At last year’s EVO a new entry in the Under Night series, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r], was revealed. For fans, this was a delight and for those familiar with fighting games or played BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, you should have some idea of what Under Night is all about. Now that Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is finally set to release, is it something fans should be excited for or is it an excuse to get people talking about it again?
Similar to BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] features a fair bit of story told through arcade and chronicles mode. Both modes try to flesh out the characters in a way that makes them seem interesting, yet manages to fall short. There are a good number of stories that simply don’t need to be told or involve way too much dialogue to be compelling. It won’t take long before you’re lost in an endless stream of babble masking an otherwise interesting world.
As for the actual experience, chronicles serves as a prequel that explains the events leading up to arcade. These stages are entirely dialogue-based and offer a good amount of insight into the world, mechanics, and powers that exist in it. Arcade continues this by giving players a step further into their plans, though due to the way it’s set up, there are some inconsistencies. Still, if you can get past the writing it might be worth investing in.
Outside of those two modes, there are all the modes you’d expect from a modern fighting game. These include online and offline versus, score and time attack, survival, training, tutorial, and missions. Most of these are exactly what you’d expect. Versus is straight fighting, time attack is built around winning fights as fast as possible, the tutorial explains mechanics and missions give you an idea of how each character fights. It might not be perfect but there is a good amount for casual or hardcore fans.
Since this is a more traditional fighting game with unique mechanics, tutorials and missions are invaluable. For the tutorial, there are 179 pieces of training designed to give you an idea of how everything works. Most are obvious things, health, direction, inputs, jump, dash, things of this nature, with the useful ones being centered on the actual mechanics. One of the more useful tutorials explains shield, a higher level of blocking that prevents chip damage. Another is a veil, a move that trades special for additional power. These seem complicated at first, though they’ll eventually become second nature.
Missions follow down a similar path. The first set will teach you character combos, with the last group focusing on how the character plays. For this reason, difficulty will vary depending on how well versed in fighting games you are and how complicated the character in question is but Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] genuinely wants to help you improve. Not only through guides that make it easy to, if nothing else, grasp the basics of any character, but also through tools needed to master each challenge. Perhaps my favorite mechanic is the ability to slow gameplay down. Instead of having to do each challenge at full speed, you can start at 30 percent, build to 50 and then build towards 90 before outright doing it. Mind you, some of them are tricky at even 30 percent as the timing is very strict, though it’s still nice to have that option.
As far as combat goes, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is rather fast-paced. There are a lot of quick combos or tricky moves you can do to overwhelm your opponent. I wouldn’t say anyone is perfect, though certain characters will have a natural advantage over others. Even if high-level play requires a good bit of skill to accomplish, there are a good number of easy combos and basic mechanics that will be enough to hold your own against AI or low tier opponents. Though, like a lot of fighting games, a good player will be able to completely lock you out if you don’t have the experience.
Most of the changes in this version are balances, though one new character was added. In this version, Londrekia has joined the fight and is a fast-paced fighter that has some rather tricky ice moves. With proper timing, you can actually freeze opponents and gain the upper hand and is meant for a more skilled player. Proper tactics make him a fearsome foe, whereas a less than the skilled player will likely leave themselves open to punishments. How well you do depends on your ability to time attacks and overcome challenges.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] Review – Verdict
Even though very little has changed in Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] besides the finer points, it makes for a worthwhile experience for both sides. Newcomers have plenty of offline modes to test their skills or play around and a rather robust training system that genuinely wants to help you. Returning or skilled players will likely enjoy the new character and find new possibilities with the changes. Given current owners can simply upgrade it will probably be worth it, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise.
[Editor’s Note: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]