Localizer: Aksys Games
I beat the game back in November, but I was too lazy to type about it so I’m typing my review now. I was excited for Fate/Extra despite indifferent about Type-Moon since the game looked great. After playing it I’d have to say that it’s not bad since I did manage to beat the game and had fun for the most part, but the battle system is very hit-or-miss. If you don’t like having a deadline or playing day-by-day in your games (if you felt restricted by the calendar system in Persona 3/4), this game is probably not for you. Also, if you cannot stand relying on luck and memorization, you will probably ragequit.
Fate/Extra is an AU to F/SN where the Holy Grail War takes place in a virtual world consisting of 128 chosen combatants. Although this game would be more appealing to Fate and Type-Moon fans, it is a standalone RPG and is a pretty decent game if you manage to like the battle system. You take control of a nameable silent protagonist (gender can be chosen) with a generic design who attends a high school and doesn’t remember anything abut himself except for his name. Days go by normally, until a strange transfer student named Leo transfers in and things begin to seem odd. You witness him walk through a wall and follow, and a series of events brings you to meet your Servant. Together with your Servant, you are to participate in the Holy Grail War. The Holy Grail War is a war where participants battle each other and the the last standing winner obtains the Holy Grail, which is supposed to be able to grant any wish. The losers in the virtual world will die in the real world, and the war is organized so that you fight one opponent’s Servant each week for 7 weeks.
In case you are not familiar with the Fate universe, Servants are the souls of legendary people from the past. Servants will fit into one of seven classes depending on their abilities: Saber, Archer, Caster, Lancer, Rider, Berserker, Assassin. They’ll basically act as a familiar to their master, and have great combat ability. In Fate/Extra you’ll be able to choose between Saber, Caster and Archer for your Servant. The former two are female, the latter is male.
The game is organized into weeks, and each week is seven days. You will play through each day, and fight your opponent on the seventh day. During the rest of the week you will have to gather information about your enemy, train in the dungeon, and obtain “Triggers.” Each week there will be a different dungeon, called the Arena, that consists of two floors and has monsters for you to fight. On each floor there is a Trigger, and if you do not obtain both Triggers before facing your opponent on the seventh day, you will be instantly disqualified and Game Over. Each floor of the dungeon is relatively big, which is good since I like dungeon-crawling. There is also a thing called the “Martix Level,” which determines how much information you have on your opponent. There are 4 Matrix levels, so 4 pieces of information to obtain about your opponent. These will be obtained through events that happen throughout the week, and are vital to your victory. Your opponent may engage in battle with you inside the Arena, but it will last only 3 turns so focus on surviving.
The battle system is a rather unique one. You’ll only have your Servant to control in battle, and all battles are one-on-one. You get 3 commands in battle: Attack, Guard, and Break. The game utilizes a rock-paper-scissors system: Attack beats Break, Break beats Guard, and Guard beats Attack. In addition to that, your Servant will also learn skills. Each turn you and your opponent will input 6 moves, and the battle will play out after input. Each of your moves will be matched with a move from the opponent, and whether you deal damage, take damage, or clash depends on you and your opponent’s move. Let’s say you chose Attack for move 1, and the enemy chose Break. You will deal damage to the opponent and take none. Then if you chose Guard for move 2 and the enemy chose Break, you will take damage while your opponent takes none. If you two choose the same move, then either no damage is dealt nor received, or both of you take damage. The challenge is not knowing what moves the enemy will make, since the first time you fight a type of monster you will only be able to see one of their six moves. The point here is to watch the enemy and figure out their attack pattern so you can choose moves that will trump theirs. The more you fight a specific monster, the more moves you’ll be able to see.
With the enemy Servant, how much of their moves you’ll be able to see depends on the Matrix level. Naturally the more you know about your opponent the more of their actions you’ll be able to see. At the max Matrix level, you’ll be able to see around half of the enemy Servant’s moves. I thought the battle system was addicting at first, but then got tired of it as I played more and it became ridiculous at Berserker, where I had to retry a billion times and got owned even when I was looking at a guide with a list of his possible action orders.
