Fate/Stay Night [Visual Novel Review]

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As far as the theme of this blog goes Fate/Stay Night by Type-moon is perfect, so I thought why not write a review for it? But as far as the sub-genre of fantasy, however… this could be considered anything from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. But if I were to give an analysis that isn’t vague I would use one word; ‘good’, and the different spin-off adaptations and fan work created from it can attest to this. Another word I would use is ‘long’, with multiple branches, so bear with me while I attempt to summarize it in an interesting fashion without spoiling anything. On a side note, as cliché as this is, this was the first visual novel I played and what first got me into them.

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Fate is the story of the Holy Grail Wars, an epic free-for-all tournament fought between different servants (epic heroes summoned from all throughout time) and their masters, who flock to Fuyuki City where the Holy Grail, a wish granting talisman that goes to the winner, is set to materialize. I first thought the fact that  it just happened to be set in same city two times in a row would be a plot hole but there are reasons for the time, place and characters chosen for this war. If I was to go into the ‘why’ behind it I would be edging very close to spoiler material. I found what made these masters and servants interesting for me was their magic system and how it interacts with the rules of the tournament. For instance; if a master is killed by a servant that servant can either vanish or change masters, making some of their contracts distrustful and tenuous at best. At the same time the masters have what is called Command Spells, a limited number of marks which can order a servant to doing anything they want, the command spells empowering the servants to do so. Besides this all the actions the servants can do is limited by their mana which can be gained through various means (*cough* sex) with the option to use a large chunk of it up on a special ability called a Noble Phantasm. It’s kind of like a fantasy game (which it pretty much is). As it goes I like a complex story and the more this story goes on the more complex this simple premise becomes, but it is paced well enough that you don’t get lost along the way.

Fate stay night servants

There are a few masters in the cannon that are not from Fuyuki City but being the magical land where the Holy Grail War is set, most of them are. They and their servants all have their own back-story and motivations for getting the Holy Grail. I would definitely say that I found the biggest downside to this visual novel is the main character. Shirou, the temporary best friend to everyone who wants a favor, is a teenager with a martyr complex who becomes one of these servants. He is a tad inconsistent as well, one minute being a human with little to no physical strength compared to a servant then suddenly taking one on in battle and winning! If there is one thing I can say I liked about Shirou is that he works as a good understudy to make the other characters seem even cooler. As far as the others go Saber is a battle-wise badass but naive of present day customs making her feel somewhat innocent despite being a warrior. Toshaka is a bitchy… ahem Tsundere, but is the one with the most knowledge of magic as well as being the voice of reason who also becomes a badass at times. In fact most of the characters rest within a gray-scale of either being an asshole or a badass but special mention goes to Archer, Gilgamesh and Kirei for managing to be at the extremes at both ends of this scale. I think Sakura Matō gets the gold medal in this visual novel for the most victimized character, there is always one in each visual novel I find, but after watching Fate/Zero I can see that a lot of this runs in the family (poor Kariya Matō).     

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Like I said in my Chaos;Head review I’m a big fan of this anime style; the characters are color toned very well and, considering the content of this game, it worked well. As for the music I can also say it works but besides a few specific tracks such as ‘Emiya’ mostly known for the Unlimited Blade Works scene and ‘Sword of Promised Victory’ I can’t say much more than they already have by themselves. Technically it works like any good visual novel should but I have to give a shout out to whoever on the Type-moon team created that saving system where you can chose to skip scenes you have already read. Then again for a game this long you’re going to need it. The multiple choices in this one can be a bit annoying. There was a situation where I would give a set of right answers and yet with one wrong answer earlier on in the story and I would have to replay the entire visual novel from that point, re-answering the question just to remedy this one mistake. As for any visual novel I wouldn’t shame myself by calling it difficult but I would call it time consuming and I can only hope the impatient readers don’t get put off from the rest of the story if the same thing happens to them. The endings have enough excitement for it to be worth it.

Summary

For me Fate/Stay Night, G-senjou no Maou and Steins;Gate make up not only my holy visual novel trinity but also what I consider the best story-based visual novels without any added gameplay sequences. Admittedly I wouldn’t have played this without buying the boxset of the anime on a whim at an anime con when it was first released and then wondering why there were missing scenes that I found on youtube that turned out to be the visual novel’s opening. Then again without downloading this visual novel and finding out how much better it was I wouldn’t have gotten into visual novels at all.

Good thing I did.

Rating:

8.5/10

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15 Responses to Fate/Stay Night [Visual Novel Review]

  1. Pingback: [Anime Review] Fate Stay Night: Unlimted Blade Words | Fantasy and Anime

  2. Lazarinth says:

    “If there is one thing I can say I liked about Shirou is that he works as a good understudy to make the other characters seem even cooler” – Good news everyone, a new Fate anime adaption is being released this year.

