Thanks to Aksys Games for the review code
Title: Under Night In-Birth: EXE Late cl-r
Release Date: 02/20/2020
In a world where dark creatures known as Voids emerge once a month, it’s up to several heroes who are tasked with taking them out on the Hollow Night in order to save the day, and stop devastating forces from using the night to cause chaos and devastation. There is a chronicle mode that goes more into the backstory to the game, but it’s rather basic and a bit convoluted, so there really isn’t much of an engaging story to say the least.
Under Night sports a fantastically made anime art style, not unlike games such as Blazblue or Guilty Gear. Likewise, you should expect similar outstanding animations and details in all the characters, leading to fights looking like a pure joy to watch. However, while this is also a game made under the Arc umbrella, this wasn’t made by either the BB or GG teams, but rather a completely separate team from Arc itserlf that had previously made the Melty Blood series, and they’ve done an impressive job here.
Having only previously played the first console version, EXE Late, most of the characters and stages that originated that version remain the same, animations, designs and all. The characters that came out from ST are also here, and as a newcomer to that content they all look and fit in just as well with the rest of the cast, along with the new-to-CLR Londrekia.
The music is also outstanding, with notable themes including Orie, Vestia, Hilda’s, and the two vocal intro tracks, and there’s solid Japanese voice acting all around, too.
Under Night is your typical one on one fighter, and while it may look like a ripoff of Blazblue at first glance, especially with the same four-button attack system, this one definitely isn’t, and does a lot of cool things that makes it stand out on its own. You do have three main attack buttons, along with a special button that can be used to unleash the Unlimited Worth attack when your meter is at 100 or above.
Like with most fighting games, each character has their own special moves, executed via special commands, although the ones in Under Night seem to be a bit more simple than most other fighters. You do have the usual quarter circle and charge attacks, but with the four-button system, attacks are much simpler than using three punches and three kicks.
In fact, the only things that really matter are the A and B buttons, since those equal to a weak and strong attack, while the C button is used for stronger normal moves, and EX versions of the special commands. The D button’s used to charge up a vorpal gauge that can increase your strength, or be held while walking backwards to create a barrier.
Since each button doesn’t have their own special move sets associated to them, that makes the game very fun to get into and easier to pick up and play, without dumbing down or simplifying combat nearly as much as stuff like Blade Strangers. This was all mostly accurate for the older version I played on PS3 too, (Exe Late) but in Clr there have been a lot of balancing edits, some inherited from ST, some being all new, so while these mechanics feel familiar to me after my lapse in play, they still hold up remarkably well.
Compared to Late, ST/CLR added quite a few new modes too. While Score Attack, Time Attack and Arcade return, there’s a huge in-depth tutorial mode that offers guides on nearly every single tech imaginable. This tutorial is ultra crazy, detailed, and one of the more impressive fighting game tutorials I’ve seen in recent years. There’s also an expanded gallery, a mission mode with plenty of combo challenges to take up, and a Chronicle mode that gives a lot of backstory going over the whole main cast of the game.
However, while these were all added as part of ST, CLR itself doesn’t really amount to much new. The balancing changes are there, as is the new character Londrekia, but in all honestly, this is more or less a DLC-complete edition of ST, so if you own that one, then you’re better off buying the DLC upgrade that’ll add CLR content to ST, including the character. There’s still a lot of fun to be had here, and the combat is incredibly fun and leads to tons of enjoyable fighting action.
Unfortunately, I lack PS Plus, so I couldn’t test any of the online features outside of leaderboards. Other players have confirmed though, that the netcode is still lacking rollback and is pretty poor, so if that was a major hope for you wanting to upgrade, then you can forget about that.
In conclusion, Under Night is still a fantastic fighter all these years later. The fluid combat, fun character roster, enjoyable gameplay and simple commands create a more accessible fighter that keeps the balance of things just right, and the updates CLR add make this an outstanding version of the game.
While it doesn’t add as much as ST did, if you’re like me and only played Late, or never played any prior versions of the game, then this is still absolutely the one to go with, and is one that’s fairly fun to pick up and learn too, thanks to the crazy in-depth tutorial and huge gallery of content to unlock. Just don’t expect much of a bump up of content if you played ST previously, especially on PS3 or Vita.
I give Under-Night In Birth: EXE Cl-r an 8 out of 10.