Fate/Samurai Remnant

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2023


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Switch/PS5/PS4/PC Preview - 'Fate/Samurai Remnant'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 18, 2023 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Fate/Samurai Remnant is an Action/RPG where a battle between seven pairs of Masters and Servants is about to begin in Edo Period Japan!

The Fate manga series started its video game life in the visual novel genre on the PC, but it had to be toned down to be in an acceptable state for its initial console release. Since then, the series has gone on to occupy other genres, like fighting and tactical RPGs. When we heard that the next game, Fate/Samurai Remnant, would be developed by Omega Force, we thought this would be a Musou-style game, much like Fate/Extella. It's surprising that it isn't, and we had a chance to check out a preview build to see what kind of approach the development team is taking in this outing.

Fate/Samurai Remnant takes place in the Edo period of Japan instead of the present day or future, like the other entries. You play the role of Miyamoto Iori, a young swordsman who gets by in the small section of Asakusa doing hired work for the constable. After a brawl where one of the ronin notices that he has a strange mark on his hand, he is attacked by an army of ninjas and a large man in a suit of samurai armor. Before being taken down, he is saved by a mysterious woman named Saber. He learns that he is unwittingly placed in the Waxing Moon Ritual, also known as the Holy Grail War, where he and Saber need to hunt down and kill the six other masters to have their wishes granted. The plot isn't related to any of the previous manga or anime stories, which makes it accessible to those who are unfamiliar with the franchise. Those who are fans of Fate will get the benefit of knowing about general ideas and character names that the series has carried over from its various incarnations, but the previous knowledge isn't necessary for everyone else.

The gameplay might initially make you think that Fate/Samurai Remnant is in the same vein as Omega Force's Musou series. It's fast, and the game tends to throw enemies at you in fairly large groups, while the combo system relies on stringing together light and heavy attacks. It's different because the normal enemies take more than a few hits before going down, and some of those enemies block a number of attacks. You can use strong attacks to prevent enemies from charging up their powerful attacks. You can also unleash a few gem-related attacks, like throwing fireballs, and once you have Saber by your side, you can call on her to unleash power attacks and initiate combos. It feels like a good evolution of what Omega Force has done in the past, especially since combat is restricted to smaller areas instead of big, sprawling battlefields.

As far as RPG elements go, it isn't as heavy handed as expected. The standard XP system increases basic stats when leveling up. New abilities and stat buffs open up once you acquire the points specific to that system. You can also carry healing items to be used at any time. One of the classic RPG elements that few may have expected is the presence of towns. Everything from shopkeepers to side-quest givers are present, as are random bits of dialogue. The towns are brimming with people, and while you can't talk to them all, it provides a good idea of how populated the places are. The town is your battleground, so you aren't going to fight random mobs in the wilderness, and you're never too far away from shops in case the aftermath of a fight leaves you reeling.

Despite the action-RPG elements that have been woven into the game, it retains much of its visual novel roots, and this is where a good chunk of the preview build was spent. Unlike some visual novels and other RPGs, you don't have to worry about making choices, as most interactions involve hitting a button to move to the next line of dialogue. You can set the game to display as slow or fast as you want, and you can also have the game automatically move the conversation forward once the on-screen dialogue has been spoken. You can also skip the conversations, but the story is interesting enough that you might not want to do so unless you're on a second run or don't care about the narrative.

The scenes take a very long time. By our rough estimation, the preview build had well over two-and-a-half hours of its four-hour experience spent on cut scenes. If you set the game to have the scenes flow without controller interference, you will run into instances where the scenes take so long that wireless controllers might initiate their sleep mode. If you've been a fan of the games for a while, you might be fine with this, but newcomers will have to deal with it, especially since the scenes are rarely filler material.

The overall presentation is good. The character models are done in an anime style that looks great standing still and fine in motion, as some of the transitions are quick instead of smooth. The environments sport some blurry textures, but the more impressive part comes from the number of people in the towns that make every locale look crowded. Those people lack collision, but it looks nice enough the first time you see it, and they also have some good facial animations. The soundtrack is great, as are the vocal performances, which are completely done in Japanese with no option for English.

Steam Deck owners will find that the game runs on the device with no compromises, a welcome surprise since the last game from Koei Tecmo, Wild Hearts, had issues with the video cut scenes not running due to incompatible codecs. The game hits a maximum of 1280x720, which still looks good. The frame rate fluctuates wildly between 30-60fps, depending on what's on-screen. Take a sleepy little village or a fight in an empty section of town, and the frame rate hovers in the mid 50fps range, making combat feel responsive. Go to your hometown, and the game drops to 30fps but runs in slow motion until you get somewhere that isn't bustling with people. The battery life from a full charge averages a little less than two hours, which is the normal average for big games. The interesting thing is that the game has everything preset to high on all options, so you can improve frame rates and battery time if you drop the various graphical options to low.

So far, Fate/Samurai Remnant is proving to be a very interesting action-RPG. The action is nice, thanks to the fast action and high number of combos employed alongside some special moves, while the RPG section has enough depth to keep the action interesting while you level up and add more skills to your players. The visual novel-style cut scenes might run a touch long for some people's liking, but at least the story is fascinating enough with likable characters to drive it along. The game releases on Sept. 29, 2023, while this is a late preview build, we are curious to see if the final version maintains the experience.

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