Fate/Samurai Remnant Review (PS5) – I Like Anime Now 

I’m going to say this up front, I am not really an anime or manga person. I’ve really liked a lot of what I’ve seen and read over the years, but both have just never been things that I really made the time to seek out and delve into, and games of that ilk were never ones that I tended to pay much attention to by extension.

I’ve also not properly sat down and played an Omega Force game since WinBack on the Nintendo 64. When I got asked to tackle PowerUp!’s review of Fate/Samurai Remnant, my initial instinct was to say no because I figured it would be something just not in my wheelhouse.

I’m so glad that I didn’t, because I’ve been enjoying playing it a heck of a lot.

Fate/Samuari Remnant Review – For those new here

If you’re entirely unfamiliar with the enormously extensive Fate media franchise as I was, don’t panic. You don’t need to be. This latest entry does a tremendous job of welcoming newcomers to its world. 

You’re dropped into the shoes of Miyamoto Iori, a real-life samurai of the Edo period, and his newly-met accompanying ‘heroic spirit’, a sort-of undead warrior woman from an age past named Saber. Together they’re thrown into a Highlander-esque tale of warrior Masters and their spirit Servants fighting against one another for an all-powerful prize. 

In truth, I haven’t been able to quite finish the core story yet given the game’s quoted 50-100 hour length and the narrow amount of time given before the embargo. However, Fate/Samurai Remnant’s writing won me over quickly and has kept me engaged for as many hours. I’m not one who typically gravitates to such works so this speaks volumes.

Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue, plot beats, and characterisations are quite often cliche and corny. It’s all handled with charming sincerity though. When an actual swordsman and philosopher from Japanese history is introduced early on as a young and ridiculously busty woman who basically tells you that she’s him from another dimension and you shouldn’t think too hard about it, it’s tough not to smile.

In between dialogue scenes, which are abundant and often lengthy, much of the moment-to-moment gameplay is spent wandering through maze-like city maps. Completing quests and getting into fights with masses of enemies is how you’ll spend a big chunk of time. The combat is something of a hybrid between Yakuza and Dynasty Warriors.

I’ve seen Fate/Samurai Remnant described as being open-world, but it’s really not in the typical sense. You can fast-travel to different neighbourhoods of its massive city setting, each of which has different themes and flavours, but the world by no means presents one seamless space.

Each of these neighbourhoods features its own sizable checklist of challenges that give rewards when accomplished. For the most part, they’re things that you’ll either be doing anyway such as clearing bandits and petting stray cats and dogs, (which DELIGHTFULLY heals you), or that are quick and easy things to divert towards such as praying at shrines. It’s blatantly a ‘have some dopamine as numbers go up’ system to hook completionists, but a pleasantly relaxed and largely passive one.   

Samurai is in the name for a reason

You will kill things with your swords and you will do it a lot.

Most fights require you to slice your way through a horde of weak enemies which act as a meat shield to a couple of bigger, more powerful ones. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of visual noise this presents makes keeping one eye on the attack-telegraphing of those few actually dangerous enemies pretty difficult most of the time. It’s easy enough to keep well stocked on health-regenerating food items that this never presents too much of a headache, but it’s a constant minor annoyance all the same.

The complexities of the combat are taught at a good pace, layering in spells, tandem attacks, and advanced combos, all of which can further be buffed, deepened, and tailored to suit your personal style. This personalisation is done through weapon modification, home workshop improvement, and a talent tree system that loosely echoes Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid. It’s all tried and true action RPG stuff, but it’s implemented well and it all feels cohesive with Fate/Samurai Remnant’s setting.

Whether against a legion of goons or a solitary boss, fights themselves are always good fun, though their often frenetic pace frequently led to me forgetting that I could hot-swap to controlling Saber directly to make engaging in them much more efficient. The game actually does give you reminders of features like this when context arises which is nice, but with no English voice dub, it requires you to be reading subtitles while in the thick of it, which can be a little challenging.

No Fate but what we make

I think the best thing I can say about Fate/Samurai Remnant is that, against all odds, I’m really quite fond of it. The characters and world it presents have drawn me in, and the breezy manner in which it plays and lets its story move keeps me engaged.

We’re right in the midst of one of the most obscenely stacked release periods the games industry has ever seen, and yet I, a confessed non-follower of these specific kinds of games, really want to keep playing it.

Am I going to dive into the absolute mountain of Fate games, movies and shows that came before it? Probably not.

I sure am glad that I took a chance on this latest entry in the franchise though, as the enjoyment it’s brought me has been about my most pleasant gaming surprise of the year.

Fate/Samurai Remnant was reviewed on PS5 using digital code provided by Koei Tecmo.

Fate/Samurai Remnant
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Jam Walker
Jam Walker
Jam Walker is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. They hold a bachelor's degree in game design but wonders what might have been had they gone to wrestling school instead.

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