Mythological Heroes Competing in Feudal Japan – Fate/Samurai Remnant Review
Fate/Samurai Remnant is an action hack-and-slash (and musou/Warriors) game set in feudal Japan with visual novel elements. It’s a really fun game with a complete campaign, likeable characters, and a very intriguing story. I was most impressed by the fully-fledged routes in this game with multiple endings and exclusive New Game Plus content.
This game is a spinoff title in the Fate franchise. It would help to have previous knowledge of other Fate games, such as the original visual novel Fate/stay night or the recent game Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, but you definitely don’t need to play them to understand the plot.
Playing the other games or watch their anime adaptations lets you see the characters that you’ll see in this title, meaning you’ll get extra references. But all you really need to know is that this game basically puts many of the Fate characters into a feudal Japan setting with yukatas and samurai outfits. Fate is a franchise that really has amazing spinoffs that look like jokes but are actually phenomenal, such as Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya (a magical girl spinoff) or even Today’s Menu with the Emiya Family (turns the series into a show where all the characters work together to make meals, they teach you how to pick ingredients and cook healthy, and have a good time even with the antagonists who are suddenly into cooking).
To explain the premise of the first hour of plot, the conflict arises over the “Waving Moon Ritual”. 7 champions from across the entire world and varying time periods from real life are reincarnated as servants to human masters, and these champions and masters all fight to the death for a reward that grants wishes. It’s similar to the plot of other Fate media and it’s not too complicated if you don’t get too bogged down in the details. Of course there will be alliances and betrayals as well as supporting characters, but I can’t spoil the plot.
If you’re a sucker for feudal Japan you’ll really love this title. I’ve been reviewing many games set in this era and it’s very interesting to learn about the culture. You really get to see everything about the feudal period. You’ll see factions of characters such as samurais along with political intrigue, betrayal and warfare.
You’ll see geishas, architecture, clothing and artwork which is extremely aesthetically pleasing. The graphics of this game is good, but the art design direction is really top notch and nails the feudal time period to a tee. It’s interesting to see how giant cities in Japan used to look, such as Shinagawa. I’ve visited that area for work and it’s basically full of skyscrapers and offices nowadays but only had small wooden buildings in the old days.
I really like the mythology of the feudal setting too, and rather than only having human enemies in the game there’s a lot of yokai (basically demons) such as oni, nue, and jaki that add significant enemy variety. A lot of games have been choosing this setting such as Nioh, Like A Dragon: Ishin and even Disgaea 7 which will release soon this fall.
The voice acting is performed in Japanese with English subtitles. Though it’s unfortunate the game doesn’t have an English dub, at least almost every line of dialogue is voiced in the game with the exception of a few unimportant NPCs.
The translation of this game flows very naturally and it was localized well. The autoplay has many settings and works perfectly, so if I’m watching a cutscene I can relax and eat while it plays. The 2D character portraits on-screen during cutscenes are very well drawn and characters convey a wide variety of expressions. I always laugh at the portrait of Saber stuffing her face in this game.
One important caveat to remember is that Fate originated as a visual novel and this game actually stays true to its visual novel roots. The cutscenes in this title will have characters talking and having conversations for a while without action, and some cutscenes will last easily over half an hour. I love the character development and the plot, but this game might not be the best choice for you if you can’t stomach lengthy cutscenes.
I’ll explain the naming scheme as well regarding these 7 champions. These reincarnated champions have character classes and they usually fall into a category such as: Saber, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, Archer, Assassin, Caster, and more. So you might find different Sabers or Casters across different Fate media depending on which visual novel or movie you’re watching.
I know I got confused at first because I thought this was their name when it’s really a nickname. Also, a champion’s true name is very special and is a major plot point which I will not spoil. People make memes about how Nero Claudius (an anime girl) in the original Fate looks silly compared to the original actual Roman Emperor but I really like the artistic liberty the games take.
This game is an action game, but it can categorized as a musou (or Warriors) genre game. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s basically a subgenre of hack-and-slash where the focus is on the player character mowing down numerous crowds of generic enemies, and this game is invented by the pioneers of the franchise, Omega Force.
I don’t really call this game a “traditional musou” game because the crowds of enemies are not that numerous especially compared to Dynasty Warriors 9 and this game really isn’t compartmentalized in stages.
This game instead has more of a story mode where you freely explore levels which are cities of feudal era Japan. There are set encounters marked on the map by red zones, but generally you progress the story at your own pace by exploring the cities and you go into battles, then you get locked into story events and when they play out you’re free to explore again. You have a house that acts as a place where you can relax.
