In an age where creating bigger and more complex fighting systems in video games are the mainstream, sometimes it’s nice just to kick back with something simple while also satisfying our graphically spoiled minds. This is where “Under Night In-Birth” steps into the scene. Originally a 2012 arcade release, and now a 2018 console release, Under Night is an entertaining and satisfying experience that doesn’t need to rely on complicated fighting mechanics.
This isn’t to say Under Night is simple to the point of becoming a master in one day. Compared to the “Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm” series, it’s actually quite in depth. However, compared to its similar 2D anime style counterparts such as “Persona 4 Arena” and “Blazblue,” it doesn’t require as much mastery. It’s also safe to say Under Night is a lot more focused on defense than the latter. Again, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It can be a lot more inviting to casual players, as Under Night’s limited competitive scene makes it easy for those who’d like to step foot into the fighting-game scene.
The game only offers twenty characters to play as, which for modern times isn’t going to satisfy most. As diverse as the cast is, it’s important to have a healthy number of fighters to choose from to keep the game fresh for a long time. The characters that are available are full of life and personality. This is further emphasized in the game’s arcade mode where most fights will begin with humorous character dialogue. It’s always nice to have these elements that make a game come to life; it makes the characters feel like actual individuals rather than moving hitboxes.
Each character appropriately fits their playing style as well. The calm and oblivious Vatista relies on magic and traps, and the ominous scary looking Merkava relies on manipulating his limbs and releases black magic to attack. A clear means of distinction makes the characters enjoyably memorable and can help make picking your main a lot easier. Top it all off with a soundtrack so painfully underrated, and you have a fighting game with a surprising turnout in the presentation.
Some fighting games require you to memorize complex and intimidating button combinations under strict circumstances, but luckily in Under Night, most of the combos are beginner friendly and satisfyingly flashy. Furthermore, the game’s defensive nature can give players a rewarding feeling for pulling off certain conversions. The game does heavily promote defensive playing, however, so the combos are kept at a minimum. You’ll find that a lot of your most intense matches includes a lot of crouch-blocking and air canceling. This isn’t to say it doesn’t promote some aggression as well thanks to the GRP meters at the bottom of the screen. Whoever decides to inch closer to the other player will be rewarded with a greater GRP meter, leading you to go into the Vorpal state which in turn, you can go into a Chain Shift state. Air dodging, defense, and offense are all significantly buffed in this state.
This may all sound complicated, but it’s all just a fancy way of saying the more aggressive you are, the stronger you’ll be in a match. This peculiar incentive to play defensively and offensively simultaneously is what gives the game its entertaining yet intense experience. It’ll make you feel like a pro, even if you are just button mashing. Everyone is guaranteed to enjoy something out of the game mechanically.
Under Night: In-Birth is a fighting game for just about anyone. If you’re completely new and would like something to start you off, this game will walk you through the fundamentals. If you’re already a seasoned veteran and fighting game champion, you can take a load off and remember that fighting games are all about having fun.