Fate/Samurai Remnant is the latest game in the much-loved Fate franchise. Don’t let that put you off if you’re not familiar with it, though – while it shares themes, it’s pretty much its own game.
Set in the city of Edo during Keian era Japan, Fate/Samurai Remnant thrusts players into control of a young Ronin called Miyamoto Iori, whose life is all of a sudden made much more complicated. Attacked by an unknown assailant, it soon becomes apparent that he’s one of a number of combatants in what is known as the Waxing Moon Ritual. It’s basically kill or be killed, as seven chosen warriors are to fight it out to the death. Although none of them will fight alone. Each is also accompanied by a servant, the heroic spirit of a legendary warrior that is bound to them. Needless to say, emerging victorious in the Waxing Moon Ritual demands both of them work together effectively.
Despite being developed by Omega Force, perhaps most commonly known for its work on the Dynasty Warriors series, you’ll not be traipsing across open battlefields fighting against hundreds of enemies here. Instead, this is very much an action RPG. You’re free to access various districts of Edo via a map, and each of those you’re free to explore at your leisure, finding items, completing quests or petting dogs and cats. As such, you’re largely in control of the pace of the game: you can take your time if you wish, engaging in side content and investigating nooks and crannies, or you can push on with the main story.
As you’d expect the main story here is a little bit crazy. While Iori is pretty down to earth, his servant, Saber, is less level-headed. It’s nice seeing the two learn more about each other during their exploits, and come to understand each other more. It’s their competitors that are perhaps even more interesting, though; they’re a varied bunch that each have their motivations and are unscrupulous when it comes to getting the upper hand in the deadly competition. You’ll cross paths with them regularly throughout the main story, and every encounter is an entertaining one.
The story of Fate/Samurai Remnant is rather exciting as it unfolds, then. It’s just a shame that the gameplay doesn’t quite match it. As you’d expect, you rarely fight one-one-one here – instead, you typically face off against groups of enemies. Both light and strong attacks are available, with the latter typically being used to finish combos. Adding a bit more flavour are a range of spells that Iori can learn over time, such as fireballs and the like, and also a powerful special attack that can be used when a gauge is filled. What’s missing, however, is the ability to block: here, you have to rely of dodging attacks. In fact, most powerful enemies, of which there’s usually at least one of in each encounter, can only be damaged by Iori just after they’ve performed an attack, leaving them open.
While it makes you consider your actions during combat – you can’t simply just go on the offensive – it can make fights feel a little drawn out at times. Thankfully you can call on your servant to make use of powerful elemental attacks to soften them up. If yet another gauge is full, you can momentarily switch to take control of your servant, too, who’s much more powerful than Iori. Factor in other intricacies, such as numerous stances for Iori to adopt that each offer their own benefits, and special attacks that can be initiated if Iori is in close proximity to Saber at opportune moments, and you have a combat system that can be fun at times, but overall rather repetitive and sometimes stifling. It doesn’t help that the camera often feels like it’s working against you as well.
Playing on PS5 for review, the presentation of Fate/Samurai Remnant is also a little disappointing. The visuals here are simply okay, with decent character models let down by some shoddy textures as you explore. Is all just feels a little last-gen, although at least it does stick to a smooth 60fps. Some may also be annoyed by the fact that there’s no English voice acting – we don’t mind too much, but it’s irritating to miss what characters are saying in the middle of combat because you’re too invested in the action to look at the subtitles. It’s just not ideal.
There’s a lot to like in Fate/Samurai Remnant for Fate fans, or those who simply enjoy action RPGs in general. The story is meaty, and with multiple endings as well as a New Game Plus mode available, some may even jump in for another playthrough or two. It’s a shame the combat isn’t a little more refined and less reliant on giving enemies armour, forcibly making fights more drawn out and challenging than they should be. Those that can look past this issue, however, will get a lot of enjoyment out of this latest effort by Omega Force.