Sometimes you just want to boot up your console or PC and beat the hell out of a gang of buffoons for fun. Whether to relieve stress or escape reality, action-RPGs can be the perfect remedy, and Fate/Samurai Remnant does a good job of helping me with both, however, there’re a couple of things that stop me from handing myself fully over to Omega Force’s entry into the Fate franchise. The developer’s recent steps into popular franchises have been relatively successful, and for the most part, my time with the preview gave me hope for the full release.
Now, I love a good story. Japanese storytellers are some of the most gifted on the planet, with Hidetaka Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki, Hideo Kojima, and Kentaro Miura being some of my favourites. The concept of Fate/Samurai Remnant is fantastic and revolves around this spiritual war between Heroic Spirits and humans as part of the Waxing Moon Ritual. There’s a deep lore that’ll do a much better job of explaining it than me, but both the plot and the characters are well written so far. There are some fantastic ideas regarding the ritual and those who walk the between worlds which I shan’t ruin here.
The main character, Miyamoto Iori, is a kind warrior who finds himself a Master, bearing a magical mark on his hand. His unwilling servant, Saber, is summoned from nowhere and begins to build a friendship with Iori as they get drawn further and further into the tale of seven masters and seven servants in the Edo period of Japan, preparing to take on and win against the combatants in an effort to take the grand prize of whatever their heart desires. There’re gentle moments between Saber and Iori’s friendship. Once brash and standoffish, Saber slowly begins to warm to her master, as he does with her.
Whilst much of this is done with dialogue and exposition, both Iori and Saber start to bond through combat, and this is where Fate/Samurai Remnant is sublime. You’ll start off controlling Iori, using simple hack-and-slash commands as seen in almost every Omega Force title, however, the mechanics start to grow somewhat when Saber joins the fray. Iori has different stances that can be switched between, and nuances when switching can benefit another. He can use magic by expending gems for a host of benefits, be it an offensive spell or one to regain HP, that can be selected by holding in the left shoulder and corresponding button.
Saber is also a vital part of combat, and for a short while you can control her. She uses the power of water to perform Affinity Techniques which refuel over time, meaning you can’t take advantage of her remarkable abilities. While there’re normal humans to battle, monsters will appear and can take a lot longer to get rid of. By breaking down their Shell Gauge with Saber’s power, Iori can swoop in once they’re down to inflict the killing blow. You can perform Link Strikes where the two of you work together to damage enemies, and more. Combat is sublime, with plenty of enemies to kill, all requiring different approaches to their skillsets and defences.
At first it appears to have Musou-lite elements, but after a few hours it grows into something much more. I thoroughly enjoyed combat, but I found the camera to not be quick enough to turn while fighting enemies out of sight or ‘behind’ the camera. Having to use the right stick to attack those you can’t see isn’t ideal, but it is something you start to get used to. Fate/Samurai Remnant is an enjoyable title, and between big fights and encounters, you get to roam across some beautifully designed Japanese towns and villages. It isn’t long before you leave the confines of his village and go exploring, and regardless of where you go, the world looks utterly beautiful. There’s not a ton of stuff to do while exploring at present, and one of the more frustrating elements is how you’re stopped every few minutes for a cutscene or chat with Saber.
It starts to become rather off-putting as every few minutes you’re skipping through conversations to get back to exploring or fighting. It does start to slow down, and in all fairness these are the opening hours of the game. So much is thrown at you that not everything sticks, but despite dialogue-heavy moments, Fate/Samurai Remnant does a fantastic job of drip-feeding new abilities and skills to you. You can make full use of the skill trees for Iori and Saber, sharpen your blade for added buffs at your base of operations, modify your weapons and gear, and more.
Omega Force gives you plenty of tools to play with, making combat thoroughly enjoyable, and another facet of Fate/Samurai Remnant’s gameplay is the conflicts that take place on Spirit Fonts. A map opens up where places are represented by spirit fonts filled with magical energy that can be harnessed in battle. You have a certain number of turns to cross these fonts, battling enemies and increasing your magical attacks. It’s a neat addition that I can’t wait to see more of when the full game releases.
Fate/Samurai Remnant is an enjoyable action-RPG that has some fast-paced and fluid combat that is always responsive and varied, despite some awkward camera angles. There’s plenty of upgrade options and a deep story that kept me interested with some gorgeous animated cutscenes. Exploration isn’t particularly thrilling, but the various locations are beautifully designed, and on top of the action and upgrading elements to the characters and your base, the whole Spirit Fonts and leylines add further layers to what you can do.
Fate/Samurai Remnant is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch on September 28th.