In this game, you will die very easily. If you are not good at memorization, you will die. If you choose Caster as your Servant, you will die even more. If you are fighting Berserker, you will die. If you are fighting Berserker with Caster, you will wish you were dead. Caster is essentially the hard mode of the game, and I chose her for my first playthrough. I guess the difficulty is partially my own fault since I chose the Servant that can take the least hits. Saber is better at physical damage and can take hits, so she’s the recommended choice for people who don’t want a painful first playthrough. Fighting an opponent for the first time is like relying on luck, and subsequent fights are based on your ability to memorize their attack patterns. If you suck at memorization or get frustrated easily, you should probably stay away from Fate/Extra.
There’s also not a lot of freedom in exploration. You get 2 dungeon floors per week, and you can’t re-visit old dungeons. You also pretty much have to do all the floors in order so there’s a set schedule.
The story was interesting, and not very typical of an RPG (if you’re used to Type-Moon visual novels then…). At the end it felt kinda lacking, but I can’t exactly grasp why. Possibly because it lacks that grand feeling I like my RPGs? Or because they used a silent protagonist for a plot-heavy game, which detracts from the emotions I’m supposed to feel. It’s definitely not Fate/Stay Night level, and never gave me the “burning feeling” that I felt when reading F/SN. With RPGs I like I usually feel some overwhelming emotion at the climax and end, but my reaction to Fate/Extra throughout the entire game was just “mhmm, okay.”
Type-Moon fans would spot some characters sharing an appearance with ones from other Type-Moon works (although they are really supposedly different people), but judging this as a standalone game, I’d say that I didn’t feel anything for the main characters. The enemy Servants caught my interest more than the main characters. F/SN is not a chara-ge, but its cast certainly had more charm that that of Fate/Extra’s. Tohsaka from F/SN felt much more likeable and endearing than Tohsaka in Extra, even though they are the same character archetype. Like the plot, my reaction to the characters was basically “mhmm, okay.”
Caster is moe, though. She feels the most lively of them all, and in this case, being not completely srs bsns is what made her charming since everyone else is dull when serious. I guess my problem with the game’s characters is that there is not enough interaction nor interesting points about them. If a story is all srs bsns like Extra, then I don’t expect everyone to be interacting constantly and become buddies, but I do prefer characters with interesting motivations that last and remain intriguing all the way through.
The graphics for this game are great for the most part. The character models are large and full-sized, and there’s plenty of movement in battle. This is probably the part that reminds me of Persona 3/4, since that’s the only other turn-based RPG I can think of where the characters have plenty of movement from different angles and the battle animation looks very dynamic. The models do get pixelated at some points, but it’s not too jarring. The dungeon designs are where they got lazy, seeing as how each dungeon looks pretty much the same. The background scenery of each dungeon is different and look nice, but the paths that you crawl through are just floating transparent corridors on top of the scenery. It looks pretty cool for the first couple of dungeons or so, but you’ll realize they look pretty much the same eventually. It’s not a big deal though, since the transparent corridors let me see other spots and plan things out.
Monster designs looks pretty cool at first, but there are so many damn palette swaps so there are only really a few design for the common enemies (less than 10, I think). Imageepoch did well with graphics quality, but got too lazy in designing overall so they just reused the same stuff but changed the colors a bit.
Not bad, I liked the music, but it wasn’t memorable enough for me to consider it great.
Not a bad game if you manage to enjoy the battle system which requires you to have good memory and be able to predict the enemy’s moves based on their previous patterns, but it feels like the developers got lazy at times and the game is on the linear side when it comes to restrictions and such. Fate/Extra is not an easy game, and if you are the type to constantly mash “attack” in your turn-based RPGs then you will die very quickly. Unless you are a Fate fan I wouldn’t get this game JUST for the plot and characters, and even then I wouldn’t hold it up to the standards of the original visual novel.
Overall I’d say that I don’t like Fate/Extra enough to put it on my list of favorites or replay it, but it’s not like it’s a waste of time or anything so I don’t regret playing it. It was refreshing, but frustrating in the latter half.
Oh, and I’m really not kidding when I say the battle system is hit-or-miss. Do you think you’d enjoy a long, complicated game of rock-paper-scissors? If the idea of relying on memorization and some luck horrifies you, you will not like Fate/Extra. Also, if you are fighting Berserker with Caster (doesn’t matter which Berserker), you will rage hard. Be glad there’s a wiki for this game with the possible move combinations on there.