“No mater the era, deciding who is worthy through battle is the divine providence of man”
I have more “editorial” esque Gametalks being planned out, but I wanted to address the 2-3 games I’ve currently been playing before I forget anything important. The games I wish to just muse about on this occasion is Fate/Extra, Kamidori Alchemy Meister, and maybe Fallout New Vegas but that’s getting itself a longer gametalk so that might not happen. Seeing as though Fate Extra is the most fresh in my memory, I will cover that first here. So Fate Extra happened to be one of my earlier Gametalks back in the first few months of this site’s existance, and looking back on to it now, it was a “simplistic” talk on characters more than….a meaningful post. Now around 1-2 years in the future, after finishing the game 3 times and with improved writing skills, I’ll actually “review” the game. So Spoilers!
Edit: While this was meant to be short, I ended up analyzing and reviewing the damn thing.
There’s around 4000+ words waiting for you down there, so if you actually want to hear what I’m talking about, by all means, hit the button. So if you haven’t read/heard about Fate/Extra here and there, I’ll do it here for you. Extra is basically a side story within the Fate universe, with EXTREME emphasis on the “side” part. What happens is that somewhere along the timeline of the Fate Universe, the world’s prana begins to dry off. So in other words, actual Holy Grail Wars cannot happen, but that doesn’t stop actual wars from happening though. The game begins by the player experiencing a vivd dream with fire and destruction everywhere. While you can remember it, you cannot recall where and why it was. The Prologue begins with the “player” entering school like always and commenting on his daily life. You have familiar faces like Shinji, Rin, and Taiga from the original game. One day a new kid shows up to school named Leonard Haraway or just Leo. Things go weirdly for you one way or another and you follow Leo into the deeper part of the school. There, you enter through a strange door and an effigy animates itself and assists you along this mysterious path. As you travel this strange, digital area, you hear this voice guiding you and at the end, you fight another effigy. You are completely defeated by the effigy and you are killed, you then realize the bodies of other students all around you and the darkness covers your eyes…
But the game truly starts here. You relive the last few days of the previous “player’s” life by following Leo into the strange area once more. You take up the effigy once more and you are soundly defeated once more, but this time..you reach out for help. The mysterious voice then gives you 3 choices to be the “Vessel” of your power. Either in form of a Saber, Archer, or Caster. Whichever one you choose, your servant bursts through and defeats the effigy with no problem and the two of you ascend into the “Holy Grail War”. So that’s where the game begins.
It honestly is an extremely slow intro but the game itself afterwards is well worth it. So let’s move on to Gameplay and its progression before I tackle the oh-so interesting characters. The game plays out like a Highschool RPG, controlling your character through the classrooms, libaries, nurse offices, etc. You talk to classmates and others as you venture through this rather mysterious setting for the Holy Grail War. Speaking of that, this Holy Grail War has over a 100 participants and the prologue of the game was actually the “prelims”. This system is actually digital too, since the prana in the world is gone, a seperate system of the Holy Grail War is enacted by the Moon Cell and SERAPH System. It’s quite the complicated system as it deals with an extremely advanced piece of technology situated on the effing Moon.
Other than school, you have the Arena where you train your servant against digital enemies. The Arena also hosts some sidequests given by Taiga who requests you find specific items for you to find for her. Why do you train in here? Well the game’s “Chapters” are divided into weeks and you are given 7 days to find out about your opponent’s Servant (filling your information Matrix) and fight them at the last day. To even gain entrance to fight your opponent however, requires you to hunt for Cipher Keys within the Arena as well. With those 7 days to plan your opponent’s defeat you have 7 weeks, thus having 7 masters/servants to defeat. I’ll also add, the Arena is BEAUUUTIFULLL. While every Arena’s 1st floor will always resemble a digital room, the 2nd floors will always be an extremely well detailed (at least on the outside) map with scenery and even fish swimming around the area. The quotes usually reveal some things about the week’s Servant too. There’s even humongous monster-like bones in the prelim arena as well.
