Recently we had the chance to try out Fate/Samurai Remnant‘s first chapter, experiencing most of what the game has to offer in what could be best described as an extended tutorial that not only showed off the game’s core content while also giving you the freedom to mess around in its world.
Despite this being made by Koei/Tecmo and not Marvelous, Fate/Samurai Remnant seems to take inspiration from Fate/Extella Link’s gameplay while successfully adding more mechanics that flesh out the master and servant dynamic, and placing a new semi-open-world RPG spin on the genre akin to Yakuza Ishin.
Fate/Samurai Remnant is proving to be a fun title for fans of the Fate series, those only introduced to it from FGO, or those who don’t even know what a Fate is, with an assortment of gameplay options and for rarely a dull moment.
*This preview was played on a build given by Fate/Samurai Remnant’s developers that only had access to a certain point in the first chapter. Fate/Samurai Remnant is subject to change before its release on September 28.
▍Fate/Samurai Remnant Extended Gameplay Preview
▍Fate/Samurai Remnant Story
Fate/Samurai Remnant takes place in 1651 Japan’s Edo period. You play as Miyamoto Iori, a young man and historically the adopted son of Miyamoto Musashi after supposedly bandits slew his entire family and he was spared on a whim. After performing another odd job as a debt collector, Iori notices on his hand a red mark, until the next evening he is assaulted by ninjas and the military scholar Yui Shōsetsu and his servant Rider before Iori’s command seal begins to form and he summons Saber.
The rest of the story follows the events of the Waxing Moon Ritual, this era’s version of the Holy Grail War that grants its surviving master a servant any wish they desire. Iori on the other hand does it not out of a particular dream, but to protect the people of Edo from further harm. This is in stark contrast with Saber, who seems to have no qualms about letting innocents get hurt during their battles and is fine with destruction, as she comes from an era in Japan far removed from laws and order,
It’s a fairly typical start to a Fate game but because this game is loosely set in actual history, it tries to link these historical events to the Waxing Moon Ritual. Since Fate/Samurai Remnant takes place in 1651 and references characters like the famous courtesan Takao, Yui Shousetsu, and those affected by the Shimabara Rebellion led by Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, it let’s do a little bit of detective work figuring out what did or didn’t happen in this universe as a result of magecraft, or just google these characters and get an idea of what happened.
It’s already known that Fate/Samurai Remnant features a couple of characters that have made appearances in other Fate series, though it’s their introduction and changes to their personality that makes them a joy to look at once more. Take for instance the “Boss” of Babyloni-ya, who is of course Gilgamesh. Keeping his typical demeanor, this time the King of Babylon owns a simple textiles shop with odds and ends for sale along with Candy that he graciously gives to children in the spitting image of… Himself. Here he plays the role of a shopkeeper, selling goods to kids and helping Iori out in his mission.
What’s also interesting are the of the Waxing Moon Ritual, It isn’t mentioned whether it’s due to the effects of the Ritual, but Saber is summoned into this era with a complete lack of knowledge of the world, whereas typically servants are summoned with enough knowledge to get by. This ignorance is quite endearing as it gives several opportunities for Saber to let loose in the new peaceful and blooming Edo Era, which lets Iori explain the state of the world to Saber and the player.
The ritual also brings with it 15 servants instead of the typical 7. The remaining 8 are considered “Stray” servants, with the aforementioned Gilgamesh being one of them. These servants are not aligned to any master but borrow power through Edo’s many Leylines, each with their own goals they seek to accomplish, whether its Tamamo-Aria’s “search for luck” or the Stray Berserker’s uncanny desire to protect Takao Dayu.
▍Hack-and-Slash Meets RPG
The best way to describe Fate/Samurai Remnant is a mix between Fate/Extella Link, and Yakuza Ishin. If you’ve never played either of those titles, what you’re getting is a semi-open-world RPG, with encounters out in the world that lead to hack-and-slash gameplay with humans, monsters, and of course Servants.
Combat is similar to something like Koei Tecmo’s Musou series. Iori has access to light and heavy attacks, and by alternating presses of light and heavy you can perform different combos, each dealing different amounts of damage and better for certain use-cases like crowd-control, stagger, damage, and more.
As a Master though Iori also has access to a host of magic that he can use. Since his focus is on swordplay though, magic casts are limited and can be replenished or stocked up with magic stones earned through battle. Spells run the gambit of casting fireballs, restoring health, and other useful effects.
