Fate/EXTELLA LINK is simply a match made in heaven… and quite literally. Developed with the core mechanics of a Musou-type game and a splash of flashy special attacks and animations. It delivers an astounding gameplay experience between history’s greatest warriors and mankind’s gods and goddesses.
The game continues after the events of the previous game, Umbral Star. And with it comes with its own set of problems in the form of context. Players who wish to jump into the fray may more often than not find themselves scratching more than just their heads as they sweep through its core campaign of 28 total story missions following the conflict between you, the master, along with your trusty servants against Rex Magnus and his goons of assimilated warriors. It takes you on a stroll between diverse battlefields as your chosen warrior as you blaze through countless goons and foolhardy servants wishing to cross blades. However what I find intriguing with its setup is its multiple paths and options towards a different outcome.
There’s a total of twenty six playable characters at launch and that includes characters from the previous games like Nero Claudius and Tamamo no Mae. Additionally, players will be rewarded by forging stronger bonds with the servants, making it a worthy time investment to help you in battle or unlock alternate costumes and additional conversations. With your new companion, Charlemagne, you will also gain access to a central hub as your base of operations similar to the floating fortress seen in Fate/Apocrypha, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This provides a nice way to move around and despite its small size, it just felt right for the few interactables like the servants that roam it and the three rooms with its own functionalities.
On Door Number 1, My Room, you’ll have access to conversations with your chosen servant, the option to change active servants and customize them to your needs. Whether it’s installing skills, assigning the special attacks, choosing their costumes or upgrading their levels through the power of cash! Virtual cash that is. This is where you’ll also use said virtual cash into crafting new loadouts known as Mystic Codes that can provide buffs or heal when needed as well as synthesizing install skills to create better versions of them.
On Door Number 3, because the other is pretty much the same door as number one on a different layout with far less useful options, we have the Strategy Room. This is where all the good stuffs happen. Meaning you’ll be assigning your two support goons to help you in battle, assign side missions to increase a servant’s bond levels as well as customize the servant similar to My Room and where you’ll also be required to be in to start the stage battles.
Its combat is fairly decent but addictively fun. Despite not a huge fan of Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors or Warriors Orochi for that matter, Fate/EXTELLA LINK has enough flare and spunk to keep me entertained for the entirety of its main and extra content. Boasting with flashy move sets and fast and frantic combat, there’s really never a dull moment where you can just sit back and relax. Its constant downpour of mission objectives kept my eyes glued to the screen even if that screen is hindered by an overly large mini… if you can even call it a “mini” map. Its lack of UI downscaling options leave me with just the center of the screen without a cluttered mess popping left and right, up and down. Going back to the action, the gameplay is simple. You and your fellow servants fend off invaders, meet certain objectives and take control of the entirety of the stage with a mix of light and heavy attacks as well as flashy moves and noble phantasms for greater effect until the boss appears.
Meanwhile the introduced multiplayer mode, lets you and your friends, strangers or even with the AI to battle it out on a 4 vs. 4 King of the Hill game mode on 5 different stages. Which is just blatantly fun at its simplest form. But with some core mechanics changing for the better. Items like Mystic Codes are limited, sector clearing Noble Phantasms aren’t as spammable like in the single-player content and the addition of class-based towers that provide team buffs that can be activated by the specified class. Making a team full of Sabers or Casters can be on a disadvantage when towers of different classes are present until deactivated.
Visually, it’s a fine wine with all the bells and whistles if wine actually has the bells or the whistles to accompany it. The art style in its visual novel storytelling however felt awkward to say the least. I simply can’t find its charm and with mouth animations for Rex Magnus to be horrid beyond belief. Although, it’s environmental stages and the 3D character models that take the center stage which makes up for it tenfold. It may not have a lot of variation with its stages nor the amount of characters like a Warriors Orochi game but it certainly delivers an over-the-top high-octane gameplay with its fantastic visual effects and animations.
Musou-styled games were never my thing. Flashy combat effects, fun and frantic button-mashing with cute and cool looking characters is however. But to say that this is a Musou is probably an insult to the genre. As it is both a Musou and at the same time is not. Armed with special moves, it reimagines territorial conquest as it mixes in both the fun and over-the-top finishers to make the game look cooler than it already is. It is not the most easily accessible game to get into though, for its history with previous games go in line with how the game turns how it did. But if there’s one thing I know, I wouldn’t even fucking care, for its gameplay is enough to keep the game entertaining as it is.