When it comes to fighting game storylines, there are many different paths developers take in telling tales. Games like Mortal Kombat may force people to go through a story mode that throws them into the roles of different characters as you find out what’s going on. Games like Street Fighter provide an arcade mode where picking a specific fighter lets you see their path to glory. Many Arc System Works titles offer visual novels, sometimes even with choices, to see one character’s role in an overarching story. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] uses multiple methods to help people warm to the people involved in the Hollow Night and understand everything that is happening.
There are two ways to learn about Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]’s storyline. The first is a new Chronicles section. This is a 22-segment story, with each segment spanning multiple chapters, that looks at the events in the lives of specific characters leading up the the Hollow Night. This is a specific period in a certain area where monsters known as Voids roam. They feed upon Existence (EXS). There are certain people, known as In-Births, who can use EXS power to fight and wield special abilities after encountering and being attacked by a Void and surviving. There are also certain people who want to become Re-Births, which are essentially immortals. (However, people who acquire and use too much EXS improperly become Voids.) After the events of the Chronicles, the Arcade mode covers the experiences of these major players during the Hollow Night.
Does that sound complicated? I can be! Like many games, there is a lot of depth and lore to Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]! Especially since this update of the original game adds Enkidu, Mika, Phonon and Wagner as new members of the cast. Chronicles is the absolute perfect way to start. It begins with an introductory chapter where Vatista sets the stage, then gives people Orie and Yuzuriha’s stories to set the stage for the Hollow Night and two major factions, the Licht Kreis and Yato. As you read through their stories and understand how all the people come to be in Japan and take action during the Hollow Night, you get to see their humanity or unsettling natures shine through. It is a way to better understand everyone’s motives and gravity of the situation.
The Arcade mode offers a story that covers the situation at hand, balancing it with battles. When your current fighter faces an important person that is critical to their story, dialogue will occur to set the stage and provide satisfying backstory and resolution to storylines. But for the most part, this is a more truncated series of situations that focuses on fights with ten characters. It’s far more active, as a dangerous evening like the Hollow Night would inspire. It is here that you see who characters really are and how they act to achieve the goals you saw suggested in the Chronicles.
This structure works to the benefit of players too, as it allows people to determine their level of investment. If someone is here for the fighting, they can jump right into the Arcade mode. Before the first fight, characters tend to introduce themselves and their motives. And in the important conversations, you have an idea of what is going on. But the Chronicles section is far more in-depth and is there for people who want to really immerse themselves in this installment.
The balance between the two modes provides people two opportunities to understand exactly what is going on in Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]. People get to see the backstory in a way that gives each character attention. They see a lead up to the Hollow Knight, knowing who the different factions are and what strengths and weaknesses everyone possess. Then, the Arcade mode takes folks through the rest of the story far more swiftly. The big event takes place, with each person doing what they need to during the Hollow Knight.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] will come to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on February 9, 2018.