The first week is against Rider, the 2nd with Archer, 3rd Caster, 4th Beserker/Lancer, 5th Assassin, 6th Berserker/Lancer, and 7th Saber. The rules of what happens after is simple. The Winner lives, and loser is deleted. But why do the 4th and 6th Week have similar servants? Well I’ll talk about in a bit. The gameplay itself is a stylish game of Rock Paper Scissors and Shotgun. You have your Guard, Attack, Break, and Skills to use. Guard counters Attack, Attack hits before Break, and Break penetrates Guard. Skills can negate the enemies input action (hence the shotgun reference). Chaining three succesful attacks give you an Extra attack. The Master can also use items (only the Player) and use Code Casts to offensively help in a fight or buff your Servant. The Information Matrix you work hard to get about your opponent pays off here as it reveals at most 3-4 squares of the action they will do so you can plan accordingly. In the Servant Battles (boss battles) you have to worry about their Noble Phantasms while you gain yours in the 5th Week.
You have 3 different “Playthroughs” and 2 different “Routes” you can take with each playthrough. Saber’s playthrough is the easiest because of…well being a Saber and being able to finish off enemies in a few hits in the beginning of the game help accelerate through the boring bits in the beginning. Archer’s playthrough stands as the middle ground as he both utilizes basic commands and skills. Caster’s route is the hardest as she has the weakest damage, defense, and low HP pool. She has no access to her skills (being a Caster and all) in the first week and has the roughest beginning. But in the end, your servants will be extremely powerful and their different playstyles will become apparent. Saber being the whole, basic command and a few skills just to safe style, Archer’s mix attack style and his Projection resource, and Caster’s (lategame) broken stunlock spells. Saber’s NP increases her attacks and weakens enemy guards, Archer’s NP increases all of his damaging abilities, and Caster’s NP allow for one free turn of no manacosts. The plot itself is really just going against 7 opponents and the stories that intertwine with his emotional conflicts and his need to accept his place within the war. Your player character (gender can be chosen) has a very large case of amnesia as he (because I played Saber and Caster’s route) has no (obvious) recollection of who he is and where he comes from.
That is a pretty big drive for him to achieve to win the Holy Grail as he tries to find the truth to who he really is and too live long enough to do so. His Servant is the one that backs him up and supports him from start to finish. On the sidelines, you have Tohsaka Rin and Rani VIII who help you against some Masters but in the beginning of the 4th week, you will have to save one over the other and you have to make the decision. Both the girls surive but you will fight the one who didn’t get saved by you in Week 6 (hence the route and playthrough term).. Rani has a Berserker while Rin has a Lancer, so the current Week’s master is derived off the Servant Class you wouldn’t have gotten to face. Unorthodox but let’s get all the characters out of the way before I tackle the ending for you guys
- Protag: Well let’ face it, this is you. You’re a bit of a coward and have no information about the War but you are able to persevere to the end, congrats me!
- (Playable) Saber: Saber’s identity is that of Emperor Nero. Yes, THAT Emperor Nero. The one who went around burning Christians to light up his parties and the dude who set fire to a part of the city to make room for his oversized theater/mansion (who supposedly played a sick tune on his fiddle while the flames spread). So Emperor Nero apparently got turned into a woman this time around. While I could somewhat accept King Arthur being a girl (because he’s mostly stories) I had a hard time accepting Nero because of his actual historical background. Historical facts and creative use aside, I LOVED Nero so much compared to Arturia. Nero is energetic, boastful, full of pride, and always speaks her mind. Nero shares the common trait between playable servants of being wronged in her previous life. If you don’t know the history of Nero, he was a rather unliked by the Roman Senate while he was praised by the citizens. He was very attuned to the cultural aspects of the Empire and his attempts and plays and creative work were met with mixed results. However, his infamy in the Senate culimated when he was declared a public enemy. Nero would eventually kill himself (well he ordered someone else to do it for him) with his famous last words being “What an artist dies in me!”. While his rule might clouded with historical bias, his death remains the same. Anyways, Nero is quite the character and she falls in love with you even if you’re a girl or guy. I never remember Nero being such a swordsman though…
- (Playable) Archer: Archer’s identity is that of the Archer from the original Fate. Shirou/Archer returns to us with his snark being as manly as ever. Archer’s history is hard to explain but to put it simply, he pursues his dream (and technically his father’s) of becoming a “Hero” who tried to “save everyone”. On Extra’s occasion, Archer tried to save people by stopping a nuclear meltdown, which of course didn’t turn out too well for him. He’s cynical, snarky, and downright hilarious. He also makes references to Stay Night by having some more dialogue when discussing Rin and Lancer. Archer doesn’t really fall for you but remains loyal as always.
