- Developer: Marvelous!
- Publisher: Marvelous!
- Genre: 3rd person hack and slash ( Musou )
- Release Date:19/3/19
- Platforms: Switch/PS4
- Reviewed on: Switch
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Did you read it? The above introduction, which is direct from the web site of the developers themselves. Did you understand whats going on? Nope neither did I and I’ve now read the above four times, played the game, and it’s as bat shit crazy as a bunch of bats, high on drugs, in a bag. ( Or as crazy as how the government is conducting the Brexit negotiations, but I doubt this comment will get past the editor! )
I’d really like to be able to tell you about the story of the game and how it unfolds but frankly even if I completed the game twice I’d still not understand. All I can tell you is you play as a master of these virtual uploads of famous historical characters, who fight other historical characters for some end goal that I couldn’t really work out.
Daft, crazy, incomprehensible story aside, what you do in the game does in fact make up for this shortfall. Some would call this a “button masher” game, the refined who know their stuff call it a “Musou game”, but I would call it; mindless, senseless fun. I’m a fan of this genre of game, especially the Samurai Warrior series. There is something very cathartic about slaying thousands of minions in the most stylish, flashiest, and most flamboyant way possible. To understand this genre is to understand this. It’s not about defeating enemies, it’s how you do it, and Fate Extella LINK, is right up there in the flamboyant destruction stakes, however there is a 2 to 3 hour grind at the beginning to get there.
The reason for this is the game is poorly designed, as within the first ten minutes, literally every type of combat move is thrown at you with it’s mechanic from the get go. So much so it’s completely overwhelming to remember everything so quickly. The design of the games introduction to the combat mechanics could have been done so much better. Even a few hours in I kept having to pause the game to remind myself how to do some types of moves again, even though they are not complicated, simply because too much information had bombarded me at the start.
It’s your standard stuff; heavy, light attacks, block dodge, power move, then super move sort of thing, with links to team members for super moves if certain conditions are met. Defeating enemies raises a meter, once the meter is flashing, moves are available. It’s nothing groundbreaking at all. Like all good Musou games, the controls were tight and fluid so I could express my inner slaughter monster with ease. On the Switch’s small screen however, with so much going on, it was difficult at times to see my own character. I also struggled with the lock on ( R3 ) but this is more of an issue with the Switch controller than the game.
The basic idea of a level is, you have to go to sections of a map to clear out enemies and take over the area. Defeat the strongest enemies in that area and it’s then a stronghold for your team. Enemies can and will attack strongholds you won to try and take them back which you have to look out for. They will also attack your leader and if they defeat him while you’re on the other side of the map fighting someone else, you will lose.
Enemy bosses appear, triggering cutscenes, and you and your team go off to find them on the map, defeat them, and then another boss may appear. This continues and you may have 3 to 4 bosses to fight each level. Don’t think you’ve won the level until the victory screen appears though, as many times a new boss will appear.
When you get to grips with your characters move set, it is a lot of fun to whittle down enemies and bosses, building combos for the coup de grace finisher.
Before the battle there is a hub world to customize your team and their stats, before setting off to do battle with enemies. Battles in the field reward you with loot, like healing items, speed boosts, power boosts and buffs to fight the next level. The more you play the game, the more characters ( called servants ) join your platoon. In total there are 26 playable characters in your roster by the end of the game.
The audio and overall presentation is excellent, up beat, with fast energetic Japanese rock music for battles and pleasant mellow music for other times. The menu systems, hub world and general user interface is also excellent and clear, however one big issue was the font size. Despite having plenty of screen to use, the font, especially during narration or in the written explanation of combat moves, was too small. This was nothing to do with the size of the screen on the Switch but a conscious game design of how much screen to use for some types of text. During dialogue, the font size was much clearer and easily readable.
The graphics, for a Switch, aren’t too bad at all and the system even copes very well with a lot of high octane fast paced action with many on screen NPC’s at once. The game is especially colourful, and has excellent artwork, but the star of the graphics is most doubtedly the over the top, bombastic kill everything on screen finisher moves, which are exciting and different for each character.
There is also a multiplayer aspect to the game. Take four of your best team online to pit your wits against another team of four. The game worked well online and was fun ( if you knew what you were doing ) but I had a hard time finding a match.
I won’t hide the fact that I am a fan of the Musou genre. There is something relaxing about coming home from a hard days work, sitting down and playing a video game. Some people like to slaughter zombies, play as their favourite team in sports games or online shooters. The Musou genre is all about slaughtering thousands of hapless minions in as much style as possible. That’s the entertainment here.
The problem with this game though is the story doesn’t drive you along to keep you playing. As the story is so poor, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re playing and what for. With Samurai Warriors I could play for hours because of the compelling stories as well as the superb action, but here with Fate Extella LINK, my play sessions lasted just a level or two before I became bored and played something else. Fun as it was, it’s only good in small doses, but with a better, more comprehensible story, this could have been great.