Even casual anime fans will have likely heard of the Fate series, but many may not realize how expansive it is. There are over a dozen game titles based on this series, often in different settings or alternate timelines to the original. This particular one, Fate/Extella: Link is a sequel to Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star.
The game is available on Steam (PC), which I am personally playing and it has also released on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
Fate/Extella: Link is a hack’n’slash game, quite similar to the Musou/Warriors series of Dynasty Warriors fame. You play as a single character and fight massive hordes of enemies, with the occasional ‘general’ or in this case, ‘servant’ thrown in.
You find yourself in a digital world called SE.RA.PH, where you reside with your servants – embodiments of legendary figures from history and mythology around the world. Closest to you are a female version of Emperor Nero of Rome and Tamamo no Mae from Japanese mythology, along with a new ally whom this game focuses on – Charlemagne.
Soon you encounter a new threat. Rex Magnus and the Oracle system. This system is used to perform a limited type of brainwashing on servants. It can turn allies into enemies but cannot change their core values. This sets up the story to allow you to face old allies and enemies alike.
I cannot say that the plot of the game is particularly enticing, but it does do the job of setting the scene and a reason for some fights which fans of the series will enjoy. You are able to both face and play as characters from a variety of the Fate series, such as Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Grand Order. That said if you have no familiarity with the Fate series it may take you a while to catch up, as it does not do a great job of explaining the background.
The gameplay is where this game really shines. The combat is incredibly quick and smooth. It’s honestly a joy to run around the battlefields, cutting down thousands of enemies in a single level. You can run, jump and dash through crowds of robots very quickly or destroy them all with barely any effort.
You control the servant on battlefields which consist of segments. The goal is to clear objectives set, such as protecting your master and defeating certain enemies, but also to take control of those segments. To control an area, you must defeat the main enemies known as Aggressors within it. You can move through segments by flying through tunnels at high speed. Eventually, a boss shows up who needs to be defeated to end the level.
I was initially skeptical of the segments layout, as it reminded me of old PSP games where it was done for loading times. Fortunately, the fast pace of the game is not interrupted and it worked well.
You can use quite a wide variety of attacks. Combos with regular light and heavy attacks are constantly being used, which is a standard in these types of games. In addition, you can clear large numbers of enemies by using special attacks, which have a fairly short cooldown time to help combat move quickly.
While killing the enemies, a gauge for the ‘Moon Drive’ increases. When it is full, you can trigger this for a short period of time at a much higher strength. There is an additional gauge to use your Noble Phantasm too, which acts as one incredibly strong special attack.
On occasion, while fighting other servants you may run into some additional mechanics for fighting in a direct contest. Usually, this involves tapping quickly to fill a gauge and beat the enemy to advantage in a contest of strength or combo attacks with your allied servants.
While you clear the battlefield, you will have other servants and enemies chime in with some entertaining bits of dialogue. Events can occur which change the flow of battle too, such as Tamamo no Mae stopping her own fight to give you the ability to send out constant special attacks.
Outside of battle, you spend your time in a flying fortress which Charlemagne provides. It acts as your base and includes functions to chat with your servants, customize their skills, change their costumes and increase the level of bond you have with your servants. This allows you to expand their combat skills and keep things fresh, as well as providing some interesting backstory about the characters themselves.
The levels are arranged in a branching storyline. You complete a level and then more unlock. You can choose which direction to go in, which then fulfills the unlock requirements for later levels. It did keep it interesting to go back and along the alternate pathways.
Outside of the story, there is an online multiplayer mode. It is a king of the hill style mode where you and your teammates have to control an area and stop the enemy players from taking over. It is a fun addition and lets you play with most of the characters even before unlocking them, but it’s certainly not the main attraction.
Overall, this is an incredibly fun hack’n’slash game. Perhaps it could do more with the Fate brand, expanding on the story and character development, but that is not the draw of this game. The combat is the obvious star of the show, supported by the characters and the systems to develop their skills and powers.
I believe that fans of the Fate series will enjoy this particularly as they will have more background knowledge and be happy to see more of the characters. That said, anyone who enjoys musou-style games will likely not regret buying this game.
You can buy the game on Steam for PC or on the console stores.
Many thanks go to Marvelous Games for providing a review code for this title.