Archives by Day

December 2023

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


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS5 Review - 'Fate/Samurai Remnant'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 28, 2023 @ 4:00 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!

Buy Fate/Samurai Remnant

The Fate franchise sounds simple, with flamboyant, hyper-stylized versions of historical figures fighting in a battle royale. "Sounds" is the key word, with the ever-more-convoluted plot, increasing number of tie-ins, and gatcha games making it surprisingly intimidating to jump into the series. Fate/Samurai Remnant is a breath of fresh air because it's easily the most straightforward that the franchise has been, and it's a perfect introduction for those who want to jump in. It's a fun game, too.

Samurai Remnant is set in the 1650s in Edo. Players take on the role of Miyamoto Iori, the adoptive son of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Iori and his adoptive sister live a peaceful life in an era when samurai and swordsmen are becoming less meaningful, and all seems right in the world — until a mysterious armored figure attempts to murder Iori. He's saved in a blinding flash of light by a swordsperson named Saber, who's a "servant," from a group of heroic spirits based on famous historical figures. Each servant must pair up with a master to defeat all the other pairs, and whoever survives is granted one wish. Forced into the fight, Iori and Saber work together to survive the ritual and prevent Edo from being obliterated.

I found Samurai Remnant's story to be surprisingly charming. Some of the characters are a little thin, but they do a good job of conveying a lot of personality with a little action. Probably the star of the show is Saber, who is shockingly charming. I kind of expected to be annoyed, but they made me laugh and genuinely care about them pretty quickly. The game does a lot of work with body language and little touches to make the character shine. In comparison, Iori is a tad dull, the straight man to the wilder antics of those around him, but he has his moments.

The core combat in Samurai Remnant will feel familiar to fans of the Warriors franchise, but this title is more akin to Persona 5 Strikers than any of the mainline games. While it uses the "one character versus a lot of enemies" gimmick, it's more of a flavor element than a core design of the game, which focuses on battles against stronger foes. Think of it as a Warriors­-themed action RPG. It still has the same general feeling as Tecmo-Koei's classics, but it's been shuffled around a bit.

Iori swaps between various fighting styles based on Musashi's teachers: Earth, Fire, Void, Water and Wind. Each fighting style has its own traits. Earth uses a single sword and provides a defensive barrier that nullifies attacks, making it the safest of the lot, but at the cost of power and range. Fire is high damage but slow, and it gets more powerful as Iori's health diminishes. Void, my favorite, turns Iori into a human blender with insane damage and range, but the attack speed is tied to his health, with attacks getting slower as he loses health. Water is fast and uses two swords for wide-reaching attacks that are best for fighting multiple foes. Wind uses a sword in one hand and a magic spell in the other, with the magic allowing for powerful, long-range attacks that are effective against monsters but need to be recharged by melee strikes.

As you can imagine, Samurai Remnant strongly rewards constantly swapping styles. Earth or Fire is better for single fights, Wind is better against monsters, Water is best against groups, and Void is good if you're feeling confident in your ability to avoid getting hit. After you fight in one style for a bit, you'll trigger an "afterglow" effect that provides a buff to the style that you're swapping to. Going from Earth to other stances reduces the amount of stagger you can take, while Wind or Void provides a damage bonus. This is a good reason to constantly dance between styles. You also have a special attack that builds up like a Musou attack in the Warriors games, where you can spend it on a powerful crowd-clearing attack.

In addition to swordplay, Iori can also use magecraft, which are spells that he can learn. They cost gems and let him do things like buff or heal himself or use damaging spells against enemies. Unlike the rest of Iori's skills, these are profoundly unfun and unsatisfying to use. Gems are a consumable resource that can only be replenished through semi-random chance or a slow and tedious crafting method. The cost-to-benefit of these spells is so minor that there's no reason to bother with most of them. You can use a bucket of gems to give yourself a large heal, or you can use a rice ball that costs 300 yen — and you probably have 27 rice balls in your inventory at any given time.

Iori is a strong fighter but is inherently limited against a lot of foes. Except for the weakest human foes, Iori can't stun enemies or make them flinch. There are a few different methods of weakening enemies. When a strong enemy attacks, there's a moment when they are "glowing" after their attack, and they're more vulnerable to damage and attacks. You can also evade just before you're hit to execute a parry and stun them. As the game progresses, you also unlock skills that offer more options. Fire Stance can make weaker enemies flinch, and if you upgrade the skill enough, you can make all foes flinch.

