It brings me great joy anytime I get the pleasure of talking about a Musou game. A genre that I find exists solely to be fun, there’s been several great games released this generation. I had the pleasure of reviewing Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star back in 2017, and while that was a solid entry, it didn’t feel as if it did anything better than other Musou’s that were already on the market. Two years later, Fate/EXTELLA Link is the direct sequel to that one, and improves upon it in many ways. However, I absolutely recommend playing through at least The Umbral Star first, as the story literally picks up right where it left off at the end of the Holy Grail War.
Title: Fate/EXTELLA Link
Publisher: XSEED Games
Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Game Provided By XSEED Games for the Purpose of This Review
For those unfamiliar, the universe of Fate/EXTELLA exists within a virtual world known as SE.RA.PH. This was created as an escape for any surviving members of humanity due to the real world no longer existing. When you begin, you’re able to choose the name and gender of the character you’ll be playing as, and then are immediately introduced to a handful of characters we’ve seen in previous games that will be working side-by-side with you as a Servant. We have Nero Claudius and Tamamo no Mae, characters that used to hate one another but have since patched up their differences and are now working peacefully together with you, the Master. There’s a new face in town though, and his name is Charlemagne. Oh, and he’s a total badass!
As generally happens time and time again, war is breaking out, disrupting the peaceful life you’re trying to live after the events of the Holy Grail War. One thing that immediately jumped out to me is that the narrative moves along much quicker than it did in The Umbral Star. Those who may not have liked the text-heavy approach of previous games will surely appreciate the new direction Link moves in. It doesn’t take long after leaving the battlefield to get right back in to it.
While the story exists in games such as this, it really does take a backseat to the gameplay, which is what a Musou is all about. Fast and fun are the best ways to describe it as you pick the character you’ll be taking in to battle, and then mowing down hordes of incoming enemy troops. It behaves just like other entries in the genre. You start off on a section of the battlefield, and must work your way through different areas, capturing them or defeating all of the important enemies to be able to move forward. Along the way, objectives and missions will pop up that you can choose to complete for added rewards or experience.
Combat wise, every Servant included in the game has unique skills that can be unleashed upon the enemy. There are also basic light and heavy attacks which everyone shares. It’s mind-numbingly fun to just sit there and spam attacks and watch your combo meter rise. That’s why I play these types of games. There’s minimal amounts of strategy and thinking involved on the normal difficulty level, and I can just sit back and enjoy smooth and fun combat mechanics. There are several other difficulty levels above the normal one for those who seek more of a challenge or perhaps do want to have to plan out what they’re going to do. But for everyone else, normal works out great.
A new way to dish out damage is known as Moon Drive. There will be a meter in the bottom left-hand corner that continuously fills up during battle. Once full, players can unleash the power to increase both attack and defensive stats, but the real fun comes from the Moon Drive exclusive skill that can be further used to destroy the opposition on the battlefield. Noble Phantasm, the ultimate attacks for each Servant, also return and are more stylish than ever before.
In Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, we followed three different character’s journeys across the campaign. Here in Link, the story is much simpler in terms of navigation, as it’s one thing told through a branching path. After watching a small amount of cutscenes and dialogue, you’re given the option of how you want to proceed in the next battle, giving players a small amount of choice in the missions we are able to do. You can easily go back and do them all if you prefer, but simply doing one for each of the branching paths is generally enough to advance the story forward. Because of this, the actual campaign itself isn’t relatively long. Even if you were to go back and finish it completely, it can still be done in under 15 hours or so.
One of my biggest complaints with Fate/EXTELLA Link honestly lies with the team putting too much focus in to the new characters introduced, and not even in already established characters from the lore. It almost felt like they were an afterthought, as the story heavily revolves around Charlemagne and the other new characters. While this isn’t all terrible, it would have been nice to see at least some of the previous characters we grew comfortable with in the other game have some time in the spotlight. It’s made even a little more disconnecting because you can choose to play as the previous characters during battle, even though they aren’t heavily featured throughout the story.
Fans of Musou games, welcome to your latest obsession. Just be warned that if you want to understand any of the plot points or have any semblance of idea with what is going on, you’re going to need to do extensive research and at least play through Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, as the series is baked heavily in deep lore. That being said, this entry is a giant leap forward with what we saw in the previous game, and with some slight revisions and changes to certain mechanics, we could be looking at a contender for the best Musou around in future installments. For now, Fate/EXTELLA Link is a great game and exists for that core purpose I mentioned at the beginning… let’s just have some fun!
8.0 / 10