Fate/Extra Review

Title

Title: Fate/Extra
Developer: Image Epoch, Type Moon
Game Type: PSP
Download: 1.1 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Anime games are a part of the gaming world that is made for anime fans.  Lots of anime series have gotten video games based on their anime or visual novels.  Sword Art Online.  Naruto.  Dragon Ball Z.  Full Metal Alchemist.  Senran Kagura.  Many of these games, however, require some past knowledge of the series it is based on.  Games like Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment remains partially confusing if you haven’t watched the anime to know what part Hollow Fragment branches off from.

Among anime games, there are also other types of games.  Some games branch off from a storyline of the anime like Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.  Some games do a re-telling of the anime’s story, like Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z.  There are other games that are complete spin-offs, not connected to the anime in any way other than characters and cameos that appear in the game that originated in the anime, in some form.  Today, we have a review of a game like that.

Taking a look at the PSP library, there are many anime titles that are shown.  However, these mostly consist of action and fighting games.  One genre that hasn’t gotten many anime-based games is the RPG genre.  As we take a dive into the past, here is our official review of a very unique anime-based RPG, Fate/Extra!

Story

Story

The story of Fate/Extra is a story completely separated from the Fate universe.  You are a nameless protagonist whom wakes up with no memory of the past inside a virtual school full of NPCs that act strange.  Upon spending time in the school, you find yourself challenged and thrown into a war for survival, from which you have no escape.  With a powerful soul from the past at your side, known as a Servant, it becomes your duty to be paired with and take out opposing people known as Magi to obtain a mystical object called the Holy Grail, said to be able to grant any wish.

The plot isn’t incredibly deep right off the bat, but you will see the story getting much deeper and more interesting the further you progress as you learn about each opponent and about the Main Character, themselves.

The characters and the choices are what make the story unique.  There are two different routes you can take through the story, featuring different characters and boss fights throughout the second half of the story.  There are also several Fate/Stay Night characters included in the game.  Although they are different from their original incarnations, Fate fans can enjoy seeing Saber, Archer, Rin, Sakura, and more as you play through the game.

Gameplay

Fate/Extra is a dungeon-crawling RPG.  The majority of your time in the game will be spent in dungeons, running around to find items and defeat enemies.  While there are other elements in the game as well, most of the time will be spent within the dungeons and fighting through enemies in order to progress through the rest of the game and in preparation for each Boss Fight.

The game only has the Story Mode to play through, which puts you in the role of a nameless NPC whom chooses a Servant to ally with while participating in the Holy Grail War.  This war, consisting of seven week-long chapters has you going against a particular opponent each week ending in a fight-to-the-death to advance in the tournament.  The Servants you can choose from are the Saber, Archer, and Caster classes, each providing their own way of playing and their own difficulty and skill growth.

Going through each week consists or two main objectives: Dungeon Crawling and Information Seeking.  Before the end of the week, you will have to find two Cipher Keys in the dungeons, which are required for unlocking the door to the room known as the Coliseum, where you and your opponent perform your final fight.  Each Dungeon/Arena has two floors and on each floor is a Cipher Key to collect as you progress through the week.  There are also story events to be seen on certain days that may hinder your progress as well as the Cipher Keys not populating until certain days, so don’t think you can just go into the dungeons and get both keys by the second day of the week.

Collecting information is an objective that will be done throughout the week, both in the school and the Arena.  Your goal is to collect as much information about your opponent and their Servant as possible, to make fighting them on the final day of the week easier.  This can be done in scenes at the school in the Library, between you and your opponent, or by meeting them in the Arena and sparring with them for a few rounds.  This will all lead to organizing your information at the end of the week to reach the “E” level of your Opponent Matrix, bringing enough information together to uncover the identity of the enemy Servant.

You will also be able to obtain information about your own Servant, as there is also an Ally Servant Matrix.  Throughout the course of the game, there are conversations you can have with them in your Private Room, to learn about them by choosing the proper options in dialogue.  This will eventually lead to learning their true name, and unlocking their Noble Phantasm, their ultimate skill.  This is options, though, and doesn’t need to be completed to progress through the game.

Gameplay

The biggest part of gameplay is the battle system, itself.  This is a dungeon crawler RPG and, as such, you will be fighting monsters in turn-based battles when you’re in the dungeons.  The battle system is also what makes the game unique, as there is no other RPG this reviewer has played that is quite like it.  Although the dungeon crawling itself is reminiscent of the Persona franchise, the fighting system is one of the most frustrating systems in any RPG I’ve played.