I really liked this story-focused gameplay loop a lot more than a traditional musou game because I would often get tired of defending bases or attacking bases all the time on stages and this game has far fewer generic enemies and mini-bosses you have to defeat. Rather, you just need to beat the forced encounters or boss fights normally, and not in a stressful base setting at all. You can do the combat however you like and you don’t need to worry about enemies running away and the story is a lot more streamlined.
I found Fate/Extella to be very repetitive after a while because it felt downright tedious going through stages and defending/attacking bases all the time. I won’t lie, the sirens from old musou games when enemies would suddenly ambush your base would get really stressful at times.
Like a JRPG, this game has levels and you gain experience from fighting enemies. You can learn passive skills to increase your stats and you can learn new abilities. There are simple mini-games as well to obtain bonuses such as through cleaning your sword or making a wood carving of a Buddha.
You can also pet cats and dogs you find around levels. You can buy foods, materials and weapons/armor from shops when exploring the cities. You get unique dialogue a lot for feeding Saber and sometimes she’ll point out landmarks you can check with her for extra dialogue. You can dismantle old equipment to get more materials as well and you can upgrade weapons/armor too. I found the game to be very reasonable on the Normal difficulty and never found myself having to grind, I just kept my equipment maintained every few story scenes and was fine. You can buy consumables each chapter from stores and the limit of items is 99 per type, so you can just tank your game through the game with essentially infinite healing.
One unique gameplay mechanic introduced is the Spirit Font, and this actually represents what musou base attacking/defending used to be like. You control your characters across a network of nodes in a turn-based mini-game. You basically need to do an objective, usually defeating enemies, capturing enemy nodes, or escaping to a certain destination node.
Whenever your character and an enemy are on the same node a battle occurs and then the battle plays out like how it would normally in the game but they will have a time limit. If you defeat the enemy you capture that node. It’s basically a war for territory. There’s more and more mechanics introduced to the game as you progress farther such as being able to summon allies for help, having to get certain node icons to defeat shielded enemy nodes and being able to use consumables to use special effects.
In the game you can choose to progress the story or you can explore the cities at your discretion. There are many unique side stories called Digressions in this game which usually focus on a supporting character. They’re extremely well done and have the same quality as the main story where you see cutscenes relating to that character and play as them for a fight.
I really loved the protagonist’s master’s story with the geisha, it felt very emotional and showed the struggle of entertainers in feudal Japan. A nice touch is that the game would tell you if the Digression will be missed if you’re progressing the story too far.
One early Digression has a powerful boss and you’re expected to take him on later in the game’s story, but I ended up waiting too long and forgetting about it. But thankfully the game notified me that I was about to miss it, so I was able to do it. This game really has good quality of life improvements over old games.
I really recommend doing a New Game Plus because it has exclusive content. The main game has routes as well, and you can explore the other route you didn’t take on your subsequent playthrough. The game has very useful quality of life mechanics, such as being able to easily skip through text already read. I was able to play through twice and was able to get 3 different endings and they were very phenomenal.
The New Game Plus scenes, without providing spoilers, were really amazing and you get to see twists on the same old plot, somewhat like routes in the original visual novels. I don’t always agree with the practice of locking story behind New Game Plus and I’ll say it was repetitive going through the whole story again, but it was definitely worth it. This game is massive, and doing all the routes took me about 60 hours, but if you’re only doing one playthrough I’d estimate it’d take you 40 hours if you let the voice acting play out naturally. This game does have a few faults such as repetitive enemy variety, but the boss fights really make up for it. The gameplay is addicting and is really fun and the plot genuinely has many interesting twists and turns.
Fate/Samurai Remnant Review
- Very fun combat system, especially for a musou/Warriors title. You can set a partner as well and control them if their meter is full. The boss fights are amazing.
- The game has full routes and is 50 hours easily to complete all content. The routes are very detailed and have different cutscenes and the plot will be affected by your choices. I was able to get 3 different endings, all of which were actually really good.
- The art design and soundtrack are top notch and match the atmosphere for feudal era Japan.
- Locking a lot of content behind New Game Plus isn’t the best choice and it still is a bit boring to go through repeated scenes until you get to new content.
- The generic enemies are boring. I do enjoy the yokai designs for enemies but there could’ve been more enemy variety for the generic enemies.
– Brandon Harris
Reviewed on the PC