Although a fan of anime, I have never watched either Fate Stay: Night or Fate Stay: Zero. Personally, I prefer shows like Hunter X Hunter and Full Metal Alchemist, but in preparation of this review I researched the anime series on which this game is based, and also consulted my wife who has watched the whole thing. How she found the time to do so I’ll never know.
Turns out the anime has earned itself a cult following and is an enjoyable series with the prequel, Fate Stay: Zero, appearing to be the fan favourite. Sadly, and as we all know, a good show doesn’t guarantee a good game. You only have to look at last year’s TMNT tie-in to see that.
Explaining what Fate/Extella is about is tricky due to the insane complexities of the gradually unfolding story. I’ll give a shot, though. After picking either a male or female lead, you’re greeted by a generously proportioned female (if you know what I mean) known as Nero. It turns out that Nero is your servant, which came about after the Holy Grail war was won by yourself after obtaining a ring called the Regalia. The ring has been duplicated and fallen into wrong hands, and so you need to travel to different areas clearing out baddies and “super” bosses. Even with my wife’s expert knowledge, it’s hard to untangle the storyline any further.
From the off, this single player hack and slasher fails to make a favourable impression. The graphics remind me of Skies of Arcadia on Dreamcast, if only a tad better. The character models are appealingly sharp and full of colour, but they’re teamed with mundane backgrounds and uninspiring battle arenas. Rumour has it a 4k patch is on its way, but it’s hard to see how this could fix the dullness of the environments.
At least there is plenty of action elsewhere. Five minutes in and I had racked up a 2156 hit combo, unlocking a trophy in the process. One hour later, four-digit combos had become the norm…and the norm was starting to get a little tedious. It’s often said that Japanese games are all about gameplay rather than the graphics, and that’s something proven here – Fate/Extella is visually crude but can be both frantic and fun at times. Unfortunately, it isn’t varied enough to entirely grip.
Two main attacks are at your disposal – strong and weak, both looking the same. Alternatively, there’s a super-powered attack which is pulled off by tapping circle. This will increase your combinations tenfold but due to lack of skill required it doesn’t really provide much satisfaction. It may be an easy game to master, but because of this I never really enjoyed what I was doing nor did I feel that my gaming skills were tested.
I did find enjoyment in another department though – the puzzling dialogue is littered with sexual innuendo. Cut-scenes appear after every 20-30 min battle, and usually drag on for just as long. However, every now and then Nero – our sultry servant – comes out with lines that are so cringe-worthy you can’t help to smile. As soon as the humour dries up though we’re back to boredom.
Those able to find solace within the repetition will find that this is a lengthy game – 4 different arcs, lasting 25-30 hours in total. There’s a whole host of pointless side quest modes to work through too if you want the platinum trophy. However, there was no chance I was going to continue playing for any longer than needed.
Another frustrating element is how it is subtitled. Sometimes Nero, amongst other characters, talk and there aren’t any subtitles. I know most of the NPC’s conversations probably aren’t all that important, but it still would have helped in solving the main riddle of this game – the story.
A lack of coherency ultimately left me wondering just who would enjoy this. Parts of this journey are fun, but mostly it’s monotonous. Attack on Titan offers a far more pleasurable experience for anime fans. Even fans of the Fate series are going to be disappointed. After talking to fans on a forum they made me aware that the confusing story bears no real resemblance to any of the storyline – it just contains a few of the known characters. It isn’t approaching a TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan level of awfulness, but even so, that’s no grounds for a recommendation.