UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] Review

Release Date
February 20, 2020
Developed By
FRENCH-BREAD, Arc System Works
Published By
Aksys Games
PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH has made a huge splash among fighting game fans. With the developer FRENCH-BREAD’s experience with Melty Blood, slick captivating characters, and accessible yet deep combat, it is no wonder that the game has taken off. We previously have seen UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late, Exe:Late[st], and now [cl-r], which is the series’ third console iteration. This iteration marks the series’ debut on the Nintendo Switch. As with any fighting game revision, the game features new additions. The new character Londrekia, new colors, and new unlockable gallery entries compellingly provide reasons to revisit UNDER NIGHT. Having a brand new move for each and every character really shakes things up. [cl-r] features plenty of content from earlier versions, but it’s nonetheless worthwhile for series veterans and especially for those remotely interested in anime-styled fighting games.

One of UNDER NIGHT‘s renowned features is its rich lore. The universe is supernatural and modern, and the Hollow Night is a recurring phenomenon that envelops a given area. It’s full of dangerous Voids that feast upon mortals, and those who survive Voids’ attacks become In-Births. Multiple factions such as the Night Blade, Licht Kreis, and Paradox come into conflict as they differ in their methods about dealing with the Hollow Night. 

UNDER NIGHT is fundamentally a one-on-one fighter in which the characters utilize a variety of normal, special, and super moves to take out their opponents. The game’s ABCD button layout is familiar and easy to understand. It is comprised of Light, Medium, and Heavy Attacks alongside an EXS button that performs actions like shielding, charging, and advancing. A few key features really create some high-octane situations. The GRD Grid in the middle of the screen is a tug-of-war that rewards offensive play. When the circular timer fills after 16 seconds, the player with more gauge enters a Vorpal state that provides offensive buffs and more meter building options. These features really keep the combat fresh and unique. Players have plenty of options like performing character-specific Force Functions and boosting specific attacks by holding down a button. Many specials can be performed with any of the three primary buttons, and the moves’ motions follow established fighting game conventions. With straightforward commands and unique mechanics, the game is easy to learn and features plenty of fast-paced action and considerable depth. 

With plenty of modes and unlockables, the game is jam-packed with content. It includes a standard Arcade Mode, a Chronicles Mode full of backstory insights, Score Attack, Time Attack, and Survival Mode. The Tutorial Mode returns from Exe:Late[st], which is still one of the most comprehensive teaching tools in fighting game history. It has nearly two hundred lessons ranging from movement all the way to mind games. Players can also pick up some new combos from Mission Mode, which is conveniently divided into different sets of difficulty levels. Gallery Mode also returns, but [cl-r] features much more content to unlock than previous games. It practically has 1.5x the amount of content from Exe:Late[st], and this time players can unlock concept art, early drafts, and new promotional art. Each character also has ten new universal colors, which ups the number to a staggering forty colors. The game also features ranked and casual online modes, and rooms can have up to eight players with a substantial variety of selectable options. Players can also now configure controls on the character select screen, which is a fantastic quality of life change. UNDER NIGHT will keep players engaged with its sheer amount of content and unlockables.

As one can imagine, UNDER NIGHT has some crazy characters that include weapon users, pugilists, and even those who use blood and summons to attack. The new new character Londrekia rounds out the roster at twenty-one, and he fits perfectly with the existing roster. Londrekia is a lot of fun to use as he has ice-based projectiles alongside an advancing attack that has height variations depending on the button used. He can then perform follow-ups based on the next button press as well. His style basically looks like dance with a bit of influence from figure skating.

However, Londrekia is not the only star of the show. Everyone has a brand new move or chargeable attack. Hilda can hover in the air, which can throw off opponents that might try to attack her as she descends. Hyde can now perform a full-screen laser after his typical projectile, which can really catch opponents off guard. Vatista is a projectile-based character who normally requires charging motions for her moves, but she can now enter a stance and then perform some of these moves with a directional input and a button. All of these additional new attacks are fun to try. While they may seem minor on the surface, they compellingly expand characters’ repertoire in a way that results in brand new mind games. 

Of course, the game’s visuals and audio are well-crafted. The characters’ pixel-art sprites have still aged well even over several years, and the backgrounds and hand-drawn dialogue portraits are vibrant. The brand new menu design is cleanly put together and easy to read. Furthermore, the fast-paced music is quite compelling and catchy as well. Yuzuriha’s theme “Walking Lily Flower” is insanely upbeat and catchy, and Gordeau’s “Rushing Heart” is full of frenetic guitar riffs that will certainly energize players. Another fantastic addition is being able to select “Unknown Actor” in combat. As Exe:Late[st]‘s theme song, it features some dramatic vocals. 

UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH is a fantastic fighting game that has only become better with [cl-r]. Despite being a revision, it still feels like a substantial upgrade. Its tweaks may seem relatively minor on the surface, but the way they round out the package feels solid and meaningful. This game will empower anyone who wants to experience some anime-inspired fighting action, and it is a complete package that will lead to endlessly engrossing single-player, local, and online matches. We wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone remotely interested in fighting games or anime.



UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] Review
UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] Review
UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] is full of modes and unlockable content that will undoubtedly entertain anyone remotely interested in anime-styled fighting games. The new character Londrekia, new moves, and additional content compellingly expand the already substantial UNDER NIGHT experience.
• A diverse roster full of characters with distinct play styles and appearances
• A lot of unlockable gallery entries, colors, and player card options
• Well-crafted pixel art and incredibly catchy tunes
• Everyone has a new move that feels impactful
• Contains some of the best tutorials in fighting game history
• The new character Londrekia is a lot of fun and fits perfectly into the existing cast
• Contains plenty of high-octane action that is unique and easy to learn
• Appreciating the new moves and tweaks requires experimentation and digging under the surface
• Largely revolves around Exe:Late[st]'s content