"I ask of you. Are you my master?" It's a quote that started it all; a huge franchise, an amazing concept that will entrance fans for years, and a great visual novel. With the Utofable anime adaptation coming up, now is a great time to see how the gateway drug into the nasuverse holds up. Welcome to Rockmandash Reviews+, and today, we have Fate/stay night.
You might be questioning why I posted this, considering I posted a Fate/stay night review earlier this year. Yes, I did release a Fate/stay night review, but I've improved my review style: both the substance and how it looks aesthetically. That's where the review+ comes in: Whenever I redo or spice up a review but want to keep the original the way it was, i'll be one of these reviews+.
BTW- If you like video reviews, here is my Video Review. There's a few editing glitches, and it's based on my older review, but I'm probably going to redo it by the time ufotable's Fate/stay night is done.
Playing through Fate/stay night is like experiencing 3 equally long VN's with 3 separate plots, and 3 completely different writing styles. Because of the structure of the game, and how vastly different each route is, I'll review each route separately and create a cumulative score for the plot. The premise of the story is that there is a Fight-to-the-death tournament called The Fifth Holy Grail War (which isn't really a war....) where people known as masters fight with Heroes throughout history, known as servants, for a chance to get the Holy Grail, which grants their wishes. Each servant is one of the 7 classes, Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin, and Caster. If you didn't get that, well, this game has a lot of exposition to explain that basic premise, so you won't be totally lost. The premise is one of the stronger parts of the game, it's so unique that it's made a pretty large franchise. The main character in FSN is Emiya Shirou, whose ideals change along with the route, but he's usually a hardworking idiot who cares about others more than himself, so much so that he's willing to risk his life. The strength of the game is in the characters; all of the characters are likable in some fashion, and they usually have something to add to the story.
Fate is a typical yet better than average plot with Saber: Shirou's blond haired servant who's a gender bent king Arthur as your main heroine. This route a fantastic introduction route: as it focuses on the most popular character saber, has great world building, develops the characters so you can enjoy them more later on, has a bunch of exposition while still creating an atmosphere of mystery and manages to set a tone and message that makes it feel essential to the story. Saber's personality and actions in this route are the best parts of it though, she's a really enjoyable charecter and if you don't like her after this route, i'd be quite surprised. The thing about the fate route though is that it doesn't really do anything special; aren't a lot of interesting plot points in comparison to the other routes, it doesn't stand out well, and due to shirou's idiocy, it might be annoying to go through. Fate is about Shirou embracing his ideals of becoming a hero, full on, and it's just above average.
Fate - 7.5/10
Unlimited Blade Works
Unlimited Blade Works is the most action packed out of all the arcs, and is my personal favorite. There's alliances, change in power, and I hope you like a large dosing of Tsundere, because the main heroine is Rin Tohsaka, A tsundere honors student magus who comes from a family who's history is ingrained with the Holy Grail War. I'm just going to state that I'm a sucker for tsunderes, and Rin's probably my favorite... so yeah... I loved her in this route. The Unlimited Blade Works route can be described as the concepts of the fate route but with an adrenaline rush, epic feel and a focus on the action and the protagonist. Unlimited Blade Works is very well executed as well; in my eyes, the most enjoyable character interactions, great memorable scenes, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Unlimited Blade Works has Shirou struggling with himself about his ideal and his life, both past and future, which is something that's really relatable and is the biggest reason of why I love Unlimited Blade Works.
Unlimited Blade Works - 9.5/10
Heaven's feel is by far the most depressing and best written of all the arcs. Even with my personal bias twords Unlimited Blade Works, I have to admit that Heaven's feel is written better. Unlimited Blade Works was action, but Heaven's feel is disturbing, shocking, idealistic, well executed, creates an amazing atmosphere, and will BLOW YOUR MIND. The main heroine is Sakura Matou: Shirou's kouhai and Shinji's little sister. The choice of sakura might not make any sense early on, but the more they screw with your the situation, the more sense it makes. Also, there's a reason this route is last; you need to sink into the world of Fate/stay night before Heaven's feel rips you out of it and throws you into the curb. Heaven's feel is primarily about conflict within Shirou: reality vs ideals, and it is the most contrasting out of the others, which after seeing shirou act completly different in the other arcs. It's the best written route and its bloody fantastic, even if it's quite depressing and dark.
