For the record, I'm not trying to erase everything I've done in the past by battling you, all right?
If you ever asked me if there was a fighting game that deserves more attention, one of my answers would be UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] (UNIclr). It was made by French Bread, the same company who made the Melty Blood and Arc System Works games. This fighting game has been seemingly overshadowed by all the other fighting games. While it is known throughout the community, it hasn’t really had its time to shine. I recently decided to start picking up this game again thanks to its sequel that is coming out early next year.
Pros and Cons
- Remarkably interesting story that has a lot of depth
- Surprisingly good amount of single-player content from Chronicles mode
- Fun gameplay that is simple to pick up but hard to master
- 22 different characters for you to play as
- Beautiful art style that captures a city-like night feel
- Your special move’s damage is dependent on your last attack
- Online net code is terrible
- There is a bug in the lobby system if someone does not leave properly
Once a month, there is this night that takes place in the city known as The Hollow Night. During this time, Voids, who are invisible creatures most of the time, come out and feed on any humans they see and all electronic devices are also rendered useless - except for lights. The Hollow Night is nice enough to let the citizens see. Only those who survive an attack from the Voids and keep their sanity, shall be given a special power called EXS and be called an In-birth.
That is the starting point for the whole story, the rest of it is followed through in the Chronicles mode. The story for UNIclr is remarkably interesting and there is actually a good amount of single-player content thanks to Chronicles mode. There are at least 30 hours of it, if not more as you have to go through 22 characters and learn about their side of the story before the events of arcade mode. The story is presented in a visual novel style.
There are a total of 22 characters for you to play as, with one of those characters being a paid DLC that you can purchase. Each character has their own movesets and abilities that they can utilize. The game is easy to pick up but it can be hard to master and there are characters specifically great for those who are just that starting out. The most interesting thing about this game is that there are two guest characters. That being Sion Eltnam Atlasia from Melty Blood and Akatsuki from the Akatsuki Blitzkampf franchise, which is one of the only representations that the game will get in the West.
Moving along to the match UI, there is this small gauge that you will see on the bottom of the screen called the Grind Grid or the GRD Gauge for short. This gauge will show the amount of GRD blocks that you have. You gain these blocks by doing any move that makes you move forward or by doing damage. You will lose it by running backward, when you take damage, attacks are blocked, or when your grabs are countered. It is possible to break the GRD gauge, this happens when you use the wrong shield to block. You also can’t go into Vorpal state when this happens, and your chain shift is also unavailable.
You can also use your concentration ability to charge your EXS gauge, which will let you pull off your special attacks when used. Vorpal state is when your character has a blue aura around them, while also raising the damage you deal by 10%.
Chain shift is only usable in your Vorpal state but is one of the most important tools in the game as you can use it for both offense and defense. You gain EXS depending on the amount of GRD you have. Although Assault has a higher priority than Chain Shift, which is your command air dash, the start of it has a period where you can’t do anything.
Although it’s the biggest risk that you can’t use an aerial block or shield while you are doing this. Your moves during this mode will also do less damage than they usually do and any moves while you are on the ground can’t be canceled at all.
The final gameplay feature I must explain is Veil Off, when you have at least 100 EXS, you can go into this state that slowly consumes EXS. You can freely use all your moves that would consume it and you can combo with them. You are also invincible while you are in this state and your damage of all your moves goes up by 20%.
Overall, the gameplay is incredibly fun and the mechanics are simple once you understand and learn them. My favorite characters to play are Akatsuki, Seth, Byakuya, and Wagner. There are a few others but they are my top favorites.
A Few Cons
I do have three small issues with UNIclr that should be noted. The first issue I have is a minor one, but your special move damage is dependent on the last attack you used. So, if you used a weak attack as your last one and then use your special move, you are only going to be doing a small amount of damage. Not a huge issue but if I am doing a special attack, especially the hard-to-pull ones, I want it to matter in terms of damage. This is the only fighting game that I know does this but if anyone knows of any others, they can tell me in the comments below.
The last two issues have to do with the online portion of the game. The net code is terrible and is pretty much the reason this game is not super big. However, there is a Discord that you can join that is active so if you want to play some online, I highly recommend you join that place. The last issue is that if someone does not leave a lobby properly, it may end up breaking the entire lobby and you must recreate it again. This stems from the players not appearing in the lobby for some reason. I don’t know how it fully works but someone can tell me in the comments below if they know
Graphics and Performance
The art style for the game is really nice. It captures a city-like night feel very well and I love it. The game runs nice, and you only need a decent computer to play it. I played the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM.
UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] is an incredibly fun fighting game that I wish got more attention as it deserves. It’s incredibly fun and the roster of characters it has is special in it's own ways. There is a lot of singleplayer content, which is a bit rare for fighting games out there and is genuinely a nice touch. UNIclr still has an active an loyal community making it easy to find players to test your skills against so if you are a fan of fighting games and are ready to invest time into it, grabbing this title even at full price is well worth the investment.