing I can say about the Nasuverse, it’s got quite the lore to pull from much less the historical components from which Type-Moon has liberally taken from. Extella takes itself no less serious, and if you approach the game without basic knowledge of the series, it will go right over your head.

Having only ever played part of Nero’s route in Fate/Extra and never played CCC, this portion of the Fate universe is still new to me, so I have the unique experience of playing this game as both a fan and newcomer. (Side note, I enjoyed the story in Extra but the combat/gameplay is extremely dull. Think rock-paper-scissors but with a Fate skin and an extreme level of grinding unless you find an enemy attack guide and can guess attack patterns correctly.)

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As with most Fate properties, Extella follows the typical three arc / route setup: Red Saber (Nero), Caster (Tamamo no Mae), and another Saber (Altera). Like Fate/Stay Night, each route covers the same time period but as an alternate version where the difference in Servant choice will affect the outcome of events, sometimes drastically. In this case, shortly after the events of Fate/Extra and CCC, the main character, Hakuno, is split into three parts: the body, mind, and soul, with each part being divided between said servants.

Each part of Hakuno is unable to fully remember the events that led to his/her fracturing and therefore, it isn’t until said fragments begin to run into each other that brief glimpses of memory begin to reconnect. Throughout every path is one constant; Archimedes. He plays the dutiful system admin for Moon Cell but is secretly working for the Velber star, a powerful entity that reappears once every 14,000 years to destroy humanity.

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I don’t want to fully spoil the plot but every arc revolves around this basic story structure, but how each story plays out is different. Successfully completing the three routes will unlock the True Ending and one of the best servant variants I’ve seen yet. You’ll know it when you see it, but the first thought that went through my mind was, “Yep. That’s gonna be made into a figure.”

Aside from the main story arcs, each solo servant in the game has their own story you can play through, which is usually three chapters long. There’s quite a few inside jokes that may be missed by non-fans, but for those who are caught up on the majority of the Type-Moon properties, you’ll enjoy every minute of extras. Personally speaking, as annoying as Elizabeth is, her story arc was my favorite to date.

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As usual, XSEED has given Extella the top notch treatment we’ve come to expect from them. The packaging for the Noble Phantasm Edition is the best I have ever seen from a modern niche game release and while it is regrettable that there are some Japan only extras that were even missed in the European release, I’m still happy with everything we got (I’m still going to track down a Velber Edition at some point).

To be honest, one of the best features of this release also happens to be its best hidden secret. Verified to be the same on the Japanese release, Extella will recognize a save file from another region’s version and convert it to work on the local release. As you can see from the messages below, the game allowed me to carry over my OP Nero and just run through the game without a care in the world.

 

But, this game is not without its issues. First, let’s address the biggest criticism among the community and myself: not every piece of dialogue is translated. In fact, attack moves, character chants, and noble phantasms have no subtitle option whatsoever, which is a big let-down. If you’ve played Fate/Grand Order, read Realta Nua, or watched any of the anime series, you know these lines by heart, but to not have them translated or at the very least, given an option to enable or disable subtitles is a real shame. Will this impact the overall experience and enjoyment of the game? No, not really.

However, it does feel like a missed opportunity for fans. Other minor issues include the occasional wrong character name on a text box or a typo here or there, but nothing major. Some folks have complained that character or noble phantasm names were mistranslated but in all honesty, many terms in this series have had “official” spellings that varied greatly depending upon the studio. Even among fans, Blue Saber’s name has at least three different variants, so I can’t really criticize XSEED for throwing darts at a list and sticking to what was chosen.

Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star – PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Developer:
Marvelous
Publisher: 
XSEED Games
Cost: $59.99 | $39.99
Release Date: 
Out Now

The good news though, is that all of my complaints could easily be addressed with a patch further down the line, so there is always hope. Boiling down a final score for this game was more challenging than I imagined it would be, as I had to approach this game objectively but at the same time, I’m also a huge fan.

In the end, gameplay was mildly repetitive and chapters mostly just repeat but with minor changes between character arcs. However, each character is fleshed out with their own skill tree and leveling them up turned out to be very rewarding. To the casual Dynasty Warriors fan, Extella is okay but nothing special aside from the extremely intricate lore it brings along with character back stories. But for the Fate or Type-Moon fan, this game needs no justification for purchase and you’re enjoyment of this game is nearly guaranteed. If you haven’t already purchased it, do yourself a solid and track down a copy for your collection today.


Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 7 out of 10


About the Writer:

Greg_F_Heisenberg

Greg F. is an RPG enthusiast whom absolutely enjoys the niche titles that come across from the East. When it comes to beat-’em-up brawlers such as Senran Kagura, Greg knows the titles just about as good as anyone else, but his passion not-so-secretly sits with his love for retro games from the NES and Sega period. In his free time Greg contributes to B.A.T.G.R. with his knowledge of such feedback.

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