The master and servant dynamic also heavily plays a role in combat as Saber will typically always be with you during fights, attacking by herself or together with Iori during certain context-sensitive QTEs, and through the use of the Affinity Gauge. Affinity is built up during battle and is a 3-bar resource that lets you command Saber to perform one of four techniques. Saber can also learn more techniques through upgrades, though you can only ever pick four techniques at a time. You can also at times just leave the fight to Saber, taking control of her immense power to overwhelm the enemies, while leaving Iori invincible, if only for a brief period of time.
While combat is mostly straightforward one aspect that definitely might be a little annoying to deal with is Fate/Samurai Remnant’s Shell system. All bosses have a Shell gauge that acts as a shield, and when active Iori’s attacks will deal reduced damage and depending on the enemy will bounce off.
That means your only real options are counter-attacking, or briefly stunning the opponent using Spells, Affinity attacks, and by taking control of Saber. While there are ways of dealing with the enemy, most of these options require a resource that has to be earned by attacking in the first place, so often times you’ll spend a good chunk of the fight whittling down an opponent’s Shell slowly.
You could learn the Riposte technique, which if you dodge an attack at the last moment you can counter-attack and leave the opponent wide open, but generally speaking fights with bosses are this long-drawn-out encounter to destroy their shell and then destroy them as quickly as possible, lest you go through the trouble all over again.
Beyond that though combat is definitely more satisfying, and while it can feel like a slog to be whittling down a boss’ shell gauge multiple times in a fight, especially if you’re on a time limit, it’s really a test of both your skills and how you can maximize your damage both to their shell gauge and HP, and there could be even more abilities to make the process faster, but more on that later. It should also be noted we played Fate/Samurai Remnant on hard difficulty, so if you decide to jump in on normal, it’ll probably be a lot quicker.
We also got to play as everyone’s favorite Musashi-Chan, and early on the game pretty much confirmed that this version of Musashi, the dimension and world-hopping Musashi is the same one that the masters from FGO are all too familiar with, with her love of all things modern and cute being a big part of her.
Being Musashi you’d expect her to be incredibly powerful, and she doesn’t disappoint when you finally get to take control of her in the game. During the story she takes the role of Takao Dayu’s summoned servant, meaning she will be Iori’s enemy at some point in the future, but for the early part of the Waxing Moon Ritual, she’s more than happy to form an equal alliance to help her student.
Musashi’s incredibly powerful, the moment you take control of her and swing at anything there’s this incredible force to her blows, amplified by the sound effects and visuals. She’s fast, powerful, and brings some attacks that fans of FGO will definitely recognize, such as the lasers she uses in her Swimsuit form being used in her 3-hit combo.
Musashi is an absolute blast to play, and while she doesn’t take center stage in this story, whenever she’s on-screen her presence just steals your attention away from every other character, and hopefully there will be plenty more sections where we can play as this beloved fan-favorite character.
■ Edo in All of its Glory Just Waiting to be Explored
Fate/Samurai Remnant is put simply, massive. The first chapter of Fate/Samurai Remnant introduces players to towns and districts like Asakusa, Okachimachi, Ueno, Kanda, Suidobashi, Torikoe Shrine, and Yoshiwara, however, these only make up a small portion of areas you can visit, as there are more than 20 districts marked with a red sign on the overworld map, suggesting there are 20 distinct areas with NPCs, minor quests, encounters and animals to pet along your adventures, which needless to say would be a lot.
Each district is a small filled with shopkeepers, food stall vendors, animals, and enemy encounters. The locations Fate/Samurai Remnant takes you in are quite varied, and it’s fun seeing what the Edo period looked like, complete with several of its stalls and nick-nacks including things like Zoos, spinning-top shops, restaurants, art galleries, and many more. As mentioned earlier since Saber is clueless about Edo’s norms and customs, giving the player plenty of opportunities to explain Edo’s customs, buildings, and features.
The map also plays a role in Fate/Samurai Remnant’s secondary game mode, which comes in the form of its Spirit Fonts and Leyline Control. In Fate/Samurai Remnant, the land of Edo is filled with leylines that connect to each other, with certain Leylines holding an abundance of power that strengthens mages, monsters, and others in the region. Part of the war for the Waxing Moon Ritual is to take control of as many Spirit Fonts as possible to strengthen their hold over the region and grant the master and their servant more power over a greater area.
