TYPE-MOON has an impressive variety of standout video game, visual novel, and anime releases, with their most prominent undeniably under the Fate franchise’s umbrella. Even before the mobile cultural phenomenon Fate/Grand Order, the series has always been acclaimed for its terrific characterizations and unique take on historical and mythological figures known as Servants.
Now, we have another wholly original tale to look forward to in the form of Fate/Samurai Remnant, an action RPG helmed by Koei Tecmo developer Omega Force. Set during the Keian Era, Edo Period (mid-1600s), a veiled Holy Grail War takes the stage, comprising Masters and Servants battling it out, leaving a substantial prize for the final pair standing. After the last story-heavy console entry, Fate/Extella, in 2016, I was entirely uncertain about what to expect in this outing, especially when taking its distinctly different setting into account.
However, after experiencing the prologue and first chapter, I’ve been left feeling quite excited and impressed, as this ambitious title’s gameplay and storytelling direction are far more intricate than I initially expected.
Throughout Fate/Samurai Remnant, you witness the tale of Miyamoto Iori, a ronin who unwittingly becomes a Master in a Grail War when a newly summoned Saber comes to his aid during an attack. Still, this supernatural occurrence isn’t all that’s on Iori’s mind, with an internal conflict regarding his past and current place in the world ceaselessly gnawing away at his core. When considering his struggles alongside the vast multi-faceted cast comprised of other tethered Masters and Servants and other characters in more supportive roles, there is much to take in and digest.
It quickly becomes evident that Fate/Samurai Remnant is a game that takes its time above all else. Most in-universe concepts, characters, and even some gameplay mechanics are given significant focus to depict a meticulously crafted world where everything and everyone is connected. For that reason alone, I can already safely recommend that those who aren’t fans of slow-burn narratives should likely stay away. Then again, if you’re a Fate fan, you probably know what you’re getting yourself into if there’s a strongly present story focus.
I’ve also been captivated by many members of the cast, such as the Rogue Servants, who are summoned heroes not tethered to any Master. They all leave memorable first impressions upon their initial meetings and provide notable assistance in select gameplay scenarios. Although admittedly, I’ve been most invested in the relationship between Iori and his summoned Servant, Saber. The two’s interactions and attitudes toward one another can be best described as gray. They don’t warm up to each other in these first couple of chapters and can be better understood as associates rather than anything else. It’s a mutual exchange of tolerance that I’m pretty interested to see develop as the plot progresses.
On the gameplay side of things, it’s too soon for me to make any specific definitive assessments, but it’s worth noting that the combat and customization elements are far deeper and more numerous than you’d think. You gradually gain access to skill trees separated between Iori and Servant, weapon customization for enhanced stats and various imparted boons, different battle stances, learnable spells, and even a grid tactical-like element. Plus, the hub areas have several side activities, ranging from NPC interaction to fights.
I’ve been enjoying experimenting with these mechanics and learning as I go, though I am concerned that a few of these ideas and concepts will start to feel superfluous in the later hours. Essentially, I’m worried about there being too much gameplay padding that ends up revealing itself as hollowly implemented to validate the title’s RPG genre tag.
For clarity, I haven’t been feeling that way yet; it’s just a preemptive thought bubble I tend to craft for these more ambitious experiences when there’s a lot going on, which can be a perceived lack of focus in the gameplay design. At least combat has felt smooth, satisfying, and intuitive so far; no critiques yet on that front.
While I still have dozen hours left to go, Fate/Samurai Remnant has already managed to hook me thanks to its thought-provoking cast, involved sense of progression, and potentially well-thought-out narrative. Already established and prospective Fate fans undoubtedly have a special experience in store here, ideal for those who recognize the times it takes a breath and lets everything settle for a bit. Here’s hoping the full game manages to retain this imbued intrigue and excitement.
Fate /Samurai Remnant is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on September 29, 2023.
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