- (Playable) Caster: Caster’s identity is of the mythological Tamamo no Mae who’s story is biased in a sense. Her story is either her being an innocent deity turned human who is wrongly accused or that of a malicious demon. Tamamo was a deity who was reborn as a human girl who entered the court of Emperor Konoe and mesmerized the entire community with her beauty and wisdom. When the emperor became ill, a passing seer told that she was the problem and she fled from the palace. The Emperor sent warriors to hunt her down and after some reluctant/enraged (really depends on who you’re hearing it from) fighting, she is killed by an enchanted arrow and she is turned into a mystic rock that kills anyone who touches it. Tamamo’s playthrough is basically a route because she becomes a romance candidate. Caster is always cheerful and extremely energetic (plus she’s too cute) and I just love her so much. I guess it’s a trait among Casters to be very connected to their masters.
Shinji and Rider are the opponents of Week 1 and they don’t have too much going in their “plot essential” points other than to make the protagonist steel up and accept the fact that he has to kill to survive. Shinji is a complete faggot and turns out to be an 8 year-old hacker who hacked himself into the Holy Grail War thinking it as some sort of game (wasn’t too far off there). His servant Rider is yet another product of genderbend. This time being the persona of Francis Drake, the renowned English sailor who defeated the Invincible Spanish Armada. I liked Rider’s character although we see very little of her. She doesn’t make too good of a companion to the coward Shinji as she is brave, ambitious, and prideful. She looks more of a pirate than a fancy English captain but hey, Francis Drake’s a woman, I’m more concerned about that first.
Dan and Archer feature in Week 2 and it deals with Compatability with Servant and Master. Dan is a proud and loyal English knight who honors chivalry and only wishes for a fair fight. His archer however, is Robin Hood and he would rather win with some backhanded tactics in mind. Dan’s a pretty nice guy. He’s calm, respectable, and is a generous person. Robin Hood while described as being as an honorable rascal, is just more of a rascal this time around. The point is strengthened by Robin Hood’s gimmick, which is poison. His Noble Phantasm also places another, more deadly stack of poison on you. While this can easily be countered, he’s still annoying to fight against, especially this early on. Apparently, while Casters have affectionate relationships with their masters, Archer’s just seem to be…problematic for every master they have.
Week 3 reminds us the big questions of “Identity” that is ever present in the game. Alice’s entire theme is based off the famous Alice in Wonderland and its related works. She’s the least threatning of all the master/servant duo you face and in terms of gameplay, is the easiest boss fight you have. Alice’s servant, Caster is an interesting Servant because she is not based off a single person, she is instead an emobodiment of Alice’s lonely self wanting to have a friend. Playing on with Alice in Wonderland, the Servant (who looks, sounds, and is named) Alice is “from” a Nursery Rhyme. While Masters are usually “actual” people in the Moon Cell, Alice happened to be something akin to a “cyber” ghost as she has no physical body. The allusion becomes apparent when you advance further in the game because “You happen to be a cyber ghost”“
Gatou and Berserker/Ronnie and Lancer are the guilt relievers after you defeat Alice. You fight Gatou and his Berserker if you decide to help Rani while you face off Ronnie and her Lancer if you help Rin. Why are these duo’s guilt relievers? Well they just happen to be COMPLETELY insane. Same goes for their servants too. Gatou is a religious zealot who has convinced himself that his self made religion (that incorporates elements from all different beliefs) will save the world. His blindness not only turned his overpowered servant into the Berserker class, it also impairs her abilities. His servant is the one that’s interesting though. Type Moon fans got a small fanservice moment (not in “that” fanservice) as Gatou’s servant is Aruceid from Tsukihime. Aruceid’s abilities are completely watered down though (and thank god for that). On the other side of the insanity coin, we have Lil Ronnie. Ronnie is dressed up as a clown and is probably THE most disturbing Master. Her dialogue boxes are a straight up mess and you can just tell that she isn’t normal. She loves to eat…and she will always mention how hungry she is. Apparently, she ate her own pets and her own child (I know, WTF Type Moon). Her goal apparenetly is to change the world to make everyone similar to her and “love everyone”. Other than a creepy voice (Kobayashi Yu did a great job), her insanity is given more flair with her equally insane servant, Vlad III. Vlad is a Lancer and devoutly serves Ronnie, going so far as to calling her his wife. This week is really about survival, mostly because you’re against lunatics but thematics does play in at the end. Gatou is apalled by the loss of his “God” by you and more or less tells us that fervently believing in something doesn’t make it true. Lancer has better dying words though, I can actually remember it. He said “Even a life without sanity, so long as it is human, can be redeemed”. His master could only consume what she loved (her only way of expressing herself) but had an uncommon eating disorder. Her place in the world reminds him of himself and thus, felt a connection.
