UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes review for PC, PlayStation, Switch

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, PS5, Switch
Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: French Bread
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Out comes yet another installment from acclaimed fighting game series with a naming convention I still struggle with from FRENCH-BREAD and Arc System Works. I’ve got a lot of positive things to say about UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes and some negative things I don’t think will be permanent problems if their posts on Twitter are anything to take to heart. For those unfamiliar with UNDER NIGHT, it’s an anime fighting game similar to Blazblue and Guilty Gear, and yet it stands on its own two feet with some uniqueness in all the best ways.

UNI-2 (bear with me here, it’s easier to abbreviate it) boasts incredible mechanics, fluid gameplay, and gorgeous visuals all wrapped up in one package. Not to mention the music is downright incredible. FRENCH-BREAD proves that yet again they can make a fighting game that is as deep as you want it to be, and is pretty friendly to newcomers. The tutorial system is more than plentiful to get your hands on the game with zero experience and really learn the mechanics. Like I mentioned before, if you’re into other ArcSys games, you’ll be right at home picking up UNI-2. It makes use of a system called “GRD”, or “Grid”. Think of it almost like a second meter, but you’re constantly going back and forth with your opponent for who has their meter. You can expend it for defense options or to extend your combo and power up an extension move.

Continuing sorta with the gameplay, there’s a few new characters added to the roster in this entry, as well as all previous characters returning. The two guest characters Eltnum and Akatsuki are back, and the three new additions are Tsurugi, Kaguya, and Kuon. Players will notice that Kuon is locked upon the first launch of the game. To unlock him, you either must own the season pass or you can complete arcade mode with specific characters. If you’re wondering which characters you must complete arcade mode with, they are Hyde, Linne, Waldstein, Orie, Vatista, Seth, Hilda, and Chaos. Hovering over Kuon on the character select screen in single player will also highlight those characters. Additionally, three DLC characters are planned post-launch in the season pass.

People don’t usually talk about sound updates in games, so I’m gonna briefly touch on it here. FRENCH-BREAD put their all into the sound for UNI-2 and completely redid all the voice lines, sound effects, and music for this game. I’ve only played UNICLR (Yes, I’m sticking with the acronyms) before, so I’m not necessarily sure of why they did this, but I can say that it makes everything super crisp and sound amazing.

Unfortunately, now I have to address the negative(s). This very well may only be a PC issue, as I was given a copy to review on Steam. The servers are less than stellar, and crashes are frequent when you get into online matches. Whilst playing with a friend, our ping was showing over 600ms. We’re not entirely sure what caused it, but when matching with each other (and not in a public room might I add, just inviting each other), we would randomly crash either as the match was starting or mid-match. Again, this is seemingly just a PC issue, so console buyers don’t have to beware, and they’ve addressed this on Twitter and are delivering fixes periodically to stabilize the netcode and crashes. If you don’t mind the netcode issues, then feel free to pick it up on PC, otherwise I’d advise waiting.

All in all, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes is a fantastic game. It plays well, it looks great, and it sounds fantastic. I would advise being careful with buying it on PC for now, but console experiences have all sounded smooth. If you’re a fan of 2D anime fighters, I cannot recommend this one enough. I’ve no doubts you will have a blast listening to killer music while watching your character do stylish moves on whoever you’re up against.

Note: Arc System Works provided us with a UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes code for review purposes.

Score: 8