  3. Overlord-G says:

    Other than introducing me to my eternal archenemy Shirou Emiya, the Fate anime was enjoyable. I haven’t played the VN (but you already know why) so I can only share my experiences with the anime and movie, the latter which also failed to make me like Shirou. Rin’s hot but her tsundere nature can get out of hand. I jumped on the Saber bandwagon because she’s THAT awesome. I also like Sakura.

  4. Pingback: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood [Anime Review] | Fantasy and Anime

  5. Lazarinth says:

    Still a bit of a stretch for me, I mean he did just learn this ability and suddenly he can take on servants. Don’t get me wrong you have some points, they just weren’t convincing enough for me.

  6. Lazarinth says:

    Granted Shirou is a Mage and has Avalon in him but for me it was a bit of a jump in UBW and HF where he goes from having the physical ability of a normal human to being able to take on servants like Archer before he could draw on his own unlimited blade works.

    • Lambda says:

      I saw that as Archer let him win, though? Anything I read about it basically says Archer let him win, although it’s been a little since I read it first-hand… Then he beats Gil with UBW because he can only beat Gil at that point, he borrows Archer’s power to take on Berserker!Alter (um… I think? TBH I’m not as big of a fan of HF so many memories are fuzzy) + Saber!Alter in the bad end (in the good end he borrows Rider too). But yeah, I guess that it’s pretty chuu2 that way… he only needs a little help to take them all on…

  7. Lambda says:

    FSN is also my first and favourite visual novel so far (it’s a common start, huh?). It lets me do things like spend an entire day on the Type Moon wiki just figuring out new details about the series. I have to say, though, that part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because of Shirou. Comparisons are some of my favourite things to do, and Shirou gives a great opportunity for them – the different paths he will take as an ‘ally of justice’, the turns his resolve makes and the different outcomes that appear… It’s fun to just think about. He’s the character that changes the most each route, anyway. I can’t help but wonder what HF!Shirou would think of Fate!Shirou. Plus, he has the skills of a waifu. Is that really so bad? Also. would you be able to clarify when Shriou’s attack powers are inconsistent? Cause I didn’t notice that when I read it and now I’m curious?

    I also liked Rin and UBW the best. Archer’s and Shirou’s ideals just made for an interesting battle, and scenes that make me swoon over Lancer and Archer can’t possibly be wrong! Not to mention the awesome action and the Reality Marbles activating only in that route~

  8. Kai says:

    And as cliche as it sounds, Fate/Stay Night was the first visual novel I played too xD The funny thing is during that time, I barely had any experience installing games, much less visual novels, since I was still using an extinct 512mb ram computer at that time. Figuring out how to install Fate/Stay Night took a good 6, 7 hours… xD

    Shirou’s inconsistency depends on the route. I think he is the most consistent in Fate route, although Fate’s not a very good route >_> He is the most inconsistent in Heaven’s Feel, able to take on servants like a badass – a really good route nonetheless, and if I were to describe it in one word, like you did, “epic”, again, as cliche as it sounds nonetheless. Although my favorite route is still Unlimited Blade Works, because… Rin is lovely.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Thanks for commenting, I’m finally back online and able to post again! Unlimited Blade Works is my favorite as well and I’m glad they made a film if only to show the fight scenes with high quality animation and develop Rin’s character to the anime-only crowd. Speaking of which have you thought of if you’re going to give the Steins;Gate film a look in the future?

      • Kai says:

        I will definitely be watching it, just have to find time to, lol. Incidentally, there’s also a tons of other anime films I haven’t watch yet.

  9. I wouldn’t mind giving Saber some of my mana, if you know what I mean 😉

  10. Alpha Omega says:

    I was introduced to the Fate franchise when the anime adaptation of Fate/Zero came about. Once I finished it I wanted more and did some research and I discovered that it was prequel to Fate/Stay Night. I went to watch the anime but stopped after I heard how rubbish the anime was so I dived into the visual novel. It’s my first VN and by far my favourite. Also like you this was the VN that brought me into the world of VNS.. The only problems I have with the game is the H scenes. Like honestly the excuse used just for the porn was hilarious. But I loved how it used sex as a plot device instead of porn with a plot. My favourite route was no doubt Heaven’s Feel and my characters is Kotomine Kirei he’s just so awesome. I love the fact that each route hints the next route.
    I’ll the rest of my thoughts to a review I will write. Also can you recommend me so good VNs the only other one I have played is Tsukihime and Im not touching Steins;Gate since I wacthed the anime and the visual novel only offers a slight touch of more detail as I have heard

    • Lazarinth says:

      Everything I would recommend (on anything) is on my recommendations page on this blog. G-senjou no Maou is my favorite all up, brilliant story and atmosphere. I was going to go more into the other paths like unlimited blade works and heaven’s feel but thought it would have to many spoilers. I watched the steins;gate anime first and the VN just made me love the characters even more.

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