Jun 25, 2017 Last Updated 1:48 PM, Jun 24, 2017

Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late Review

Published in Action
Read 1669 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Tagged under

Fans of Japanese animation are familiar with the niche of visual novels being paired together with fighting games.

Two notable titles under this hybrid genre are BlazBlue and Melty Blood. French Bread was one of the responsible developers for Melty Blood, and Under Night IN-BIRTH Exe:Late is another famous creation with much of their involvement. After being available on consoles and arcades for a few years, the game finally comes to PC gamers on Steam.

Under Night's strength lies mostly in its diverse roster, and I've enjoyed much of the fighting play style. When I say diversity, I mean the differences between character move sets. Of the sixteen playable characters, each has little overlap with the others. Attacks come out at various speeds and distances, while projectiles approach using different angles and sizes. The character I've been best at, Hilda, summons massive clock hands that appear and strike at enemies from different parts of the screen. She's almost entirely ranged. I have to make sure the enemy stands at the right spots in order to hit with her attacks. Another character with positioning strategies is Carmine, whose gimmick involves leaving puddles of blood on the floor that act as traps.

Apart from the move sets, there's also great diversity found in design. The characters have vivid sprites that look expressive while also being clear with where their attacks are striking. Idle animations are filled with natural and exaggerated motion, especially around clothing. I can spot the separate frames when attacks and movements are being made, but they flow together so well that I need to actively look for it to notice. The sharp frame transitions are a necessary part of competitive fighters; I'm glad the controls feel responsive without animations suffering for it.

Keyboard controls are hard to get used to.

I recommend using a controller since Under Night originated from console systems. It's a shame I couldn't use my mouse to click through menus since that might've made the keyboard more viable. Arcade controls might be an option as well, but I've never been invested enough in fighters to get my own. Four buttons initiate the moves, while the joystick and directional pad let me move around. Holding buttons also activates certain moves. It's a standard setup; I was already familiar with these controls, so jumping right in wasn't a problem.

The modes available on the main menu are plentiful. There are several score-centric options for single player and the dreaded network mode for multiplayer. It is dreaded because Under Night is a PC release of something that has been around, and many experienced players are waiting to crush newcomers. The ease with which the veterans crushed me is a harsh way to show how high the skill ceiling can be. Button mashing through here is only possible in a couple of modes, and never works in multiplayer.

Button mashing becomes outright impossible once the difficulty setting is turned up to its maximum. The combos possible here can go for some time. The amount of hits displayed on the screen also comes with a number representing damage. Single hits tend to be in the low hundreds. The highest combo damage I've seen was over six thousand, done to me by a level five AI. It happened over the course of several seconds. This hybrid genre has some of the fastest paced combat. It's something to get used to, and many of my reactions eventually felt more like instinct.

Beyond the characters, the intro to every fight is one of the most distinctive I've ever seen or heard. It opens with intense music which brings out loads of anticipation and excitement. Character portraits are zoomed in and splashed with surging colors to emphasize the feud between them. Tiny words are sprinkled all over the place to add a bit of story flavor. It's a short intro that only lasts a few seconds, but it embodies the nature of a fight.

Fighting is basically all anything is centered on.

The story is bare, despite being counted as a visual novel. Using a character through the arcade mode unlocks fragments of the plot, all the way until I reached the end credits. It's mostly a collection of dialogue between the characters on the roster. Due to the limited amount of people involved, the setting also centers on a single goal and area. I have nothing here to dive into. Though the appearance designs are great, I can't connect too much with everyone's personalities.

2D fighters have a comfortable place in the industry. Even many AAA titles default to the setup, even if their character models are 3D. Though Under Night isn't as smooth as more advanced models might let them be, in exchange I got to experience fast fights with a lot of intensity. Additionally, this simpler graphics allows this game to be played on most platforms, including my laptop. Fighting friends I hung with in person is the most fun I had, and being able to carry it around on my laptop is what allowed it to happen.


The Verdict

I'm giving Under Night IN-BIRTH Exe:Late a 9 out of 10. It was concise, enjoyable, and thoroughly exciting. I've only won one online match, so I wouldn't recommend unfamiliar players to go through that. The single player modes are varied enough for a person to get the full experience, minus the highest difficulty of fighting experienced players. There are a lot of fun characters with different skills and abilities for a person to toy around with and master. If you're able to play alongside friends, you'll definitely be in for competitive fun.

Paris Forge

I am Paris Forge, a child of the PC age. The net has been a part of my life since surfing on Netzero dial-up at the turn of the millennium. I've begun to rely on it a bit more than I probably should, but it's a wonderful world. Writing is a huge part of my work. I have authored several articles and stories, and enjoy writing in my spare time. PC gaming is among my favorite sources of entertainment, and I find immense value in learning from an interactive environment.

Related items


    The smoothness of play and the multitude of fighters from which to choose provide a near excellent time. But, unless a friend’s available for a local versus match, or you’re willing to play online, the initial excitement diminishes after the fourth- or fifth-dozenth round — though this not atypical for the genre. Regardless, fighter-gamers amongst us will walk away satisfied from The King of Fighters XIV.

  • Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs Review

    Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs wins time and again with unexpected surprises, character development, and fresh plot. With a sharp, sarcastic tone like Shrek, and a generally disinterested atmosphere like One Punch Man, Regalia: of Men and Monarchs is a treasure trove of snark, swears, and mild innuendo. An ending that surely comes too soon leaves you hoping for a potential sequel to meet, once more, Kay and his merry band of flawed friends.

  • TEKKEN 7 Review

    TEKKEN 7 is well thought-out and produced — to the level of awe. TEKKEN 7 punches the stereotype of simplistic arcade fighters right in the face, and establishes itself as the gold standard that will be difficult to unseat for quite a while.

Latest Shows

OPN DevLounge Mo…

Episode Six, Season One! OPN's DevLounge Monthly is a lively conversation between game developers on Twitch, on the hottest PC games to be released this upcoming month. Watch it on...

Black the Fall I…

After decades of toil, an old machinist plots his escape from Communism, through manipulation and scheming. Along the road, he befriends the most unlikely creature, an abandoned ro...

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

Danganronpa Anot…

Komaru Naegi has been imprisoned inside a mysterious apartment for over a year. Her rescue is derail...

The Golf Club 2

Rise to fame and fortune in the largest, most dynamic golf game ever created. Assemble and join onli...


A New World From the Creators of Bastion and Transistor, Pyre is a party-based RPG in which you lead...

Cladun Returns: …

Cladun Returns This is Sengoku achieves what it sets out to be with an apparent abundance of effort on the part of the developers. However, Cladun is not for everyone, and probably...

Rezrog Review

There are noticeable problems that detracted from the enjoyment of Rezrog: especially the mana consumption/potion issue. Despite the issues, Rezrog is an engaging experience in its...

Subject A-119 Re…

Subject A-119 makes a strong showing with a variety of abilities, but the puzzles, through mechanical and logical limitations, quickly fatigue the player. Puzzle addicts might be t...

Gorescript Revie…

With sparse environments that burst into color as the action unfolds, solid level design, and a low hand-holding, high satisfaction difficulty curve, Gorescript is already a title ...