Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fate/stay night (Visual Novel)

This is it. The review I've been waiting for. 

I wanted Fate/stay night to be my first review, but I figured I'd go the Tsukihime route, as that's the visual novel that started my love of the Nasuverse and Type-Moon as a whole. But now after revisiting it recently, I decided to give it a go. If you're here, you probably know a lot about Fate/stay night, so anything I say here won't be new to you, other than my experiences and opinions. I'll try not to get all fangirlish (this is my favorite Visual Novel, after all).

Fate/stay night is a Japanese eroge (or erotic game) visual novel developed and published by Type-Moon and released on January 30, 2004. It takes place after the events of Tsukihime in the far off Fuyuki City. For two centuries, a secret and violent battle takes place here. Seven Magi are gathered to fight to the death with the legendary Holy Grail as the prize. To help each Magus in this battle, better known as a Master, the Holy Grail bestows them with the power of one of seven familiars known as Servants. A Servant can be summoned in each war from one of seven classes: Saber - The Knight of the Sword, Archer - Knight of the Bow, Lancer - Knight of the Lance, Berserker - The Mad Warrior, Rider - The Mounted Knight, Assassin - The Stealth Killer, and Caster - The Magus. This "Holy Grail War" has gone on for centuries, and our protagonist, Shirou Emiya, is caught in center of this bloody battle after he summons the seventh Servant - Saber. Nasu does an amazing of creating and maintaining this world, as I found myself rooting for characters and staring open mouthed at some of the more intense scenes.

"Are you my Master?" Shirou summons Saber in one of the most recognized scenes of Fate.
Like most visual novels, you are given choices at key points. Depending on the decisions you make, your take the story in a different direction, or in some cases - die. That's right, certain decisions result in a "Bad End", so it's suggested to save often (luckily there are more than enough save slots). Even if you do get a Bad End, you'll be sent to one of my favorite parts (and the most comedic) - Tiger Dojo. Hosted by two of the characters, Fujimura Taiga and Illyasviel von Einzbern, they break the fourth wall to explain what you did wrong - hilarity ensues. Speaking of routes, Fate/Stay night splits the story into three major routes - Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel. Each of these routes has a plot that focuses on Shirou's relationship with each of the heroines in the story. As a result, you're going to need to play multiple times to see them all. Fate focuses on the Servant Saber; Unlimited Blade Works focuses on Tohsaka Rin, a classmate of Shirou's and the Master of Archer; and Finally, Heaven's Feel focuses on Matou Sakura (my favorite if you haven't noticed). Of course since this is an eroge, there are a couple of sex scenes. So there's your heads up - NSFW. Overall, they're not bad - the writing is good, but they feel kind of tacked on (with Heaven's Feel being the exception).

The three heroines (From left to right: Rin, Saber and Sakura)
The visual and audio aspects of this game is one of best I've seen and heard. The art style isn't bad, with plenty of facial expressions for each character and plenty of backgrounds. The little things are what make me appreciate Fate/stay night. The animations are awesome, especially during the action scenes, which are perfect on their own. The music is breathtaking - I'm definitely listening to it as I write this. Tainaka Sachi, Kawai Kenji, and Jyukai put in a lot of work to make this as good as it is, and I can't praise them enough. The wide array sounds just meld so perfectly. Though one of my favorite graphical choices is the Servant character sheets (in addition to the already extensive encyclopedia). There's an option to view the info of all the Servants Shirou has encountered so far. The best part is that the more info you learn about them, the more complete these character sheets become - adding another facet to the experience. And did I mention that LOVE Tiger Dojo?

One of the in-game character sheets.
On January 6, 2006, Studio Deen animated an anime adaptation of Fate/stay night. This primarily focused on the Fate route, but had several elements from the other routes. Studio Deen also adapted the Unlimited Blade Works route into a movie , released in theaters on January 23, 2010. While I love the music from both adaptations, everything else is a watered down, convoluted mess. I think visual novels have forever spoiled me. That's all I'll say about the anime versions for now (wink wink).

On April 19, 2007, Fate/stay night was re-released on the Playstation 2. Known as Fate/stay night Réalta Nua, this version provided voice acting but removed the sex scenes, earning it a 15+ rating. It also provided the true ending to the Fate route. The theme song, Ougon no Kagayaki, was performed by Number 201 feat. MAKI, and I love it (shown below). This version was ported back to the PC in 2011. A PlayStation Vita port of Réalta Nua released in Japan on November 29, 2012 which received new opening themes.

Overall, Fate/stay night is one the best visual novels (if not the best) I've ever had the pleasure of experience of playing. My only gripes is that some of the sex scenes outside of Heaven's Feel seemed out of place, but nothing really game-breaking for me. Fate/stay night isn't one of the best eroge I've ever read - it's much more than an eroge. It's much more than a visual novel. I laughed while reading this, I've even cried. I've grown to love these characters and hated to see the story end. I can't recommend this one enough. I've revisited this world to get a fresh take for this review, and I'd gladly do so again - if I weren't too busy with the sequel.

More Info: Fate/stay night on the Visual Novel Database


  1. Nicely done. I would have touched on the themes and progression of the story as whole from route to route myself. Conforming to one's ideal, questioning it, and even abandoning it are really important to the story and the form the narrative takes.

    Even so, that's really my only criticism. Good job.

  2. Thanks! There was a lot I could have said, but I didn't want to go into spoiler territory - nonetheless, I'm glad to hear that you liked it :3

  3. Yeah, I understand.

    Are you going to do Fate/Hollow Ataraxia next?

  4. Yeah, I kind of feel like I have to for completeness' sake, you know? I've actually been reading it when I have the chance.

  5. I understand where you're coming from. I finished it awhile back myself.