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Review: Fate/Samurai Remnant is a Holy Grail War for Musou sickos

There’s a new Fate Musou, and this time it’s actually from the Musou people.







Fate/Samurai Remnant

Developer: Omega Force

Publisher: Koei Tecmo

Release Date: 9/29/2023

Review Score: 8

Quick Verdict:

Fate/Samurai Remnant is a thoughtful adaptation of Fate within the Musou framework. It isn’t the best Fate story but its strengths outweigh its stumbles.

Pros:

  • An original Fate story, instead of an adaptation from another medium

  • Fascinating combat structure that serves the source material well

  • Fun new characters, especially Musashi

Cons:

  • Story takes a long time to get interesting

  • Omega Force continues to struggle with crafting systems

  • Ley line minigame is more complicated than it should be and leans hard on tutorials

Reviewer played on PC. Code provided by the publisher.

Fate/Samurai Remnant is available on September 29, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 / 5, and PC. A Steam code was provided by the publisher for this review.

It’s weird that it took this long for Omega Force to work with Type Moon on a Fate project. It’s especially weird since the Fate/Extella series was already based on the Musou style. Ironically, the house that Dynasty Warriors built opted for something much less traditional. Fate/Samurai Remnant is not only an original story in the series that started with Fate/Stay Night, it’s also a more experimental kind of “Warriors” game. It’s more comparable to Persona 5 Strikers than, say, Hyrule Warriors.


It’s more comparable to Persona 5 Strikers than, say, Hyrule Warriors.

Mostly what that means is you won’t be fighting massive hordes of dudes while galloping across massive maps and clearing objectives. Instead, you’re exploring various towns in Keian Era Japan as you unfold the mystery of the “Waxing Moon Ritual.” Fights are much smaller in scale, although the familiar Dynasty Warriors combat mechanics are still in play. Not unlike a Yakuza game, you’ll be running into smaller scraps against modest groups of enemies, or taking on challenging one-on-one boss fights that will not approve of blind button-mashing.


We get it, we like petting animals


In-between the fights you’ll buy food from street vendors, carve Buddha statuettes and sharpen your sword at home, pet dozens of dogs and cats (videogames in 2023, baby) and run errands for people who could kill you with their pinky finger. Fate/Samurai Remnant almost feels like a River City game instead of a Musou. Genre-blending aside, there’s no mistaking the story for anything but a new entry in the Fate series.


While Nasu isn’t in charge of the scenario this time, there’s no shortage of waifu/husbando iterations of famous heroes and villains of yore.

Ever since Fate/Stay Night in the early aughts, Type Moon has made a name for itself across several different mediums thanks to accomplished writer/creator Kinoko Nasu and an escalating rolodex of weirdly sexy versions of historical and literary figureheads. While Nasu isn’t in charge of the scenario this time, there’s no shortage of waifu/husbando iterations of famous heroes and villains of yore. Alan Moore couldn’t lace this guy’s boots.


Sexy Robin Hood, sexy Francis Drake, sexy Jeanne D’arc, et al.



Most notable this time is arguably Miyamoto Musashi, portrayed in Samurai Remnant as a rowdy, spiky-haired woman of the Berserker class. She’s one of the only Fate Berserkers who can form coherent sentences, and has the personality of a yoked-up himbo who lives for excessive drinking and fist fights. I would die for her.


Genre-blending aside, there’s no mistaking the story for anything but a new entry in the Fate series.

Besides the over the top characters, the most interesting part of Fate/Samurai Remnant is how it portrays the massive power imbalance between the Master/Servant pairings in contrast with Omega Force’s signature action style. Normally in Fate games you’d expect to raise Hell as the Servants (sexy history heroes) during action, while the Master (human, protagonist) is your story vehicle. Here, you spend most of the time playing as Miyamoto Iori, a regular dude and mediocre ronin samurai.




In the typical Holy Grail War, a group of Masters are assigned Servants, who do most of the fighting on their behalf. Sort of like Human-shaped Pokemon. Masters may have certain powers or abilities and contribute, but they aren’t the muscle. Iori is no different, and can barely hold his own against regular enemies. Meanwhile Servants, such as the ever-popular Saber Iori’s paired with, are capable of superhuman feats of strength. But you’re stuck with Iori, which sounds like a huge bummer.


Gods among men


There’s a certain desperation Fate stories often want to instill in the audience, and that’s achieved here by forcing the player into Iori’s shoes. His damage isn’t great, his spells cost consumable gems, and he gets stuffed out of most moves while causing very little hit stun in return. However, as you scramble to survive you build up Affinity, opening the door to performing special tag team moves with Servants.


The biggest problem is how long the story takes to get going, with what feels like several hours of setup

There’s also a separate meter that builds alongside Affinity, which gives you temporary control of either Saber or another allied Servant if available. You get to harness the ridiculous power of Servants, but only for small bursts at a time. Outside of special occasions that give you more time with these godlike combatants, that’s all you get.


And boy does it work. Usually in Musou/Warriors games everyone is more or less on the same playing field, and combat is more about being a larger than life general figure on the battlefield. Here you’re playing the role of a relative normie caught up way over his head in something beyond comprehension, and these restrictions help sell that vibe. That juxtaposition makes what would be standard play in other Musou titles feel special in an unfamiliar way.


That juxtaposition makes what would be standard play in other Musou titles feel special in an unfamiliar way.

Do we really need crafting that much?



Even if the story isn’t my favorite, Fate/Samurai Remnant still holds court in the greater Fate universe. There’s a lot of detail and depth in this game, far more substantial than the average Musou joint. And I love these kinds of games for the record, so my expectations were fairly high. Some of the new Servant characters are awesome, and the way the game plays with its own series’ tropes to adapt the source material rules. At the end of the day, there’s a lot for Fate sickos to sink their teeth into, and there’s no outside required reading bogging it down. If the word “Saber” makes you think of angular bangs and a cutesy stray hair instead of a Civil War sidearm, this is a game for you.




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