Fate/Samurai Remnant is the latest action RPG developed by Omega Force, and it’s the latest title in the Warriors series the company is known for. Type-Moon played a supervisory role in the creation of the game, while Koei Tecmo handled development. While I was surprised to hear that the two companies would be working together, it became crystal clear to me once I actually got my hands on the game that it really is the latest Fate title, showing plenty of the interactions and bonds depicted through free-for-all battles that make the series so appealing.
This article is a hands-on report by a fan of the Fate series, and by turn Type-Moon, after about eight hours of play on the Steam edition demo, up to partway through the first chapter. I played on the Sword Fighter difficulty, which is equivalent to normal. Also keep in mind that this was an in-development demo, so there may be changes to details in the final release.
A story that even newcomers will enjoy
Fate/Samurai Remnant Screenshots
The Fate series is one that has been going ever since Fate/stay night, a visual novel released in 2004. It depicts heroes from various legends in temporary bodies as Servants who fight in a battle royale known as the Holy Grail War together with their Masters. This title takes place in a new setting, the fourth year of Japan’s Keian Era (1651) in the city of Edo (now Tokyo). There, a Holy Grail War known as the Waxing Moon Ritual is held in pursuit of the Waxing Moon, a device capable of granting any wish. The story begins when Miyamoto Iori, adopted son and apprentice of the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, is chosen to be a Master, bringing an end to the days he spent with his foster sister Ogasawara Kaya.
In the demo, Iori learns about the details of the Waxing Moon Ritual from Takao Dayu, who works with Berserker. In exchange, he must promise to provide information on the other pairings and goes to look for Yui Shousetsu, who has previously attacked him. In the introduction to the game, our protagonist is suddenly attacked by a Servant at his home before successfully summoning Saber at the last possible moment. A reference to the initial part of Fate/stay night, this game’s prologue will be a familiar chain of events to fans of the series.
For those new to the series, the opening story events make sure to properly explain what Masters and Servants are in this universe, ensuring that understanding the story won’t be a stumbling point. In addition, there are elements scattered throughout the game that will bring a smile to the face of a Fate fan, though it won’t hinder your enjoyment of the game if you don’t pick up on them. For example, I felt like there were many references paying homage to previous titles, such as Iori using the same Jewel Magecraft as the Tohsaka family.
Fun battles, even if action isn’t your thing
Some Fate series fans out there may have negative feelings towards action games, but I felt that this one had both simple controls and rewarding battle systems. To begin with, the game has three levels of difficulty: Sword Novice (easy), Sword Fighter (normal), and Sword Expert (hard). I suggest choosing whatever option meets your level of ability, such as Swordsman for those who dislike action but want to focus on the story, and Master Swordsman for those who want to enjoy challenging battles alongside the story. You can change the difficulty at any time.
The battle system feels like a solid action game implementation of the cooperative Master and Servant battles that make the series shine. In general, players control the Master, Miyamoto Iori, while your Servant battles automatically. While a lot of games have been released in the Fate series with action and RPG elements, many of them have you controlling a Servant in battle, making this game where Master and Servant fight together feel like something different.
Players can combine regular and powerful attacks to chain up to six techniques in a row, providing a variety of action. Iori has five stances (combat styles) that he can switch between at any time. Using one stance for long enough in battle places Iori in a state where he emits a light called an Afterglow. Switching stances in this state provides effects, such as increased attack speed by switching to Water Stance, or reduced flinch and damage received from enemies by switching to Earth Stance. Additional effects are activated based on the stance you’re switching from, making this a system that provides an advantage in battles to those who think about how they chain together stances.
Successfully avoiding an attack at the perfect moment will slow down time, activate a counterattack called a Riposte, and place you in the Afterglow state. It’s designed in a way where the different systems organically synergize with one another to create satisfying battles. While you can’t win just by mashing buttons, the challenge isn’t at such a high level that you need to make full use of the game’s systems just to get through it thanks to Saber automatically slicing down your enemies as well.
