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Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes Review

Under Night In-Birth 2 Review 3 (1)

It may have one of the most ridiculous names, especially when you also factor in the various subtitles of each entry, but the Under Night In-Birth series is a bit of a treat for fighting game fans. Now we have the first numbered sequel in the series, and while it’s not a massive departure, it still has a lot to offer.

Developed by French-Bread and Arc System Works, Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes remains a good old-fashioned 2D pixelated fighter. While its store listing boasts about improved visuals, then, it’ll still look extremely dated to many. But while it may have rough edges and its 3D fighting arenas remain lifeless and often a bit drab, its character animations are at least a source of joy. And in this release there are more characters than ever to get to grips with.

It’s not the most generous amount, but three brand new characters have joined the roster: the gun-wielding Kaguya, the evil and imposing Kuon, and the heavy shield-bearing Tsurugi. All bring something new to the table, and round out an already-eclectic cast of characters. There are 24 characters in all, which is a decent offering in this day and age. And of course, more characters are planned via season passes. Purchase Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes before 31st March and you even get the first season pass included for free.

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Image: Arc System Works

With existing characters tweaked and given new moves, however, even returning players will have fun trying them all again to see how they get on with them. There are some new mechanics added here which all characters can make use of, too, such as a forward dodge roll known as Creeping Edge and a new Celestial Vorpal state. As ever though, while Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes does its best to be welcoming to players of all skill levels, only advanced users are likely to make use of some of its most complex mechanics.

Related: The Best Fighting Games on PS5

Put simply, jump into Under Night In-Birth 2: Sys:Celes online as a newcomer, and chances are your opponent will wipe the floor with you. With the series being rather niche, it doesn’t have the largest online community and so getting matched up with players of a similar skill level isn’t always that easy. There’s an extensive training mode in which to brush up your skills, however, and now you can take part in Casual Matches, in which your opponents might go a little easier on you. Probably not though. In any case, thanks to the implementation of rollback netcode, at least online bouts generally play out without a hitch unless you have a really bad connection.

Even if you never go online with Under Night In-Birth 2: Sys:Celes though, there’s enough offline content to keep most players invested. While there’s no Chronicles mode this time around, Arcade mode lets players discover each character’s story as they face off against a series of opponents in battle. On top of that there’s Score Attack, Time Attack, Survival and Mission modes, meaning there’s always some way for someone to challenge themselves and enjoy some fast-paced fighting action.

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No matter how players choose to play, they’ll also find themselves earning credits as they go which can be used to unlock a variety of extras. There’s everything from character illustrations and additional background music tracks to unlock, and it’ll prove to be a considerable timesink for those who want to make everything available. All in all, alongside a reasonable price point, we can’t imagine anyone feeling short-changed by Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes.

It may not be quite the leap forward that some would expect from a fully-fledged sequel, but it can’t be denied that Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes is still an accomplished fighting game. With its expanded roster, new mechanics and implementation of valued features such as rollback netcode, this is an enticing offer for series fans. And while newcomers might have a hard time when dipping their toes into its online offerings, it at least offers a myriad of ways for them to improve their skills.


Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys:Celes is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!