This is translated into gameplay by having Iori travel to the various regions in Edo, taking control of each Spirit Font he walks into. Each time you make Iori move it is considered a turn, and after your turn, the enemy’s units also take a step forward taking control of a Leyline, and the goal is to take all of the enemy’s strongholds. If you run into an enemy on the same Spirit Font, you have to fight them.
The catch? The model has a time/turn limit, and if you exceed that turn limit Fate/Samurai Remnant sends you to a game over the screen. During the first chapter, the Spirit Font mode mostly felt like a tutorial, as the player wasn’t allowed to deviate too far from a path that would guarantee victory, however even in the early section you can see tough choices that had to be made like whether to deal with a mob far away or risk letting one Tamamo Aria’s town of Ueno get taken by the enemy, further costing you more time.
Thankfully there are ways to deal with these enemies as part of your tactics or if you made a mistake, like by using Mystic Codes or by sending Saber to take care of them quickly before they cut you off.
It’s an interesting game mode and a fun little strategy game addition to mixing things up. Fate/Samurai Remnant also shows you how the enemy will move, and if you cut off their Leyline path from their base, it will instantly deal with the said foe, though if the same happens to you it can almost spell a guaranteed loss as you’ll have to spend precious turns making up that lost time. There are multiple ways to tackle this and with so many stray servants, there will likely be even more tricks you can pull off to add to your arsenal of tactics, making for an interesting time.
■ Meaningful Progression, Together
Iori and Saber earn EXP through fighting and completing quests, these go towards leveling up the pair, increasing their stats, and giving them skill points that can be used for minor stat upgrades and sometimes more useful skills, like the ability to Riposte, new attacks, spells, and more.
Certain skills are locked behind the “Memento Ring”. As you progress through the story and perform certain actions with Saber, the Memento Ring increases, letting Saber remember more of who she is and strengthening her bond with Iori. When the Memento Ring increases by a level, Saber will have another section of her skill tree unlocked, giving you access to more affinity techniques and more stat gains. Certain skills also require you to head out and explore the world, so it’s a nice added incentive to run around as much of Edo as you can.
You can also increase Iori’s strength with the Mounting system. The swords Iori carries have four distinct parts, the Scabbards, Guard, Ring, and Decoration. Through fighting or rolling for random parts at the shop, you can pick up multiple parts that have different base stats and mounting effects like increased damage to humans, a health-restoring effect, more loot drops, etc. You can also upgrade these parts by bringing them back to Iori’s home and spending materials to upgrade any aspect of that part.
Fate/Samurai Remnant also has a loot system similar to something like Genshin Impact’s artifacts. Iori’s sword has four parts with randomized stats, effects, and effect values that are random. This means ideally you’d want to save your upgrade materials for the parts with the highest roll since you can only upgrade each part 9 times, and you won’t get most of the materials spent on upgrades when dismantling parts.
▼ The same kind of Scabbard has different base attack values and different effects.
Thankfully, you’ll only need to worry about having a part with a higher base stat, as you can freely replace the mounting effects on a weapon for a relatively low cost. The ability to upgrade mounting effects was also an addition added to renovating the workshop in his home, so there could be more flexible options locked behind unlocks later in the Fate/Samurai Remnant.
While character progression is pretty straightforward, there was one other neat thing about the game you could do, and that broke its story order a little. At certain points, you’ll have multiple digressions you can veer off towards that seems necessary for the story, and you can choose to head towards them right away rather than continue with the story, and the characters will mention how you should probably come back to them later.
An early one was to fight off the Stray Berserker, and you are absolutely not supposed to do this as soon as it’s available due to his high level, but we beat him anyway and it rewarded us with an item that seemed useful for later, and a bunch of EXP.
While we only got to play the 1st chapter of Fate/Samurai Remnant, so far the game is shaping up to be an absolute joy to play. With a simple combat system that has some room for clutch skill, a fun master and servant dynamic, and a plethora of pretty places to explore, Fate/Samurai Remnant really manages to explore the nuance of what it’d be like to be in a Holy Grail War, while still having an intriguing story.
While a few issues may crop up as the game’s random drops and slightly frustrating boss encounters, its too early to say whether or not it will stay this way, as there’s still an entire game we didn’t get to explore and plenty of upgrades that Iori and Saber could still pick up. With that in mind, Fate/Samurai Remnant is still a game you should look out for, especially if you’re a fan of the Fate franchise.