Nobody Saves the World Review (Switch)
Release Date: April 14, 2022
File Size: 729MB
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Drinkbox Studios is back with their new game, Nobody Saves the World. They are the team behind the Guacamelee series as well as Severed. Nobody Saves the World released early this year as a timed Xbox exclusive but is out now, among other places, on the Nintendo Switch. This game sees Drinkbox changing the formula compared to previous titles – here, we have a top-down perspective with the developers setting their sights on the action RPG, dungeon-crawling genre. Drinkbox is known for their wacky, over-the-top characters and humor-filled games, but are they able to inject that same formula in a completely different genre? Let’s find out!
Nobody, the game’s hero, wakes up in a little shack with no recollection of who he is, or even where his clothes went. He awakens to discover that a Calamity has awoken as well. Nobody then sets out from his shack and makes his way over to Nostramagus’s Museum, where you meet Randy the Rad. Randy is a bit distraught, as Nostramagus has gone missing and he wants to set out to avenge him.
Meanwhile, Nobody discovers a wand with a note from Nostramagus telling Randy he is in trouble and to come find him. After some dialogue plays out, we learn that this is a crime scene. Randy drops you into a cell in the basement beneath a trap door and sets out to fight off the monsters that have invaded the kingdom as he looks for Nostramagus.
The basement of Nostramagus serves as the game’s tutorial dungeon and you learn about the wand. That’s right, Randy was too busy to notice you still had possession of the wand before trapping you, so you pick up the wand and learn about your first form. Nobody’s malleable physical forms lends himself to being a shapeshifter, who can transform into various forms. With your new ability, you transform into a rat and look to escape the museum and fight off the calamity, gaining many new forms along your adventure.
After the opening interactions of the game, and with the aforementioned wand in hand, Nobody sets out to save the world. By default, your initial form only has one action or ability and it’s very weak – a basic slap. The game wants you to play with all of Nobody’s various forms, as each one over time will have four abilities. Initially, you will be limited to only using the abilities that are unlocked with each form but over the course of the game, you will be able to mix and match abilities from different forms. This is where the game stands out and offers tons of customizations for the player, allowing them to play the forms they prefer with the abilities tailored to their play style. So, you can have an archer form with the knight’s stomp and rat’s bite. This gives you an archer who has ranged damage, AoE with the knight’s stomp and the ability to poison with the rat’s bite.
You will find yourself swapping abilities, both active and passive, depending on the current quest you are trying to complete. This game has tons of quests to complete in order to level up both your overall character as well as a particular form. You will complete quests by doing tasks for NPCs, completing story objectives, and doing repeatable quests, such as picking up so many health items or killing so many baddies, as well as form-specific ones.
When you first unlock a new form, the form-specific ones are usually about your new main ability but over time, you will be required to complete quests for this form by mixing and matching both abilities and passive perks. One feature I felt was lacking is the ability to save loadouts or builds you could easily swap between – having one or two loadout slots per form would have been a nice addition. Some of your active abilities use mana, which is denoted by the blue bar at the top of the screen below your health bar. Mana can regenerate over time, or you can enable a passive ability to increase the rate at which it recharges. You will find mana upgrades sprinkled all around the over world and your health increases as you level up and, of course, you replenish your health by eating food that enemy’s drop.
You traverse the open world with the ability to go anywhere you want assuming you have the form that can handle the terrain and enemies of that area. For example, water areas will require you to use a form that can swim or fly. The game has a fast travel system, so fast travel back and forth between areas of the map is a breeze once you have unlocked those locations.
When you enter an area or dungeon you will see its level displayed on screen along with any buffs or rules in place. The overworld is handcrafted and will show you NPCs, objectives, merchants, and dungeons – the latter is where you will be spending most of your time, though. They are procedurally generated each time you enter them, but some have a set of rules or buffs to them. For example, some dungeons, especially story-related ones, will not let your complete form quests within. Another might be one where enemies have shields and first need to be broken with a certain type of attack before they can sustain damage. This further builds on the ability of swapping forms depending on the need at the moment.
Dungeons generally consist of floors where you must take on waves and waves of baddies. You can swap between the most recent forms you have used by holding the R button. Eventually, there will be 18 forms you can choose from, so the quick-change wheel will only show a handful of the most recently used ones. You will be swapping back and forth between forms many times to complete a dungeon. Some dungeon floors have requirements you need to meet, like finding three keys to open a gate or defeating so many baddies per floor. Eventually, reaching the final area will culminate with a boss fight. Some dungeons reward you with Arcane Gem shards and others will help you complete quests for NPCs or progress your level in the guild.
Presentation and Performance
Nobody Saves the World had no performance issues to report on Nintendo Switch during my 20+ hours through the game’s campaign. I played both handheld and docked, but the majority was in handheld as that is how I prefer to play my Nintendo Switch. As a side note, the game does have both online and local co-op – I didn’t test this feature though, instead playing the entire game in single player. The art design is what I have come to expect from these developers – bold, vibrant, colorful worlds and characters. I feel DrinkBox has a style that as soon as you see a trailer for their games, you instantly know it’s from them; always unique and quirky.
This “quirky” aspect is what makes their games fun and enjoyable, however. Sometimes, it’s dark humor but it’s presented in a silly way that makes it fun and enjoyable anyway. The music in Nobody Saves the World is fantastic and I found myself humming along to the various beats in the different areas of the game. Composer Jim Guthrie did a wonderful job with it, and it feels like each of the game’s songs work well with the various environments.
Over my 20 hrs. with Nobody Saves the World, I came away feeling very mixed on the game. As someone described the game to me, having played it on Xbox when it first released, it’s “bookend-ed” and I really agree with that. I really enjoyed my time early on in the game. Unlocking new abilities and new forms initially feels rewarding and enjoyable. The issue is somewhere in the middle, where you need or have too many forms in my opinion and you have to level them up to a certain rank. Some require a C rank while others require an S rank in order to unlock the final forms. Unlocking the final form is rewarding and fun to play though, as you feel overpowered and feel like you are playing the game’s “god mode.” But the issue is the grind in the middle to get to this point.
There are some fun and interesting story beats in between, but the pace of new forms becoming available slows down and now you have to get forms rank up to unlock new ones. Perhaps that was due to playing the game in a manner that the developers hadn’t intended, as I chose to grind out a lot of the final forms in the middle and was able to decimate many foes with ease.
Either way, Drinkbox has definitely found a way to take their DNA of bold and colorful art design with quirky storytelling and characters, and infuse that into a different genre. Aside from the pacing issues I experienced, the game tells a fun story and offers the player a lot of customization between forms and each of their abilities. If you are a fan of Drinkbox’s past efforts, or are looking for a new top-down action RPG to play on your Switch, then help Nobody save the world…and maybe find his pants!