REVIEW: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

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Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] | Box art
Title Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]
Developer French-Bread
Publisher PQube (EU), Aksys Games (NA)
Release Date February 9, 2018
Genre 2D Fighting Game
Platform PS4, PS3, PS Vita
Age Rating ESRB – Teen
Official Website

Incremental updates are something of a fact of life for fans of fighting games. It’s certainly not as bad as it used to be – the days of Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R have passed – but it’s still a common practice, especially with Japanese developers. The means of releasing these updates has changed for some developers, such as Arc System Works releasing Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 as DLC and BlazBlue Centralfiction 2.0 as a patch, and Capcom releasing Street Fighter V Arcade Edition as a free update, but the practice still lives on. One such example is Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], the second update to the original Under Night In-Birth and the second version to be released to home platforms.

As an update, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] (also known as UNIST) comes with a handful of additions to the already-existing Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late (UNIEL). It comes with a total of three new modes, four new characters to bring the total number of characters up to 20, a fully rebalanced existing cast, and one minor addition to the base gameplay. The new modes are all welcome additions: Chronicles mode, serving as a sort of prologue to the story in each character’s Arcade mode, which is unchanged from UNIEL; Tutorial, providing an extensive and in-depth explanation of the game’s mechanics; and Missions, which are combo challenges and general tactics for each character. The new characters help round out the cast more, which was rather lacking in UNIEL.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] | Merkava and Vatista

The shadow monster is doing terrible things to that small girl.

The tutorial and missions in particular were much-needed additions, given that the Under Night In-Birth series has some rather unusual mechanics, and the gameplay is somewhat different from other anime fighters. The tutorial is incredibly extensive, more than any other fighting game I’ve ever seen. It covers everything from basic movement and inputs, to more advanced topics such as okizeme (actions when your opponent recovers from an attack), different ways of using the Veil Off and Chain Shift mechanics, and others, both mechanics unique to UNIST and ones that are important for anime fighters or even fighting games in general. While it may not have the flair of the tutorial in Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2, the amount to be potentially learned from it is fantastic. The missions consist of around 25 combos per character, along with 5-8 brief tutorials on the tools the character has for different situations such as the opponent blocking, anti-air attacks, and breaking your opponent’s guard. Each combo is accompanied by a short description of its intended use, and according to a friend who played the Japanese version the combos are optimized and viable for use in-game, which is somewhat unusual for in-game combo challenges. More fighting games should take inspiration from UNIST’s tutorial and combo missions; it would make the genre more accessible by making it easier for new players to learn more about the mechanics and characters in-game.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] | Phonon in-mission

A combo tutorial that has actual application in real gameplay? What is this madness?

In terms of gameplay, very little has been changed from UNIEL. Although the cast has been rebalanced, the only new mechanic is Cross Cast Veil Off, allowing characters to cancel attacks into Veil Off in order to extend combos. Ultimately, it’s not that huge of an addition, similar to using burst mid-combo in other games like Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax or Dragon Ball FighterZ. Although I did play some of UNIEL, I didn’t play enough to notice any significant differences in most of the gameplay, aside from a few slightly modified inputs. Gameplay in general is significantly more grounded than many other anime fighters, since only two characters can double jump and only one has an aerial backdash. This severely limits air combo potential, meaning that combos tend to include a launcher followed by a hard knockdown to continue on the ground. It’s a different system than I’m used to, and that’s putting aside all the unusual mechanics, namely everything associated with the game’s GRD system, like Vorpal states and Chain Shift.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] | In-game spectating

This is a game that’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to play.

More Fighting on Page 2 ->

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.

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