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Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is a hack-and-slash-style action/adventure game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. The game is part of the popular Fate/ series, which features champions (very) loosely based on various characters from mythology and history. While there are some themes of friendships and bonds in the game, the main focus involves players taking control of "Servants" and fighting against waves of enemies to take control of territory. While the violence in the game is nonstop, there's not any blood or gore shown on-screen. The game does feature sexually suggestive content, both in the dialogue and in the appearance of many of the characters, particularly the female ones. The game's dialogue also makes occasional use of profanity and references to alcohol.
What's it about?
FATE/EXTELLA: THE UMBRAL STAR unfolds in the aftermath of the last great Holy Grail War, a war that gifts the winner with the granting of a single wish. As the winner of the war, you and your "Servant" partner are granted control of the Moon Cell Automaton, a spirit-based computer that has existed since before human civilization (and the system responsible for the Holy Grail Wars). With little memory of your true identity, you're thrust into yet another war, this time for control of a virtual world with the power to alter the course of humankind forever. Standing in your way? Another Servant claiming to have won control of the Moon Cell in the Holy Grail War. And by her side? Her Master, a mysterious character who just so happens to look exactly like you. Now it's up to you and your Servant partners to try to maintain control of the Moon Cell while uncovering the secret of your doppelgänger and the truth behind your identity.
Is it any good?
This fast-paced action title has some deep gameplay, but the hordes of enemies can make it feel somewhat repetitive and boring. One person against wave after wave of hundreds of enemies, a constant struggle for territorial control, and enough fast-paced button-mashing combat to make your thumbs sore for a week. It's a formula that should instantly be familiar to fans of the popular Dynasty Warriors series. For fans of the popular Fate/ series, though, it's a drastic change of pace. Taking place immediately after the events of 2011's Fate/Extra, Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star takes the familiar characters from the Fate/ series and drops them into a virtual environment central to the continuing story. It's almost jarring to see how the fantasy and magic of the main characters stick out in a digital realm, but in a world of virtual reality where anything seems possible, it still manages to fit the franchise. But outside of the main characters, there's not a lot of visual detail in the game. As you cut a swath through overwhelming odds of enemies, you'd be hard-pressed to tell one from the next. Considering they're little more than cannon (or, rather, sword) fodder, you'll never really feel like you're missing out.
It's Fate/EXTELLA's arcade-style gameplay that's going to be the real divisive factor. On the one hand, the game is extremely repetitive. The constant button-mashing can start to feel like mindless monotony, and after a while it's easy to just get lost in the feeling of simply going through the motions. Players looking for deep character development and complex tactics are likely to be disappointed. On the other hand, for a straight-up arcade experience, there's actually a surprising bit of depth. Sure, you can just mash buttons until your thumbs blister and get through the bulk of the game. But if you take the time to expand your combos and master your timing, you can't help but begin to see a bit of elegance in the destruction you cause. It's far from perfect, and for some it might be little more than a distracting time sink, but it's still an entertaining experience that brings something different to the Fate/ series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. How do different presentations of violence affect the way kids think about it? Does a game with visceral but rare violence have more or less impact than a game with continuous nonstop violence that lacks any blood or gore?
Talk about mythology and history. With so many characters in the game based on actual mythological and historic figures, does it inspire players to learn more about their stories outside the game's fiction? What are some good ways to research the backgrounds of these characters?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Xseed Games
- Release date: January 17, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.