Type-Moon struck gold back when they originally released Fate/Stay Night so many years ago but few would have guessed that nearly two decades after its release, the Fate franchise would still be going strong, offering countless spin-offs, fighting games, and an incredibly popular gacha game that has become one of the longest running of its type due in part to its writing and colorful cast of ever-growing historical figure based Servants. Surprisingly, a Fate game hasn’t been released for over seven years outside of a few guest characters in Melty Blood so when it was revealed that Koei Tecmo would be teaming up with the franchise to bring a new original story to capitalize on the series’ popularity, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise. So now that Fate/Samurai Remnant has arrived and offers a different take on the Holy Grail War, is it worth checking out?
If that intro sounds a bit off putting for a newcomer, players shouldn’t have to worry about that here as Fate/Samurai Remnant is easily one of the most accessible titles to those unfamiliar with the Fate franchise yet due to its more grounded setting within the real world and different approach to telling its tale. Rather than being set in a time-traveling series of events or off on a supercomputer on the moon like other recent games in the franchise, Fate/Samurai Remnant is set during the mid 1650s Edo Period where Japan had started to settle into a period of peace, with many samurai struggling to find their way in the world.
Players take on the role of Miyamoto Iori, adopted disciple of the great Miyamoto Musashi who trained the swordsman with every skill he knew until his passing. Iori has used his skills as a samurai to help keep the peace and take on odd jobs to support himself and his adopted sister until one night his fate changes irrevocably. After a strange mark appears on the back of his hand, Iori finds himself assaulted by a powerful armored fighter capable of wielding electricity and a young woman that leads him. Despite his best efforts, it seems like all is lost until Iori’s fate as a Master finalizes, summoning the powerful fighter Saber to his aid who not only manages to hold off the attacking foes but helps Iori escape.
Saber informs Iori that they are one of seven Master Servant pairs that have been chosen to partake in the Waxing Moon Ritual, this game’s version of the Holy Grail War. The last pair standing will find themselves able to use the power of the ritual to have any of their wishes granted, but when Iori sees the devastation caused by the powerful Servants’ abilities, he resolves himself to fight alongside Saber and put a stop to the other Masters to try and protect Edo from being destroyed in the conflict. Despite their resolve, things quickly start to go out of hand, with this ritual being far more complicated and involved than any of them, even the most vested participants, could have predicted.
Although Fate/Samurai Remnant is something of an action RPG at its core, it isn’t afraid of offering a very well detailed, extensive storyline that fits in with some of the best writing in the Fate franchise so far, including some of the most popular Grand Order arcs. As players progress through the game they will find that it tells its tale with a deliberate and elaborate narrative that makes sure to touch upon every element that a Fate fan would love while also explaining in detail for those who may not be familiar with the series. Sure, some newcomers may not get every reference, but longtime fans will instantly be able to recognize the numerous family ties, historical events, and of course the appearance of certain Servants that happen throughout the game, though even these may come as surprising as these little reveals often come with twists of their very own.
The biggest highlight of Fate/Samurai Remnant is the bond that develops between Iori and Saber throughout the game. Initially the pair are rather unfriendly to one another, though they quickly find common ground as Saber delights in learning more about the world and how it has changed since their time while Iori’s openness to Saber’s personality and interactions is an incredibly warm and welcoming one. It also helps that Saber is incredibly charming in their own right, standing right near the top of Type-Moon Servants as being a wonderful addition to the lore and nearly every interaction with them is a delight, especially as players learn more about them and their friendship with Iori grows in a believable enough manner, including the eventual revelation of their True Name. That isn’t to say that other Servants and Masters aren’t slouches either. The cast throughout the game is incredibly strong, with even the simpler characters still having their own motivations and reasons for fighting. It also helps that the Rogue Servants that players can recruit also have their own unique stories and interactions. While most of the Rogue Servants, and a few primary ones as well, will be familiar to longtime fans of the franchise, the game doesn’t rely on this fact and helps establish them quite well here in Waxing Moon Ritual, with a few specific ones playing notable roles despite their familiarity.
Now, it is worth noting that Fate/Samurai Remnant is the type of game to be played through at least twice and for good reason, as the New Game Plus mode that becomes available upon the game’s first completion offers an expanded storyline, altered ending, and even brand new scenes for players to learn more about nearly every aspect of the game’s storyline. Some moments are the same, though the game will signify this so players can freely skip repeat scenes, making it an easy title to replay and one that must be played twice to experience just how wonderful the story can be once everything falls into place.
