Switch version tested
Review code provided
Developer Marvelous brings Fate/Extella Link to the Nintendo Switch and acts as a sequel to the highly rated outing The Umbral Star. This version is jam-packed with new content, upgraded visuals and refined gameplay. It also adds an impressive ten extra Servants to the original crew of sixteen that can be unlocked to assist in the battle against a new and unknown threat to SE.RA.PH on the battlefield of Lunar. Much like the other offerings in the series Link is a Dynasty Warriors clone and in a genre that has seen a slew of quality releases in recent times, we have to ask if this can hold its own and even go the extra mile?
Our story picks up in the aftermath of events that unfold in The Umbral Star, but fear not there is enough story provided for newcomers to the series and this game is very much its own narrative. The overall arc is a satisfying tale of intrigue with some slight deviations available depending on how you choose to progress through the branching mission structure that has been split into day segments. With multiple endings it’s worth revisiting to view them all.
The game itself divides into two areas. A hub world for you to customise and interact with your Servants, battle companions, by giving them new and upgraded abilities and the main battlefield mission events. Each Servant has their own set of special moves and a progression tree that opens up as you play allowing for stat boosts to be added. In game currency can additionally be traded to power up stats. Once in battle, each arena is split further into playable zones that are connected by a quick travel portal system. The mini-map provided is crucial for navigating to the desired area, it shows where the main enemy threats are and if a specific route is currently blocked off which happens at various stages. Mastering this tool becomes vital when the mission is to defeat a specified target while the clock is ticking.
The combat and control system implemented within Fate/Extella Link is one that needs to hit the ground running and thankfully we can report that the developers have done an outstanding job in this department. Button mashing proves somewhat successful on easier difficulty settings but as the intensity increases the need to master combos and special moves becomes more apparent. Once fully into the swing of things you can easily rack up thousands of consecutive hit combos. The right trigger overlays a modifier wheel from which you can pull off an arsenal of offensive attacks and by building up the power bar you can unleash hell with mindbending moves.
Between hitting the battlefield our story components are told by a number of motion comic anime-style images that look great and add to the distinctive visual. These are accompanied by decent Japanese voice acting but before you grab your beginner’s phrasebook I’d simply read the subtitles. As alluded to the visual direction for the cutscenes is absolutely the right choice for this game and we’re glad to report that the in-game choices are equally as good. Fate/Extella Link looks absolutely amazing, especially in handheld mode, opting for a cel-shaded effect which perfectly compliments the anime styling. Character models are big, bold and colourful.
As with all titles in this genre, there are times when you will find yourself being flanked and surrounded by hundreds of enemy pawns. Because of this most tend to be a generic, less detailed model, an army of T-800’s knocking at the door if you like but thanks in part to this there is no sign of slowdown or issues at all. Bosses tend to be bigger and more detailed with a unique design. There are plenty of items to collect and extras to unlock adding an extra layer of depth and once the main story is finished with there is a competent multiplayer mode to explore featuring both online and local functionality.
Fate/Extella Link on Nintendo Switch is a button bashing blast with an element of micromanagement that will keep the serious gamer hooked. With such a strong foundation it’s hard to get much wrong but this also means not a lot feels new. Visually pleasing and great sounding with perfect controls. Fans of the series will rejoice and for those looking to begin their journey, it’s a great way to start.
TBG Score: 8/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 22/03/2019
No. of Players: 1-8
Category: Action, Hack & Slash
Publisher: Marvelous Europe
Download link: eShop