When you choose your commands, you will only have a few options available.  Outside of Servant Skills and Code Casts, skills you gain from having certain equipment on you, there is an Attack, Guard, Break system.  Every turn, you will be given six commands, as will your opponent.  Guard is powerful against Attack, Break powerful against Guard, and Attack powerful against Break.  Your goal is to get as many commands possible done in your favor to do as much damage to your opponent as possible.  You can also get an Extra attack if you chain three commands in the correct way in a row.

The difficulty comes in that only some of your opponent’s commands will be revealed at the beginning of the battle.  You could go into a battle and only have the opponent’s fifth command revealed to you.  This means you will either be using Skills to negate some commands, or inputting commands and relying on luck to win you the battle.  While normal enemies do have patterns and more commands will be revealed the more you fight them, the same cannot be said of Bosses.

For those fights, unless you overstock on items and cancel out your opponent’s attacks by spamming skills, you will be relying on pure luck in winning your battles.  Even on the maximum Enemy Matrix level, you could only get a couple commands revealed to you.  Even with normal enemies the first go through a dungeon, one little round of bad luck can lose the entire battle for you.  This is the part that makes the game so hard.  That the game relies on luck or being cheap with skills, rather than tactics.

The other thing to consider about the difficulty is grinding.  Among the luck-based battle system is a collection of large difficulty spikes.  As you level up, you will gain Skill Points to be used to increase stats and learn skills, and a lot of that will be required every chapter to make sure you’re strong enough to tackle the next Boss Fight.  The Bosses are hard, regardless of your tactics, as they all have a lot more health than you do, and their skills are almost always devastatingly powerful.  Fate/Extra is no easy game, even if you’re playing on Easy Mode.

Among all of the grinding and going through seven chapters of story progress and dungeon-crawling, the game should last you about 20-30 hours.  This will depending on how much grinding you do and how much you need to do to prepare for each Boss fight.  It’s not long for an RPG, but not short, either.

Controls

Controlling the game is no difficult task.  There aren’t any extensive camera controls on the D-Pad, so you won’t have to worry about re-mapping those controls to the Right Analog Stick or worry about mapping anything to the touch screen.  You are free to do so, but the game already has a comfortable control scheme, for the most part.

Controlling your character will be done with the Left Analog Stick or the D-Pad, whichever is your preference.  The rest of the game will be controlled with the face buttons and the triggers.  First of all are the L and R buttons.  These buttons are only used in the Arena, and they’re used for controlling the camera, moving it around your character.  This is mostly useful when you’re running around corners in dungeons.  You can also use the Circle button to re-center the camera behind you and your Servant.

The rest of the game relies on the face buttons.  The X button will be used to interact with objects and people in the school as well as selecting commands in battle.  The Square button will be used to pull up a list of skills you can use in battle, as well as pulling up a Quick Travel menu in the school, allowing instant travel between various areas you need to go through.  Triangle will pull up the menu, where you can adjust your equipment and check your skills, and the Circle button will cancel a command or re-center the camera in dungeons.

All in all, it’s not a hard control scheme to learn.  While there certainly are games out there with simpler controls, it’s not something you’ll be forgetting as you play through the game.

Presentation

Presentation

The game has its ups and downs when it comes to presentation.  Visually, the game looks good for a PSP game, but not great.  The stretching on the PS Vita is very apparent when you’re fighting and playing through the game.  While most of the enemies still look good on the Vita’s screen, the characters and Servants have a lot of jagged edges.  This is less apparent when displayed on the PlayStation TV, but it’s still there and makes the game look a bit stretched.

The other downside is the dungeon and enemy layout.  Most of the dungeons look similar to the dungeon from before.  While the room layouts and item and enemy locations do vary, it’s similar to Persona 3, where all of the dungeons look like colored variants of the first.  The enemies also share this.  There are only so many enemy types, and a lot of them are color variations of enemies from earlier dungeons.  The opposing servants look good, but the normal enemies look somewhat bland.

The game plays well, though.  The load times are short, the game is fully voiced, and there is no lag to speak of, as you play through the game.  There aren’t any technical problems or glitches that we encountered throughout the game

Summary

Fate/Extra is one of the hardest PSP RPGs I’ve played.  With a luck-based battle system and large difficulty spikes, it will test your patience, be it on Easy or Normal difficulties.  Despite the system that seems somewhat unfair at times and the degraded presentation, it has an interesting story, plays well, and has enough Fate references to make any RPG or Fate fan happy, if they can be patient with the system.

7/10

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