Seals are special defenses that powerful enemies have, and they effectively render Iori's attacks useless unless you hit the aforementioned "sweet spot" or use a dodge-counter. Each attack drains a bit of the seal meter, so you're encouraged to slowly plink down the defenses, and once a seal breaks, Iori can fight the enemy as if they were a standard strong foe instead of an invincible behemoth.

How exactly are you supposed to stand up to things? That is where Saber comes into play. By default, Saber is an AI ally. They will attack on their own with powerful abilities and skills. As Iori fights, he builds up Affinity, which he can spend to request Saber perform a super attack for massive damage — and great damage to seals. They can also perform special link attacks, where Saber randomly calls over Iori, and in doing so, you can use an Affinity attack for free. As the game progresses, you'll unlock rogue servants, who can also join the battle and perform their own Affinity attacks.

You can also take direct control of Saber and rogue servants. Some plot battles put you in charge of them, but most of the time, you'll have another meter to build up. When the meter is full, you can use it to swap to the servant of your choice. Servants are like playing an actual Dynasty Warriors character. They are brutally fast, powerful, and have over-the-top basic attacks. They can stagger most foes and tear through seals. They even have their own special attack, the Noble Phantasm, which hits harder than anything else in the game.

Unfortunately, the game's biggest problem is that despite its best efforts, Iori isn't fun enough that players would want to play as him instead of the much more flamboyant and exciting servant characters. He's a mechanically complex character, but the nature of the game means that he's more mundane in action. It's difficult to not directly compare him to Musashi, who uses the same fighting style but feels incredibly powerful while spewing rainbow lasers and executing cool-looking attacks. Every time I played as a servant, I wished I could keep using them because even if they were simpler than Iori, they felt so much cooler.

Part of Samurai Remnant's draw is that people get to play as hyper-anime versions of famous historical figures, and I'm sure that's a big selling point. It feels weird when Miyamoto Iori, an actual historical figure, ends up feeling mundane. (Well, as mundane as someone who shoots fire from a sword can be.) Playing as a character that everyone decries as weak and useless instead of Joan of Arc or Musashi doesn't feel engaging, especially early in the game, before Iori gets some cool abilities.

In addition to the standard battles, a major factor of combat is figuring out how to take enemy ley lines without losing your own. "War" battles take place over ley lines, and when you enter those battles, the entire map of Edo is converted into a series of interconnected circles that represent the magical energy of the land. Iori can move from circle to circle and capture ley lines. Doing so improves his combat ability and occasionally provides rewards. Run into an enemy on the field, and you'll engage in a simple battle, with the winner claiming the spot. To win, you must claim the enemy's home base before time runs out. The enemy faction is also trying to get as many lines as possible while reaching Iori's home base.

This is where the wide variety of gimmicks come into play, with new ones being introduced on a regular basis. If you have built up the Affinity meter, you can use it when an enemy is about to hit one of your lines and send Saber to protect it. You can also use Affinity to send Saber or "hire" other rogue servants to help. You can craft or find mystic codes that let you do everything from gaining extra actions to instantly claiming every blank spot on the field. These can only be used once but can turn the tide of battle.

The ley line battles initially feel weak but improve as things progress. The game is slow to introduce new options, which is a shame because the sequences are a lot of fun once you have tools to work with. They're not overly difficult but have enough spice to be interesting, such as sudden reinforcements or deciding if it is worth fighting a tough battle without Saber at your side. By the time everything is unlocked, I looked forward to the ley line battles.

Beyond the main story and a few optional side-quests, there isn't a ton to do. You can explore various locations in Edo, but they're all basically interchangeable zones where you can fight some random battles, talk to NPCs, or pet cats and dogs. There are some collectibles and items that can unlock further options in the skill tree. Samurai Remnant is largely a linear RPG, but it's lengthy and has some branching plotline options, so it isn't exactly starved for content.

Samurai Remnant is a nice-looking title. The anime visuals translate well to the gameplay style, and the combat animations and cut scenes look quite good. The environments can sometimes be dull, but they have enough personality to keep you focused. The voice acting is Japanese only, but most of the actors do excellent jobs. Again, Saber is the star of the show, and their voice acting makes the character fun to be around.

Fate/Samurai Remnant is a perfectly fun action-RPG, and it is as a great introduction to the Fate franchise for those who find the convoluted and complex series too difficult to get into. The story and gameplay are engaging and fun but don't reach the highs of something like Persona 5 Strikers, largely because of the focus on Iori's "weakness."

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about Fate/Samurai Remnant
blog comments powered by Disqus