As mentioned before, Fate/Samurai Remnant is an action RPG of sorts as players will find themselves roaming the town and taking part in missions and battles that will often pit the pair Iori and Saber against a decent number of foes. This isn’t a Musou game though, rather than taking on hundreds of enemies most fights will involve facing off against a number of simpler small foes with a larger more imposing enemy, either a large demon or a Servant, serving as the real threat. Most of the time, players will find themselves controlling Iori with Saber as an AI companion though Rogue servants can also be recruited to help in fights. As Iori, every combo string consists of a series of light attacks with a heavy attack that varies depending on when it was input into the combo string but the real depth of combat comes from Iori’s fighting styles and spells.
Earth style comes with a recharging auto-block that keeps players safer from incoming blows at the cost of speed and power, Water is a fast flowing stance best used to take down large groups of enemies, Wind that sees Iori being able to cast spells while wielding his blade, Fire, that increases with damage the lower Iori’s health is, and finally Void, a powerful stance that comes at the cost of his own health. All of these stances can also allow players to use Magecraft spells at the cost of Gems, usually obtained from defeated enemies, that can buff the player, heal them, or straight up attack an enemy.
Not every foe can be defeated simply, especially since despite being a Master, Iori is still a human. Many demonic enemies and Servants will have “Seals” that can reduce any normal attack to nothing and these seals can only be broken through the use of spells, attacking foes when they are left open and “glowing,” or using the game’s Affinity meter to call in the help of Saber or other Rogue Servant. As players fight alongside Saber, their Affinity gauge will fill up allowing players to trigger powerful highly damaging skills at will with Saber even offering to use these skills for free sometimes.
Players can eventually unlock the ability to burn a large amount of meter to take direct control of Saber and unleash their powerful attacks at will, tearing through foes with their immense power and flashy skills. Playing as a Servant is a real power trip, especially compared to Iori. This isn’t a knock on Iori however, as his combat is nuanced and allows for tons of in-depth customization ranging from skill unlocks, various pieces of equipment to modify, and much more but nothing quite matches up to the power players will feel when directly controlling a Servant. Unfortunately, these moments make Iori’s standard gameplay feel a bit too slow and generic at times, especially once Seals start to appear in nearly every fight, hampering the combat that persists throughout the game outside of story specific moments.
Outside of standard combat players will also find themselves taking part in Spirit Font wars that will see Iori and his allies battling for control of the various ley-lines that run throughout the massive city. Players will fight alongside Iori and their allies to capture fonts all while making sure to protect their own from enemies that, when encountered, must be fought and defeated. Players can make use of Mystic Codes that can be crafted and purchased as expendable bits of support ranging from simple boosts to massive sweeping node takeovers. These Spirit Font battles are interesting the first few times but tend to drag a little even though they give players the most playtime with other characters besides Iori.
Outside of standard battle, players will find that there are plenty of little activities to do in Fate/Samurai Remnant. There are collectables to gather, scenes to view with Saber, animals to pet, little mini-games to take part in back at Iori’s home, and of course challenging optional foes to take down and side-objectives to complete, a few of which only appear in New Game Plus to give those looking for extra challenge plenty to enjoy.
Audio & Visuals
With Fate/Samurai Remnant being released on the PlayStation 5 the action remains incredibly fluid no matter what type of chaos is unfolding on the screen, even with the flashy Affinity attacks and use of Noble Phantasms the game never stutters. The character models for the cast are wonderfully handled in great detail for all of the Master and Servant characters, mimicking their gorgeous looking 2D character portraits that are used for dialog scenes. There are numerous in-game cutscenes that look absolutely wonderful when put into action and the title isn’t afraid of using some stylistic CGs for important moments.
The title only features the original Japanese voice work which, given the setting and nature of the game, is fitting and the voice actors handle their roles incredibly well here, with returning characters seemingly featuring the same voice actors fans will be familiar with. As for background music the title features a wonderful collection of tracks that work quite well, especially during boss fights, but fit nicely during peaceful exploration through the town and back at Iori’s house as well.
Fate/Samurai Remnant offers an engrossing and exciting story that tells a unique take on the familiar Holy Grail War by grounding it a bit more in reality while still offering all of the fantastical elements that the franchise is known for. By being both accessible to newcomers and offering plenty for longtime fans of the franchise, Fate/Samurai Remnant has something for everyone in its story while the action RPG combat is a bit on the simpler side when controlling Iori, it really opens up when Servants are available. Between this level of action and attention to detail to craft a stellar story with interesting characters, Fate/Samurai Remnant is a compelling action game no matter your familiarity with Type-Moon’s works.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.