Heaven's feel - 10/10
Overall, the Fate/stay night visual novel is a well written and memorable story. It's a fantastic story, full of interweaving ideals, amazing monologue, great characters and amazing action. If you are looking for an epic story, Fate/stay night is definitely one to check out.
Writing - 9/10
One big thing that separates word based mediums like Visual novels and books from their anime and manga counterparts is length. Visual novels are much longer to flesh out the world and characters, and this one is no exception… it uses that time to flesh out the world and it's very memorable. The thing is though...the game should take you about a month or more to go through just main story, and that's if you were reading it every day like I did and was following a guide, ignoring all the bad ends. If you are not a fan of reading, stay far away: it's about a million words of text,and it's very long. Due to the length it feels really slow paced when you are playing, and at times you might lose interest. It's not the worst pacing I've seen though because a lot of the fluff does make the experience better, and usually is entertaining so it keeps your attention most of the time but the pacing is a glaring flaw in a great game. In comparison, I thought that the 2006 anime was a more manageable size and had better pacing.
Pacing - 6/10
It's been 10 years. While there are parts that shine visually, overall it just looks klinda average now. There's nothing wrong with it: everything is crisp, memorable, detailed and does it's job well, I just wish that it had a better style, or was more aesthetically appealing, like later Type-Moon works. The designs of the characters, especially the servants are intricate, detailed, and are pretty memorable. While most of the CG looks pretty good, most of it doesn't really stand out. Also there's one thing that needs to be mentioned about the visuals, and that is the fact that this is an eroge... soo.. CUE THE OBLIGITORY EROGE WARNING HERE. While the plot hasn't been hit by age, the visuals have. What was once great, is now just average.
Visuals - 7/10
Do yourself a favor and get Realta Nua, the PS2 version or a Mod for the PC version that adds the voice acting. It's great voice acting, and other parts of the series have the same voice actors. Almost all of the text is voiced, which is OUTSTANDING, considering the amount of text that this game actually has. The soundtrack though, is not one of Fate/stay night's strongpoints. The soundtrack is distinctly average; Most of the music is there for atmosphere building which it does quite well, but it's not memorable or mind-blowing. While there are a few memorable tracks like Ever-present feeling and Emiya, most sound average. It's a good soundtrack, but I can't really say that it's one of my favorite soundtracks.
Sound - 8/10
Honestly, I didn't really care for F/SN at the beginning. I'm not the biggest fan of fantasy, but the more I played, and the more it sinks in, the better it gets. Like I said earler, it's the gateway drug into the nasuverse; you dip your toes in, and the more you go through it, the more you will fall in love with the game and the series. If you can, start off the Fate series with this one, it's the definitive version of Fate/stay night so far, and you'll get the whole story and lore. It'll be easier to transition to the others too. The fights, the night patrols, the character development, the world building, the lore, they all build up into something great, and you'll grow to love it. That being said, the pacing can hamper your experience: it's slow, long and at times, it'll make you wish you were just at that next action scene or plot twist. Even with the slow pacing, it's still a really well executed story. I really did love this game, and after I finished this, I had the feeling of the void and accomplishment. If a game can do either of those, it's a winner.
Enjoyment - 8/10
Fate Stay Night is a fantastic visual novel with a great story, but there are aspects which hasn't aged particularly well, and it's really long. It's worth going through this version though, as this is the definitive version of the story even after 10 years, and it's the full story.
Overall - 9/10, Polarization +1,-1
I am the Keyboard of my Review
Reviewing is my Body and writing is my blood.
I have read over a Thousand Words
Unknown to Action Nor known to Tsundere
Have withstood pain to create many reviews
Yet this Keyboard will never type anything
So as I Review,
UNLIMITED REVIEW WORKS
Copyright Disclaimer: Under Title 17, Section 107 of United States Copyright law, reviews are protected under fair use. This is a review, and as such, all media used in this review is used for the sole purpose of review and commentary under the terms of fair use. All footage, music and images belong to the respective companies.
This game is availible on Fuwanovel for download.