Hey all, I’m back with a review of the latest video game entry in one of my favorite multimedia franchises. It’s my Fate/Samurai Remnant review. This latest entry in the Fate Series is an action RPG that was co-developed by Omega Force and Kou Shibusawa in cooperation with Aniplex and Type-Moon. It is published by Koei Tecmo.
Plot and Characters: The plot starts off in Japan in 1651 with Miyamoto Iori as the main character. This adopted son of the famed Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, one of the greatest swordsmen to ever live, is pulled into a battle royale with the supernatural and is saved at the last minute by a mysterious person after their hand glows.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. This is much like Fate/Stay Night in that Iori didn’t really interact with the mystical world and was much more focused on understanding the Niten Ichiryu style of swordsmanship that he learned from his adoptive father while living in Edo (what will become modern day Tokyo) while working as a troubleshooter for the local law enforcement.
Where things differ from Fate/Stay Night is that Iori is not fighting for a Holy Grail like Shirou Emiya was, but instead something called the Waxing Moon and has to deal with a total of 15 different Heroic Spirits in addition to six other Masters while fighting off monsters and dealing with the rampant Ronin that live in and around Edo after the Tokugawa Shogunate began.
The plot is amazing, and much like Fate/Stay Night has multiple routes or endings where things will go differently based on your actions. There aren’t many endings, really only five of them, but it was nice to see a very small cast of characters this time around for the most part instead of what we see in Fate/Extra or Fate/Grand Order. I won’t spoil anything, but the twists, turns, and various events that occur are all very engaging. They showcase one of the greatest strengths of the Fate series, which is that everyone is the hero of their own story, and they all do things for reasons they think are correct, even if they happen to come into conflict with the main characters.
Gameplay: The gameplay is pretty great with the player controlling Iori for the most part and going around Edo to progress the story, shop around the various food and merchant stalls, and take in the sights. Players also get to fight random enemies, though it’s highlighted pretty early on that Iori avoids killing any humans for the most part since he really doesn’t want to get executed by the Shogunate. The combat is not supremely amazing, with Iori being controlled much like a Musou genre character, or a Samurai Warriors genre character if that is more familiar, though that is just when it comes to the basic controls.
Iori is human and while he can fight against monsters and Heroic Spirits, for the most part he is always outclassed by them, which is a significant reversal from most Musou games where everyone but big named characters can be easily knocked around the battlefield pretty early on or even right from the get-go. That’s a major plot point as well as gameplay device, because Iori will get wrecked by such enemies if he gets hit which leads to you as the player having to dodge frequently in order to avoid death from some basic skeletal warriors. It gets better as time goes on, but even at level 80 on the normal difficulty whenever I played stupidly, I still failed in combat almost every time.
Iori being a Niten Ichiryu swordsman can switch between some combat stances that are detailed in The Book of Five Rings, an actual book that is part swordsmanship instruction manual and part philosophy manual on how to live your life. You start off with the Earth and Water stances, a defensive and offensive style respectively, and that changes how you both fight in the sense of moves and should best take combat in as a whole with each style being very different to control and having their own strengths and weaknesses that dictate how you should attack or defend. It’s kind of Zen, and I have to applaud the developers for actually reflecting the various states of mind that are detailed in The Book of Five Rings and applying them to combat in a coherent manner in the game.
Iori also has a very resource limited pool of mystical abilities, although they are on the whole fairly weak except the ones that buff or heal him. Even then, they aren’t particularly long lasting, which is very much not just a gameplay device but something that more familiar fans of the Nasuverse will understand is just a core part of that reality. And Iori can’t waste those abilities frivolously since he and the player are limited by the number of gems he has on him in order to power those abilities, and they can run out incredibly fast. So once again Iori and the player will be forced to fight much more defensively than most titles. Even in the more offensive combat stances, players will always want to be ready to dodge an attack instead of taking it head on while learning the various tells for each enemy, which isn’t exactly easy when faced with 20 skeletons and a giant oni that shoots laser beams from a floating eye over its head.
But Iori isn’t alone. Saber, because of course it’s a Saber class Servant that Iori partners with, is present with him in almost every fight and players can switch out to control Saber in order to better deal with enemies and be far more effective against the more mystical ones on a whole for a limited amount of time. At level 80, Saber is still a good 200 stat points ahead of Iori in everything, so this mechanic is something that will be used frequently. Sometimes, but not always, Iori and Saber will be joined by an allied Heroic Spirit which will allow players to switch out with them as well, and they all control very differently.
There are more mechanics, but for the most part that is the basics of combat in Fate/Samurai Remnant. It is very rewarding to be able to blow away enemies in Fate/Samurai Remnant once you learn how to do so as Iori, even if you certainly won’t ever be doing that to the bigger enemies.
All in all, the gameplay is solid. While there are some issues like the fact that upgrading equipment is very restrictive by today’s standards, with limited upgrading opportunities per item and that replacing effects uses one of those opportunities, it’s still a very good title and possibly the strongest Fate game to be made yet.
Art: The art is very anime, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how the Nasuverse started off mostly as a series of visual novels before becoming anime and then games. It’s not perfect, I think the fact that they developed this for the PlayStation 4 as well as the PC and PlayStation 5 really limited them greatly in terms of environmental and character model design, but it works.
Music: The musical score is pretty awesome, with various tracks being very climatic and ominous sounding while others capture the more lighthearted nature of some of the character interactions. All in all, it’s not Final Fantasy quality, but it is comparable to something like the Tales Of series of games.
Overall: A very solid and fun title set in one of the most popular franchises. There are some stumbling blocks, but all in all Fate/Samurai Remnant overcomes them and shines brilliantly with the story being the highlight of the entire experience.
For those who like: The Fate Franchise, action oriented RPGing, a solid adventure game, a really detailed fantasy world, well-developed mythology, good gameplay, an amazing plot, a really excellent cast of memorable characters, and really superb music.
Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, or the graphics not really living up to the quality that they could have because of being developed for the older PlayStation 4 console.