If Iori deals damage to enemies and builds his Valor Strike Gauge, you can then activate his special Valor Strike technique. While powerful enemies have a Shell Gauge that blocks against Iori’s regular attacks, they can still be damaged by Iori’s Magecraft as well as Affinity Technique combination attacks with his Servant. Filling Iori’s Substitution Gauge with his Servant and switching controls will temporarily increase his Servant’s abilities and allow you to take down opponents without having to worry about their Shell Gauge. I was able to savor that feeling of being an unstoppable fighter that the Warriors series is known for when I controlled the Servant and unleashed thrilling attacks with showy effects.
Both the Shell Gauge as well as the contrast between controlling Iori and his Servant work to depict the world of the game where Masters are generally no match for Servants. At the same time, the battle systems also reflect the battles of wits in the series, where upsets can happen with the right amount of preparation, smart enough planning, and constant thought, making it a truly Fate-like cooperative action game.
Explore the streets of Edo
This title in the series allows you to freely explore the towns of Edo. There’s plenty of variation between its different streets that are depicted in a way that’s true to history, from the brilliant cherry blossoms of the Yoshiwara pleasure district to the freak shows and spectacles lining Okachimachi. Just going around these towns lets you bask in this history.
The voracious Saber will react to food stalls you find while exploring, triggering mini-events that show him gradually growing closer to Iori as he begs for food and more. I was also happy to find that you can recover your health by showing affection to cats and dogs. Just like real life.
You’ll also find items that can be converted into skill points scattered here and there, as well as Local Trials achievements that will give you rewards by meeting conditions like picking up specific items or talking to people in town. This means your characters will grow stronger the more you walk around, and so you’ll naturally find yourself motivated to explore thanks to the synergy between the captivatingly varied streets of Edo, the relaxing moments you spend speaking with Saber or interacting with animals, and the rewards you receive from achievements.
What the game doesn’t contain are subquests in the general sense, where you solve minor issues faced by townspeople. Instead, there are side stories about Rogue Servants with no Master, as well as behind-the-scenes looks at other Master-Servant pairings that you can access just by going to specific locations marked on your map. Many of the people of Edo who have nothing to do with the Waxing Moon Ritual do appear in the main storyline, though, so I never felt that their depiction wasn’t fleshed-out just because of the lack of subquests.
Systems packed full of Fate
The Magical Workshop located in Iori’s home provides useful effects, such as expanding your facilities with materials you acquire, unlocking equipment enhancements, and making items cheaper. In the story, you enhance your workshop to strengthen your defenses, just as one doesn’t give information about themselves to enemy camps in the Holy Grail War. While the Magical Workshop feature itself is the same kind of system-expanding element seen in other games, it does work to reinforce the game’s setting by providing moments that show the Holy Grail War isn’t all about combat.
There’s also a Spirit Font Conflict minigame in which you fight with enemies for control of Spiritual Lands that leylines pass through. Both sides move one space during a turn, and the goal is to take the Spirit Font that your enemy uses as their home base. By acquiring these and connecting the leylines, you increase the Magical Energy of these Spirit Fonts, boosting Iori’s HP and the damage you do to Shell Gauges. In other words, it’s a territory-capturing game played against enemies placed on the world map. I’d call it another element that emphasizes the game’s Fate-ness. If you’re a Fate/Grand Order player, think of it as a system similar to the Grail Front.
Can Fate/Samurai Remnant be enjoyed even if you don’t know the first thing about the Fate series? Yes. While there are characters who make appearances from past titles and systems dripping with Fate flavor, it’s also sure at every step to show consideration to new players. It’s enjoyable on its own as an action RPG set in the Edo period. Series fans and newcomers alike are sure to enjoy Fate/Samurai Remnant when it hits PS5, PS4, Switch and PC on September 29, 2023.