Fighting for the spotlight!
BB:CP, P4AU, GGXrd, AH3:LM, MBAA, DBFC, AP.
If you’re familiar with (anime) fighting games, you should be able to tell which games they are just by their abbreviations.
Those are just a small sampling of the variety of fighting games on the market- each its own charm and unique identity.
So when UNIEL was announced by the developers behind the cult classic, “Melty Blood”, I felt excited but also a bit concerned since I already had many fighters I wanted to improve in.
After some time with UNIEL, I do believe I’ll have to add this game to the laundry list of fighters I want to get to my usual state of “better than average”.
MSRP: $33.99 (Digital) $39.99 (Physical)
Multiplayer: VS Netplay and leaderboards
Voice Acting Selection: JPN voice only.
Length: It’s a fighting game! It lasts as long as you like playing it.
From a fundamental standpoint, UNIEL is a four button fighting game with a relatively simple control scheme.
You won’t find any 720 motions or a Geese Howard Rising Storm in the move list as most of the motions are done with simple quarter circle to half circle motions.
Most of the reversals are done with the typical shoryuken motion and there’s even an auto-combo (ala P4A) you can use by pressing on the light attack over and over again.
Anyone who has ever played a Street Fighter or a BlazBlue game should be able to pick this game up immediately and start shooting projectiles and throwing out invincible reversals in a heartbeat.
This is not to say that it lacks depth as it certainly doesn’t but given how the first few minutes with a fighter usually governs whether or not the player sticks with it, it’s always nice to see the developers go out of their way to make their games accessible.
There are meter variations of nearly all the regular moves, ultimate specials, and even flashy instant kills. There’s a variation of the “burst” system that those familiar with the GG/BB series should understand rather quickly and a “Veil” mode that allows for the use of unlimited meter for a short duration.
The characters themselves play as distinctively as they look -you have the standard shoto type of character with Hyde and then at the other end of the spectrum is someone like Merkava who is a… monster… or… beast thing… with extendable arms that fly and bite… man, I don’t know.
Whether you like to rush people down with relentless fury or like to sit back and throw projectiles at them from full screen while doing your best ojou-sama laugh (Oho-ho-ho-ho-ho~), you’ll be sure to find a character that fits your play style.
Personally, I find myself drawn to speedy rush-down characters with a tool set that allows them to play footsies well so I ended up spending most of my time playing as the titular heroine, Linne.
Also, there’s a greater emphasis in this title on playing footsies on the ground more so than constantly jumping to get in on the opponent.
The hitboxes of many of the regular moves can often cover up half the screen with ease and I don’t think I’ve played a fighter where it was easier to punish opponents who jumped too much.
This has an effect of keeping the combat fast paced but meticulous at the same time as one whiffed move could be punished from half screen away into a massive combo.
While the mechanics are satisfyingly harmonious and the characters are delightfully fun to control, there’s a serious lack of content in the single player front in UNIEL.
There’s no story or challenge mode to be found here at all- only a standard arcade mode with a teaspoon of story and a bunch of underwhelming filler modes like score attack and survival modes.
Considering the fact that this is the first game in the series that will introduce the players to not only the characters but the world itself, it would have been nice to have been able to play through a comprehensive story mode to see what this world was really all about.
Luckily the game is priced well for its lack of content at $39.99 instead of the standard $49.99/59.99 these days so I suppose it could be forgiven to some degree but it’s a shame all the same.
As for the online multiplayer netcode, it seemed to work well even against opponents with one bar connection and has the standard Player/Ranked matches.
UNIEL lays down the foundation for many sequels to come with its great roster of characters and a soundtrack that’s so good that it has found its way to my permanent music collection.
While it’s a bit disappointing to find that there are some key modes that are missing from the package, I hope that in the next iteration they’ll put out the complete package with everything that we expect from fighters released in the modern age.
Fun Tidbit: Seriously, the music is great!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.