Fate/Samurai Remnant (2023) PS5 Game Review – A Rewarding RPG for newcomers and Fate fans alike

A Rewarding RPG for Newcomers and Fate Fans alike

Coming into this game, I had no knowledge about the wider Fate universe. I didn’t know anything about the anime series, the original manga, or any of the other video games in this franchise.

To put it simply, I came into the game a complete noob with no realization that I was playing something that had ties to a vast array of material that has gathered a cult following since the series originated in 2004 with a Japanese visual novel and subsequent PC game.

Did my lack of knowledge hinder my enjoyment of Fate/Samurai Remnant? Not really, as I still appreciated the fast-paced combat, beautiful art style, and (mostly) loveable cast of characters. But I’m guessing those who are more au fait with the Fate universe than I am will be more appreciative of what developer Koei Tecmo and Type Moon, the company that started the Fate franchise, has created.

Available for PC, Switch, PS4, and PS5, the game is a single-player RPG that takes place in 1651 in Keian-era Japan in the city of Edo where a Holy Grail War, known as the Waxing Moon Ritual, is held in pursuit of the Waxing Moon, a device that is capable of granting the wishes of its user. 

The game puts you in the shoes of real-life historical figure Miyamoto Iori, the adopted son of a great swordsman, who is dragged into the conflict when he is chosen to be a Master.

During the opening section of the game, Miyamoto is attacked by Saber, a heroic spirit known as a Servant. At the end of the battle, she aligns herself with him, as is her destiny, and as they journey together, they fight to be the last Master-Servant pair remaining in order to receive the Waxing Moon Vessel. 

Thankfully, the game does a pretty good job of explaining what Masters and Servants are in this universe so if you’re new to the series, you should get a grasp of the game’s story. Admittedly, the plotline might not be as immersive to you if you’re not a long-time fan of the Fate series, but you should still enjoy the interactions between Miyamoto and Saber and watching their friendship grow. 

Gameplay-wise, this follows the usual hack-and-slash formula with a few magic spells thrown in. It might be possible to gain the upper hand in battles by button mashing while playing on the easiest difficulty level (Sword Novice). But if you play on normal difficulty (Sword Fighter) or hard difficulty (Sword Expert), you will have to play more tactically by reading the enemy’s movements and responding accordingly with your katana and dodge moves. 

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, from samurai to skeletal warriors, as well as the usual bosses that will give you more of a fighting challenge. Swordplay is quick and flashy with all kinds of moves and powerful abilities at your disposal, and you have the option of using magic spells to knock down the enemies’ health bars when things become a little heated during combat.

You are joined by Saber during the battle scenes so you aren’t forced to fight alone. You can also switch to her character when prompted to do so and make use of her magical powers, such as her ability to overpower enemies with a torrent of water-based attacks. You don’t get to play as Saber for very long, however, so you can’t always rely on her to give you the upper hand when you’re deep in combat. 

You’ll spend the majority of the game in battle but there are moments when you’re given brief respite when wandering through the streets of Edo. During these explorations, you can talk with NPCs, take on side quests, go shopping, and restore your health by patting the heads of cats and dogs. You can also find items that you can convert into skill points, enabling you to grow stronger and more agile as you play through the game. 

The towns are alive with the toing and froing of residents and the beauty of nature but the sense of immersion is broken by invisible walls that don’t allow you to move around as freely as you might like. You can’t even hop over a small fence to see what might be hiding behind one of the game’s beautifully rendered buildings, so exploration can be a little frustrating as a consequence. 

The limitations when free roaming aren’t the game’s only negative. Also aggravating is the huge amount of dialogue in the game, especially for those who want to have a more hands-on approach while playing. When the game stops for one of these dialogue sections, played out in the style of a visual novel, you do have the option of fast-forwarding your way through what is being said. But as you run the risk of missing out on valuable components of the story as a consequence, you probably won’t want to skip too far ahead just in case you miss a vital piece of dialogue.

Of course, if you’re a fan of the Fate universe, you’ll likely gain a lot of enjoyment from the lengthy conversations as they can add to your understanding of the story and the game’s protagonists. But if you much prefer the action segments of the game and have little time for background info and story context, you’ll likely become annoyed whenever the game slows down for extended moments of chatter.

Niggles aside, Fate/Samurai Remnant is a game that is worth playing, even for newcomers to the series. Every character feels alive and unique thanks to the expressive 3D animation, and the in-game cutscenes resemble something from a high-budget anime. The Japanese voice acting is top-notch too (don’t worry, the game is subtitled) and the calming woodwind soundtrack is soothing to the ears. 

When the action sequences do kick in, you’ll have a great time with the satisfyingly flashy combat and trying out various fight moves as you switch between your character’s battle stances. You’ll enjoy synergizing with your Servant as you take out the large groups of enemies that come at you in Dynasty Warriors-style. And when playing on the PS5 (I can’t comment on other versions of the game), you will also appreciate the solid 60FPS gameplay and the detailed, crisp visuals. 

Despite knowing nothing about the Fate universe when I picked up my joypad, I had an enjoyable time playing through the game. The dialogue scenes niggled me at times but as they added to the character development and overall worldbuilding, they weren’t overly detrimental to my playthrough.

Fans of the Fate series and Japanese action RPGs in general should give this game a look as it provides a mostly rewarding experience during the 40-hour+ playtime. As you’ll also get a few history lessons related to the game’s setting, this is a good way to learn something without reading through reams of textbooks. 

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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