Moving away from freakshow weak is Week 5 with Julius, the creepy guy you meet in the beginning of the game. His black attire already gives him some bad vibes and for the first few days of the week, you’re servant is incapacitated by Assassin. Assassin this time around is one of the less famous names you hear in history. First we had Hassan the “father” of Assassins and then we had the samurai Sasaki Kojiro. Well, I personally knew a large majority of Fate Servants due to my years of reading myths and stories (and Dynasty Warriors will come in to play as well). Anyways, Assassin’s identity is Li Shuwen, one of the masters of the martial arts style of Bajiquan (a style that Fate characters seem to absolutely adore. Who else but the master?). Disregarding romance, I would have LOVED to play with Assassin as a servant. I seriously wish for a Fate/Extra esque Fate game to give us more options to play other Servants. Assassin is just so..not one sided. He’s conceded that his fists can only kill and does not try to anything more than fighting. I can’t describe it perfectly right now but I really love his character. Hopefully we won’t have to kill him in CCC. In terms of any message, I feel like this was just a precursor to the story of Julius and his family ties with Leo. However, accepting one’s fate is a pretty clear message now that I think about it. Assassin understands his flaws and only does what he does while Julius yearns to be something more.
Rani Berserker/Rin and Lancer: Another split week that depends on who you decided to save. You obviously fight against the girl who you didn’t save. The girls also share a highschool anime moment with you when the saved girl wants to eat lunch with you but the girl you will fight against prevents that from happening. The game tries to make who the opponent is a mystery but it’s pretty obvious because you fight the most irregular looking people in the game while the normal, bland NPC students fight eachother. Rin needs no introduction and her servant doesn’t get one from me either (not that I have anything against them, it’s just that they’re like Archer, they’re basically their respective personas from FSN). Lancer is Cu Chulainn and he wears a neon tights this time around but his overpowered Gae Bolg remains the same. Rani is a new character and references the Melty Blood character Sion Eltnam Atlasia (<3) because she is an alchemist from Atlas and her master’s surname is Eltnam. She also makes references to Illya and Iri because she’s a homunculus. Rani isn’t the most interesting character but serves as a breath of fresh air from our tsundere Rin. Unbefitting of her personality, her servant is a Berserker with extremely recognizable features in his armor. The servant is none other than Lubu, the legendary warrior in (well, before) the Three Kingdoms era. Lubu has his spear, the Sky Piercer and also his “feather” adornments on his head. This week is..semi tear inducing because you’re killing your friends here and goes back to Week 1 in that sense. Only this time, you’re killing a pretty girl who helped you through the entire war instead of a pretentious dick. In terms of gameplay, this is probably the hardest week with your opponent being able to deal crazy amounts of damage, plus their NP’s make it worse.
Leo and Saber: Leo is the “first” new character you meet (Well, Julius too) and serves as the last official master you face during the game. His servant’s identity is given from the very start since Leo firmly believes that he will be victorius in the end. Saber is this time Gawain (so we have Arthur, Lancelot, Gawain, and Mordred….and half of them are girls) and probably is the most “knightly” of out previous members of the Round Table. Gawain isn’t so sullen as Arthur, isnt a mad dog like Lancelot, and isn’t…a girl like Mordred. Gawain is very protective and steadfastly loyal to Leo but doesn’t point out his single character flaw. Leo is the “model” king of the real world outside of the Moon Cell, and his family owns an substantial percentage of the remaining world’s resources. Leo’s family believes that how the current world is operating is perfectly fine and they wish to prolong the stagnation. Leo being the legitimate child in the line of sucession was made to be perfect. Allow me to invoke a quote by Montesquieu “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them”. Leo looks down at everyone that is not him and his wishes to become king is but a path to self destruction. How curious that you would be the one to defeat him though, if it were anyone else but you, Leo would have won easily. The most “common” person that you symbolize can rise above the king that didn’t know the staple human experience of failure. Gawain realized this but only wished to see this crucial development at the end of their journey.
