- Game: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]
- Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Developers: Ecole Software, French Bread
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
One of the more slept-on anime fighters from last-gen came from the creators of Melty Blood. The first iteration of Under Night In-Birth provided a solid experience that featured elements of French Bread’s previous work and other popular anime fighters. Back in 2017, the multitude of updates that were added to the game resulted in the Japan-only release of Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]. A year later, that oddly-named rendition of the game has finally graced American and European territories. With the flood of fighting games making their way to the FGC in 2018, it’s easy to overlook this under-the-radar release. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you ignored this retooled fighter, however. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] irons out the kinks of the first version’s mechanics and improves upon a fun formula that still works.
Like other updated fighters, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] does a good job of making balance adjustments for the overall gameplay. There’s also the more important inclusion of brand new characters who provide more varied playstyles for veteran players. Thankfully, those new characters fit in quite nicely with the rest of the charismatic roster. Phonon’s whip-based offense and cocky demeanor makes her stand out as one of the best newcomers. The other three new combatants all hold their weight as well. Mika’s a wily young girl armed with massive robotic gear that’s capable of some crazy airborne specials and grapples. Wagner’s tried and true use of a sword and shield is familiar and approachable from a difficulty standpoint. And lastly, Enkidu is a Rekka-based powerhouse who’s moveset consists of specials that hit hard and open up foes for bigger combos. The four additions who now join this fighter’s roster are all worthy of debuting in this update.
Everything that appeared in the original release are still in place. Arcade Mode supplies players with the simple concept most other fighters rely on for their version of the legacy mode. It also makes sure to add in story sections here and there to provide more detail on why all these In-Birth’s are fighting. Then there’s the selection of other modes that players have become accustomed to – Versus, Network, Score Attack, Time Attack, Survival, Training, Tutorial, and Mission. There’s still the option of watching replays of past matches, unlocking special art and videos in a gallery, and customizing various aspects of the game’s presentation. Nothing’s been excluded from the first edition of the game, which is expected to but still commendable.
The newest feature to play a huge part in this update is the visual novel-focused Chronicles mode. If you slogged your way through Guilty Gear Xrd and BlazBlue’s presentation of that mode, then you know what’s in store for you – a series of dialogue scenes that offer nothing in the way of actual gameplay. Visual novel games are a niche genre of gaming that’s slowly been gaining popularity lately. However, their appearances in fighting games take away from the experience instead of improving it. Reading a bunch of lines from characters is simply dull and is best left ignored when compared to the more active role you play in Arcade Mode. You’re much better off getting a wikipedia explanation of the events that take place before the main storyline instead of sitting through hours of visual novel drivel.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] set out to make an already riveting anime fighter all the more interesting. It’s good to know that French Bread accomplished that goal. The character balancing makes everything even more fair than before, the four new characters are all fun additions to the huge roster, and there’s a wealthy amount of modes to busy yourself with. Chronicles Mode is far from interesting due to its boring visual novel presentation. Ignore that mode and you’ll find yourself immersed in the epic battles of the In-Birth’s once more with this fresh update.
- The systems at play are still easy to grasp, plus the gameplay is still thrilling
- The addition of four new combatants freshens up the roster
- Chronicle Mode’s visual novel structure is a complete bore