Game Title: Under Night In-Birth Exe Latest
Developer: Arc System Works, PQube, Aksys Games
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Availability: Digital Download
Download: 3.1 GB
PSTV Support: No
Arc System Fighters are the talk of the gaming world right now, with Dragon Ball FighterZ out and their first huge cross-over coming this Summer. While Switch handheld fans are looking forward to the latter, gamers who still have their Vita lying around somewhere can jump into Arc System Fighting Action early, as one of the franchises included in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle just hit the Vita and PS4 this week in both North America and Europe.
That game is the latest update for Under Night In-Birth, the oddly-named Arc System Works game from the PlayStation 3 era that just seemed to drop under the radar until recently. With new characters, balancing, and especially a Visual Novel-style Story Mode, Vita fans may want to take note.
Without further delay, here is my review of Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] for the PlayStation Vita!
There are two realms in the Under Night universe. The real world and the “Night”, a world filled with strange energy that allows monsters called Voids to pass through into our realm. These monsters feast on the souls of humans who wander through a portal into the Night, killing many and corrupting others, bestowing upon them supernatural energy known as EXS, turning them into Weilders, otherwise known as In-Births.
These In-Births create organizations and flaunt their magical powers, fighting in Turf Wars with other organizations and some seek even greater power. The story of Under Night In-Birth revolves around one such leader that aims to gain Ultimate Power to destroy all who stand against her in the Night and many groups and clans that mobilize to stop her
As great as that summary may seem, Under Night’s first two versions dropped terminology in the Arcade Mode Story Scenes, but offered little to no explanation of any of the organizations, powers, characters, etc. It was a fighting game where the story made no sense because nothing was explained to you. This version, however, gives us Chronicles Mode, a 22-chapter Visual Novel that gives you backstories for all playable characters, an origin story into the lore of Under Night’s world, and explanations of how everyone gets to where they are when the Arcade Mode’s story begins.
I loved the info and lore dump of Chronicles Mode, but there is a rather obvious nitpick that I need to make here. The game’s translation is full of typos and errors. I don’t typically get bothered if there’s an incorrect word or spelling mistake here and there, but there are a lot in this game. After about 4 chapters of the VN Mode, I started counting and by the time I finished the story, I’d come across well over 120 mistakes, from spelling errors to incorrect word placement.
Do note that this is based upon the Europe version of the game. I do not know whether or not the Aksys Games NA version is the same, but I’ll definitely let you know once I find out.
As many like to claim, Under Night In-Birth is a 2D Fighting Game that doubles as a Visual Novel. You play the game by going through the game’s many game modes to fight in 2D fighting battles with various combos and other elements, plus a standard Visual Novel style of gameplay when going through Chronicles Mode.
Speaking of Chronicles Mode, this is the 3rd version of Under Night In-Birth after the original game and the PS3 update dubbed Exe: Late. This new version adds new playable characters, balancing issues and, most importantly, a new Story Mode known as Chronicles Mode, adding a huge amount of backstory and lore, not only cementing this game as a time-sink, but also preparing gamers for the Under Night characters that are to appear in this year’s upcoming cross-over, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.
The other Game Modes are your typical 2D Fighting Game scenario. You have a bunch of game modes, like Arcade Mode for the game’s Story Finale, Training for learning characters, Time Attack Modes for a different way of playing, a Gallery for media and, of course, Ad Hoc and Online Multiplayer Modes to play against other humans instead of just the game’s AI.
While Chronicles Mode is a full VN without any fighting thrown in at all, the other game modes utilize a 2D fighting system very similar to the likes of Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and other Arc System Works games. You have three different kind of attacks and all of the characters come with their own combos that chain together differently.
What makes this stand out from many other fighters is how well it is balanced. Characters combo differently and require you to actually learn their combos outside of low-difficulty runs to see the Story aspect of Arcade Mode. The game’s main heroine, Linne, proves to be easy to link combos with button mashing with while the more minor characters like Yuzu or Phonon prove to be a much more difficult challenge to learn to be competent with.
Outside of combos, there are other gameplay systems like the EXS system where you can charge up your energy, similar to how you can charge Ki in Dragon Ball fighting games and enter special modes where your character-oriented Ultimate Attacks can be used for huge amounts of damage.
Before concluding this section, how long is this game? I spent a lot of time making sure to get accurate readings of the different chapters of Chronicles Mode as well as the Arcade story for each of the 20 playable characters. If you want to see the entire storyline, the game should take you no less than 25-30 hours, which is more than twice the amount of content length the previous versions of Under Night had to offer. If you get into lore, you’ll have a lot to do and see.
Many gamers will be sad to know that this game is NOT COMPATIBLE with the PlayStation TV. There is no real reason for this, but as of right now, the Europe Version I reviewed is not compatible with the PSTV.
Controlling the game is pretty easy. Once you’re in combat, you can use the Left Analog Stick or D-Pad to move and all the other buttons are used for attacks. The face buttons are used for each type of attack and the shoulder buttons are shortcuts for combo attacks, like hitting Heavy and Light at the same time.
If it doesn’t fit your style, the game lets you fully customize the controls to however you wish to have them, even giving you options to use the touch screen for certain button combinations.
The graphics of this game is something that has bugged me since I first booted it up. When you go into battle, the battle renders look very unpolished. They’re full of jagged edges and blurriness. Despite this being a 2D game from last gen, it lacks the polish of previous PS Vita Arc System games, like BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. It looks more like a PSP Arc System game. This doesn’t hurt the fluidity of combat, but it just doesn’t look nearly as good as even the original PS3 game did.
The Visual Novel mode, however, looks exceptional. All of the backgrounds and character renders in Chronicles Mode look absolutely perfect.
Performance is something I have no issues with. I’ve played the game for well over 30 hours at this point, and I’ve never had any problems, be it loading sequences, or frame-rate.
In conclusion, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] is a game that is for fighting fans as well as Visual Novel fans. Despite the translation and graphical issues I have with the game, it is a fun fighting game with tons of game modes and more lore and story content than some VN games offer. If you’re a fan of either genre, it’s well worth your money.