Review – Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st]
If you’re a fighting fan like me, you’re probably eagerly awaiting Soul Calibur VI like a present on Christmas. You’re also probably a fan of Arc System Works and their titles, namely the Guilty Gear franchise and Dragon Ball FighterZ. While Soul Calibur VI doesn’t come out for a while in all of its Witcher-infused glory, there’s another great fighter to spend a ton of time on. Previously released on PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] is now available on Steam.
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] is what you would expect from a fighting game released by Arc System Works, even though they weren’t the developers. It’s a fast-paced anime-styled fighting game with polygonal backgrounds, a big emphasis on combos, and a good soundtrack. It is the fourth iteration of the same Under Night In-Birth game. Think of it as its “ultimate” edition of sorts, just like Capcom loves to do with pretty much all of its Street Fighter games.
Despite the fact this is my first time playing an Under Night game, it doesn’t mean this was my first time playing a fighting game featuring characters from the series. Under Night In-Birth is one of franchises represented on BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, a game I have previously played and reviewed. Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] plays similarly to other Arc fighters like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, but it’s a lot more newcomer-friendly than its peers.
The combat system is great, as you would expect. Any newcomer can cause a decent amount of damage by performing simple combos which are shared between characters. As with any good fighting game, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] follows the “easy to learn, hard to master” premise with a twist: it features one of the deepest and most complete tutorials I’ve ever seen. The tutorial section in this game is comprised of over two hundred lessons, ranging from teaching newcomers what a health bar is to complex feats like massive combos and the like. That’s one of my favorite things about Under Night: it might be a very niche-oriented game when it comes to its themes, but it does a Herculean job embracing newbies as much as it can. Hats off to developer French Bread.
The game features a healthy amount of different modes and characters in order to keep players busy for a while. Given this is to Under Night In-Birth what Super Street Fighter II Turbo is to Street Fighter II, you’re getting the largest amount of content possible from all of its re-releases, with the largest amount of characters, stages, modes and features.
This isn’t only an arcade fighting game, though. Under Night is also known for being a visual novel. Developer French Bread has been known for doing this unusual clash of genres ever since the release of its cult hit Melty Blood more than fifteen years ago, and it’s no different this time around. The visual novel mode in this game is deep, very long, comprised of many side stories, and packed with pretty good voice acting. It might be in Japanese, but you don’t need to know the language to notice people are doing a good voicework. While this is certainly the most niche part of this already niche game, it’s a nice addition for fans of the genre. If you’re not, well, the fighting part is well worth the asking price anyway.
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] is easily one of the most niche-oriented games I’ve played in recent memory, but if you’re looking for a well-polished and content-heavy fighting game to warm you up for Soul Calibur VI or the next Guilty Gear (whenever the heck that will be), go for it without a doubt. It features tons of modes, a nice roster, enough hours worth of tutorial lessons for you to start considering attending EVO as a contender, and a very good level of presentation you would definitely expect from an Arc-endorsed fighter. The game might have a confusing name for newcomers, but it’s a lot more accessible than you’d ever expect. A must for fighting fans.
The anime-ish graphics might not look as pretty as Guilty Gear‘s, but they are still a feast for the eyes. The backgrounds are a bit simple though.
The controls are very responsive and the game is somewhat easy to pick up and play, but you’ll definitely want to spend some time training in order to learn how to unleash those stylish combos.
The game features a decent but unmemorable soundtrack as well as a colossal amount of pretty good voice acting, given the amount of dialogue present in its story mode.
Fun Factor: 8.5
It has a solid roster, a great amount of varied modes, and one of the most detailed tutorials I’ve seen in years. It’s a pretty package for fans of fighting games.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Reviewed on PC.
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] is available now on PS3, PS4 and PC.
A copy of Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] was provided by the publisher.