The Fate series has changed a lot since it began with Fate/stay night. The simple setting has expanded to different time periods, more complicated servants, to even a massively successful mobile experience. With Fate/Samurai Remnant, the series goes to Japan’s past to explore yet another adventure. Given previous adventures offer some insight on how to improve, is this a step forward or are you better off just playing Fate/EXTELLA?
Fate/Samurai Remnant begins with a brief introduction to the world. Players control Miyamoto Iori, a humble swordsman that is doing all he can to make a living. Eventually, conflict happens and his unusual mark summons a Servant, Saber. Shortly after players learn about the Waxing Moon Ritual, which is a fight to the death to see which pair earns a wish. With hopes of achieving more, the pair start their journey to survive the deadly ritual.
They Look Friendly…
Fans of the franchise will immediately recognize familiar elements and concepts. For example, the Waxing Moon Ritual is simply what Fate/Samurai Remnant calls their version of the usual Holy Grail War. Even though it isn’t the most original, it’s nice to see new faces. A lot of western players, including myself, will likely not have the same familiarity with this batch of servants, making them fascinating figures to look up. It also keeps things interesting, though that isn’t to say a few notable characters don’t appear.
Part of what helps this journey is the sense of mystery. A good number of scenes hint at previous events or deeper relationships that prevent the experience from simply finding and killing foes. In addition to that, Iori and Saber have a lot of fun banter. Even if she starts rather cold, they’re charming characters you’ll grow to like.
What a Time to be Alive
Gameplay is ultimately broken up into three distinct parts. There are dialogue heavy sections that help progress the plot. Besides this there are sections to explore and battle. Unfortunately, exploration isn’t one of Fate/Samurai Remnant‘s strong suits.
Part of the problem is the world feels hollow. Even if a wide variety of characters are present, sometimes even with some kind of expressive comment, they are just there. Walking up to them will make them disappear, as will running through them or any similar action. That isn’t to say there are no NPCs to interact with, as there are more than a few outside of any given quest, they just aren’t that common.
Combat is reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors, though effort was made to make things somewhat deeper than the usual entry. Most peons can be bested by alternating between light and heavy attacks. Depending on the situation, there are various stances that dictate what type of combat style you use. Some are better for a single foe, others multiple enemies, with players being encouraged to swap frequently to maximize potential.
However, at its core, these enemies die without much effort. At most you’ll need to counter charge attacks, though even that comes down to how much health they have. The average stage will throw a couple waves of these enemies before sending a more powerful boss-esque enemy.
These vary wildly in difficulty. Named thugs are generally underwhelming, whereas Servants require genuine effort to best. Unlike peons these enemies can withstand your attacks, forcing players to use some kind of defense. This can be avoiding, though in most cases it’s simply dodging to the side.
Effective use of this will leave them open to additional damage. Players can also take this opportunity to do a bit more, such as use a magic attack. Naturally, this isn’t the most refined system. There is a general window to dodge, though it can also be somewhat finicky. Sometimes enemies seemingly can’t hit you, whereas other foes demand some level of timing. These are usually Servants, who gain additional attacks beyond simply swinging a blade.
All of this makes for an engaging experience; it just comes down to what exactly you expect from Fate/Samurai Remnant. It isn’t completely mindless, though it can often feel like it is. If nothing else the wide variety of combos, Servants, magic, stances and more go far to make things feel different.
Perhaps the most rewarding sections are the occasional cutscenes. These are usually more climatic in nature, featuring powerful sword clashes or intense moments. Even if these scenes often lean on the samurai cliches, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a sucker for a moody sword fight on a moon filled night.
Fate/Samurai Remnant Review Verdict
Fate/Samurai Remnant: It's nice that Fate/Samurai Remnant works as an interesting standalone experience. Fans that love the franchise will gain a bit more, though newcomers won't miss out on much. At times it can be a bit dialogue heavy, especially during establishing scenes, yet that doesn't prevent it from being an engaging experience. It would be nice to see systems further refined/expanded, though fans of the EXTELLA series or Dynasty Warriors will likely walk away happy. – Mark
Editor’s Note: Fate/Samurai Remnant was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.