Discovering Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late
Date Published: April 12, 2017
If you’ve gone on any fighting game stream in the last couple of years, the odds of you seeing the question “When’s UNIEL?” were pretty high, it’s almost the anime fighting game equivalent to the famous inquiry of “When’s MAHVEL?”
Well, ask no further, after hearing about the game and watching bits and pieces of gameplay, I decided to give the small yet endeared fighting game a try, and to my surprise, it was quite different from what my preconceived notions determined it to be.
Similar to my experience with Melty Blood, I had very little knowledge in regards to Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late (UNIEL) I wasn’t too interested in the game due to the fact that I already had an anime fighting game occupying my time in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (P4U2), and after spending a couple days with UNIEL, personally, I can safely say I’ve made the right decision in sticking with P4U2.
The game certainly surprised me when I found out how deceiving it was in how it looks vs. how it played. Most anime fighting games are built-in with components such as unconstrained mobility, explosive damage, and an overall faster paced match. However, what I’ve found out is that UNIEL’s metagame was somewhat inconsistent across the board.
Explosive damage is perhaps the only component that stands true at all times when comparing match to match, but tempo, consequence, and overall strategy changes greatly from character to character. That aspect of the game is both good and bad, it opens up gameplay greatly when considering match-up knowledge, however it sacrifices a player’s reliability of a consistent meta, causing somewhat of an imbalance throughout.
On a positive note, what made the game easy to get into was the rudimentary level of execution, simply meaning that if you’ve been around an arcade stick before, UNIEL will not be too demanding from an input or combo string standpoint. All of the traditional inputs are in place, all that is left is some character familiarization and light practice.
Where the game’s inconsistencies show once more is when delving into mechanics on a deeper scale. While mechanics such as Guard Thrust and Vail Off are helpful and seem to work well within the game’s meta, other components such as odd hit and hurt boxes, throw/tech throw consistency, and perhaps the most frustrating mechanic of Chain Shift, which is somewhat of a safe move cancel, which immediately gives the user frame advantage no matter the previous situation.
Aside from its mechanical inconsistencies, UNIEL as a whole just seemed to be a bit lacking. Roster size, stage variability, number of soundtracks, are just a few examples that present the game to be quite underwhelming. However, what made matters a bit less enjoyable for me is that from a personal preference, I did not enjoy playing any other character but Akatsuki.
While the selection is small to begin with, I did not connect to any character on the roster aside from the very grounded and footsie based Akatsuki, who in retrospect shares a lot of qualities akin to of a Street Fighter cast member, which is perhaps why I felt most at home playing him.
Lastly, while my experience with UNIEL didn’t turn out as favorable as it did with Melty Blood, I still had fun playing the game despite only spending significant time with one character. The game has a lot of interesting qualities to it which makes it unique. Consequently it also separates the game from the herd, making it difficult to compare to other games and really giving it its own unique identity.