NPC’s: We have around 5 NPC’s that actually matter in the game. First we have Taiga who acts as your sidequest giver who requests an item from the arena. In return she gives you furniture for your private room. Finishing all her sidequests after your first game and doing so again in NG+ gives you the chance to fight Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai (who’s brokenly strong). Then we have Kotomine who’s just there to taunt you and regulate the entire war. We have Touko and Aoko Aozaki who are in the church to distribute points to strengthen your servant (while bantering against eachother) and last but not least we have the item vendor in the school commissary. There’s Issei from FSN but he doesn’t really do anything.
Your own identity is a constant factor in the game. The singular will to survive and understand is what drives you through the beginning stages of the game. Eventually though, you find out that you’re actually dead. The people who participate in the War are avatars of real people, but you are actually a “piece of information” based off someone who is unconscious. “You” are actually someone in the ruined reality who, due to a brain disease, is asleep in a cryo chamber. You were put in there because no one at that time was able to perform surgury on you and you were left forgotten. Depressing right? It gets worse.
When you finish off Leo, only a few people now remain in the “school”. Your servant congratulates you and Kotomine informs you that the Holy Grail is through the elevator. You can either train yourself for the inevitable final boss coming ahead or just proceed through the door. The girl you saved previously will accompany you. The background to the path to the Moon Cell’s Holy Grail is exactly similar to how you “entered” the Moon Cell when you first started the game, while you run past the glowing tiles to the glowing “Grail” in the back, your servant starts talking about your short time together and voices their amazement about how you have changed. As you reach the grail, you’re lifted on to a large plain with what seems to be like coffins littering hte entire area. Ontop of one large pile, sits a man gazing up at the Moon Cell’s core: The Holy Grail.
The man congratulates you for winning and introduces himself as Twice Pieceman. He reveals to you that he was an ex-master in the War, but due to an anomoly in the system, he is unable to use the Grail. He’s been stuck here for quite some time and explains how in the real world, he despised war but now in the virtual world, he see’s it as the only means of “right of passage”. He see’s the world’s bloodshed reflected on to the Moon Cell and wishes for conflict so the Moon Cell can harvest more data, giving more information to the world. More plot elements are revealed, and he ultimately saw you as the perfect candidate for fulfilling his wishes to continue the current world’s stagnation. You were the perfect example of how such a weak being was molded and formed into a strong through the harshness of battle. You will obviously have to fight against him and defy his wishes. He uses the servant Saver, who looks like and probably is Buddha. He’s not terrifyingly hard and once you beat him, Twice disappears like every other master you’ve defeated. Saver states although he didn’t agree with his master’s agenda, he admired him for his compassion. Now with that over with, only you remain as the active master in the War. What sucks for you is that you’re in basically the same situation as Twice here. Twice saw himself as the “administrator” for the War, thus he wasn’t, or rather, he didn’t want to disappear after using his wish. You on the other hand really have nothing else (unless you play Caster’s route, who feels like you should just stay in that field with her) to stay here. The girl you save will be able to successfully leave the War after you become one with the Moon Cell and be eventually deleted because it identifies you as a “defect” data. So that’s how the game ends. You die, and your servant sticks by you before you’re deleted. The girl you saved return to reality and try to find the person you were based off of.
The Week based system of chapters really made the game feel “forced”, plus it made you grind a lot in certain days. It made you prioritize what you needed to do, and while that wasn’t bad, it really felt limiting for the entire game. The whole game REALLY feels limited as the outside of the school becomes completely useless and the school itself is pretty empty. The Arena and the inability to save inside makes it more so. While the game for me was a very intriguing title, there could have been a lot of improvements to the overall interface. The characters did make up for it though. The people who would appreciate this game would obviously be someone who knows the Fate series and its style of storytelling. Only one thing remains though.
CCC BETTER BE RELEASED IN THE STATES.