Fate/EXTELLA takes the traditionally convoluted sci-fantasy plotlines of the Fate series of JRPGs and tosses it into a Dynasty Warriors-esque gameplay experience. It works, for the most part. But truly awful writing, some overly fantasized relationships, and somewhat unnecessary side systems make Fate/EXTELLA merely an OK game. It launched this week on PC and Nintendo Switch, but at a $50 or $60 price-tag, I’d recommend waiting for a sale. This is our Fate/EXTELLA review.
Fate games have always been a bit of a cult favorite, always with a bit too serpentine of a storyline for anyone but the diehard JRPG fans. I found myself enjoying the combat, simple and repetitive as it was, but the story? Not so much. I’m not one to cry for a game to be changed due to over-sexualizing its women or men – more power to the devs! And it’s not like Fate/EXTELLA is bordering on hentai. Low-cut dresses and innuendo are about all you’ll get here. Still, I actually rolled my eyes several times while playing because the relationships you (the master, male or female) have with your servants (also male and female) are just so terribly cheesily written.
The story’s not bad, the premise at least, but the dialog is cringeworthy at best. From the description: “In the digital realm of SE.RA.PH, the Holy Grail War is over, but the land’s new ruler faces challenges and threats from all sides. The servants now find themselves drawing up tense and unlikely alliances, preparing for a conflict that may tear SE.RA.PH apart…or destroy it entirely.” It sounds epic, sure – but it’s really just a lot of stereotypically anime hogwash when it comes right down to it. It makes those Netflix Korean import kids shows look like Shakespeare at times.
I love the relationships in Mass Effect and Dragon Age titles, and I love basically trying to sleep with everyone. Not even going to lie about it. But a big part of Fate/Extella is how you nurture and grow relationships with your warriors, and it’s just way too soft-core porn on Cinemax for me. It just doesn’t work. It comes off as poor spanktro-fiction, and I’m not here for it.
Luckily, the mechanics of the actual game and the occasional humorous dialog between the servants are all much better suited to having fun. And let’s face it, having a Fate game on the Switch is badass. The combat is flashy, well-animated, but rarely challenging until the later levels. There are some interesting crafting and skill systems in the background, but they too feel superfluous until late in the game due to not being needed. The Dynasty-Warriors like combat is a blast but gets stale in the typical hack and slack fashion. There’s little skill required, but some of the later stage boss fights can be quite a rush.
The most fun comes from the frenetic pace at which you must run from area to area on each map, stopping incoming invasions from the rogue servants’ armies. These spice the levels up more than I thought they would, and keep each mission feeling fresh through to the end of the campaign. It’s also nice, given the $60 price tag on the Switch, that you get all DLC – but it’s mostly outfits for your servants. Still, the game lasts a solid few dozen hours, if you can stomach the repetitive nature of it all. As someone who’s played more than his share of Action RPGs, I didn’t mind the repetitive action as much as I just wanted to skip past all the dialog.
Note: This review was performed on the Switch version with a code provided by PR.