UNDER NIGHT: IN-BIRTH - EXE:LATE
By Kevin "Methodone89" van Dongen on March 3, 2015
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late is a hidden gem in the 2D fighter genre, that is often overshadowed by the towering Champions of said genre. It has its own unique style and characters, and that's exactly what sets it apart.
From the creators of Melty Blood comes Under Night In-Birth - Exe:Late, a brand-new 2D fighting game filled with fast-paced action, original characters, and several twisted plot lines. This is an updated version of the original game, which launched exclusively in Japanese arcades. New playable characters are present in this version, as well as new game mechanics, game modes, and stages. The game is developed by ARC system works and French-Bread, and is published by NIS America( Nippon Ichi Software inc.), primarily known for the Disgaea and Atelier series.
"Under Night In-Birth takes place in modern day Japan with a “slightly” fictional setting. A phenomenon called the Hollow Night has been enveloping particular regions of Japan once a month for several centuries. Each area engulfed in the Hollow Night is beset by shadow-like creatures called Voids that utilize and feed upon a power known as "Existence". Normal humans cannot see or come into contact with Voids, but certain people have the potential to perceive them. Those who acquire this perception are targeted by Voids and risk either being consumed by them or losing their sanity. A special kind of person who maintains their sanity after being attacked by a Void can become a being known as an In-Birth. While this status places a person into a sort of limbo, where they are neither living nor dead, they also gain the ability to control Existence."
The protagonist, Hyde, is one character who survived a Void attack and became an In-Birth. One day he is attacked by "Shadows who devour people". Up till that point, he had only heard rumors about them, and now he faces them in a life or death fight. It seemed like all was lost, but Hyde is saved by Linne. Hyde doesn't lose his sanity and awakens to the power of EXS. Linne is amazed that this boy possesses the power she has been searching for for a long time, and decides to train the boy. At the same time, recent events have drawn a mysterious witch's attention to the boy. After deciding to train Hydet, Linne, her pet Kuu and a mysterious old man move to Hyde's home. They teach Hyde all about the Hollow Night and the Power of Existence, relentlessly training him so he will be ready when the next Hollow Night arrives.
Unlike most Fighting games, Under Night In-Birth doesn’t have a tutorial, which makes the answer to the question: 'how do I steer this thing' remain a big mystery. A mystery you have to solve yourself. At first glance, the game looks and feels simple and easy, mashing the weak attack button(square) will instantly give you a combo, better known in this game as a Smart Steer. All the special moves are the well-known, quarter circle moves like in other fighting games, and hitting the move with Strong Attack once your meter is full, results in an EX version of this move. Knowing this was good enough to complete arcade mode on the standard setting, but didn’t feel like I achieved something, I hungered for more.
What about all those gauges at the bottom of the screen? How much hits can you land in a combo? Are there any other special game mechanics we have not yet discovered?
Well, none of these are in any way explained during the game, so we had to look these up on the internet. The gauges aren’t actually that big of a deal, apart from being really fancy-looking. And fancy looking they are, that’s for sure. These gauges represent the superiority in battle, and being superior to your opponent will give you a Vorpal State; a state in which you have some benefits such as increased attack. You can perform an Infinite Worth, an all-powerful attack which uses all of you EXE gauge, and can only be performed when the EXE gauge is at 200% or when you are in Veil Off. You can use Veil Off once your EXE gauge reaches 100% and can be used by pressing all the attack buttons at the same time, this state will knock back your enemy and grants you invincibility, as well as an increase in the effectiveness of your abilities. The Infinite Worth EXS is the most powerful attack at your disposal an can be done if you have less than 30% health remaining, during your Veil Off state or if you have 200% EXE gauge. This move is performed by pressing all 4 buttons(attack and EXS action) together. There are also some other key mechanics like Force function, guard break, shield, and more, but I will leave these a mystery for now. You will just have to find out for yourself what they do and how to use them.
After my eye-opening web search I wanted to try out some of these techniques for myself and started playing through some of the other game modes: Score Attack, Time Attack, survival and of course online multiplayer. Once you know what’s what and find out that there are more than enough game changing mechanics at your disposal, Under Night In-Birth becomes a great and deeply engrossing fighting game, with stunning visuals and a more than intriguing story.