Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], I’m going to refer to it as UNIEL for short, is a 2D anime fighter / visual novel. Let me preface this article by saying, I have not played the previous versions of the game so the story and characters were completely unfamiliar to me which turned out to be a problem for me in terms of enjoying and understanding the story. Fans of the series will likely have a different experience from a story perspective than me.
The main protagonists of the game are Hyde and Linne, although there are 18 other playable fighters. The story is set in a universe where humans with special powers called Existence (EXS) are targeted by monsters called Voids. Once a month on the Hollow Night, Voids will enter the world to feed on human with EXS. If a human survives an attack they can become an In-Birth, a human able to control their EXS power. Hyde is an In-Birth trained by Lynne and in possession of the legendary Insulator sword and together they must defeat a powerful demon called Paradox.
The fighting roster is made up of other In-Births, Voids and members of organisations with their own agendas. The story and lore is pretty interesting, the problem is that I had to read a lot of the background online to get an idea of the plot. The game doesn’t do a great job of explaining what’s going on. There is an arcade mode where you choose your fighter and every few battles you are provided with a dialogue scene and there is another mode called Chronicles which is basically a visual novel mode. After reading up on the story online it started making much more sense and I became interested in the different characters, but it’s a shame that to enjoy the game’s story I had to look externally to figure out what was going on.
While I’m talking about story, the Chronicles mode contains 22 stories each focusing on one character and each story is split into 1-4 chapters. They provide some additional information on each character and how they arrived in the same location on the Hollow Night that you play through in arcade mode. I found this mode quite dull at times. The story was interesting but it was pure text and no gameplay or interactivity whatsoever. I also noticed spelling mistakes on occasion. I would have preferred an approach like Injustice’s story mode where there is story followed by a fight and then more story. It would have broken up the overly long dialog.
The gameplay is where UNIEL shines. I’m not a 2D fighter connoisseur but I’ve always been a fan of the genre. I’ve been playing the game for around 6 hours so far and I’ve found UNEIL’s fast action made the arcade mode a lot of fun to play. Getting to grips with the game and learning the characters was straight forward but mastering all the fighters and systems will take a lot of practice.
The different fighters ranged from fast and agile with weak attacks to slow and strong as you expect in a fighting game, but the style, character designs and personalities made me want to experiment with all of them. There is also score attack, time attack, survival and tutorial modes to play through. Completing every mode will provide hours of play time. As I was playing a review copy of the game I wasn’t able to test the online mode. I tried to search for matches but didn’t find anyone online at the times I was online.
The graphics look great and I really liked the anime style. The characters and stage backgrounds all looked excellent on the Vita screen. The sound track was decent with some catchy J-Pop tunes.
Overall, UNIEL is a solid fighter and I really enjoyed playing the game. The story is interesting but others new to the series may have the same experience as me and find it hard to follow without going online to look for information. In my time with the game, I didn’t find any slow down or performance issues playing it on the PS Vita. If you like fighting games like Blazblue then you’ll likely have a good time with UNIEL.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] will be released for PS Vita, PS3 and PS4 in North America and Europe on February 9, 2018.
Check out the Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] PS Vita Preview: