It’s rare to see a game that has both online co-op and couch co-op, especially in today’s day and age. I’ve always been a sucker for hopping on the couch with my partner after a long day’s work to play a quick game of Mario Kart or Just Dance. Nobody Saves The World, from the creators of the successful Metroidvania Guacamelee, is an indie top-down role-playing game that has finally come to the PlayStation 5 after being a timed exclusive for PC and Xbox earlier this year. And while I’ve never thought of playing a dungeon-crawling RPG split-screen, it surprisingly works.
“Nobody Saves The World is a quirky little gem that never takes itself too seriously.”
In Nobody Saves The World, you literally play as Nobody. You are an empty husk of a shell that has awoken with some sort of amnesia and find yourself sent on a journey to find a powerful wizard to stop an impending calamity that is about to end your world. Early on, you find a wand that allows you to transform into various beings. This ranges from a rat and horse to a bodybuilder and an egg. Yes, an egg. This is the main mechanic of the game, transforming into different classes to fit the scenario.
Nobody Saves The World is a quirky little gem that never takes itself too seriously. It wears its inspirations on its sleeves, weaving together elements from popular titles such as Zelda, Diablo, and Super Mario to create an experience like no other.
Levelling up and progression work a bit differently than what you would expect from a traditional role-playing game. You don’t gain experience from slaying monsters or collecting loot. Instead, you’ll need to complete the various “side quests” that are tied to your form. For example, if you transform into a rat, you might be tasked to poison enemies 10 times. Every quest tied to a particular form gains experience for that said form, and levelling up forms unlocks skills and additional forms.
This mechanic is a double-edged sword in a way, as it introduces a breath of fresh air compared to the vanilla progression system, but also comes off as too grindy and repetitive to level up every form. Though it’s nice to see progression tied to mundane activities such as swimming a certain distance as the mermaid, it also transforms the game into a giant checklist of things to do.
“There are no checkpoints within dungeons until you get to the teleporter before the boss at the end, forcing you to restart it if you die.”
Nobody Saves The World is very combat-focused and therefore features no puzzles. There are, however, modifiers to dungeons and every time you enter a dungeon, the layout is procedurally generated, giving a semi-roguelite feel to the game. Every dungeon is staged the same, requiring you to defeat a certain number of enemies before proceeding to the next area, with a boss or wave of enemies at the end of it.
Unfortunately, there are no checkpoints within dungeons until you get to the teleporter before the boss at the end, forcing you to restart it if you die. Playing co-op actually trivializes this, because a fallen player will revive after 5 or 6 seconds to full health, and you can abuse this mechanic endlessly if at least one player is alive while the other respawns.
“Combat in Nobody Saves The World is simple but satisfying.”
Combat is simple but satisfying, with each form being distinctly different from one another and able to unlock and use up to 3 skills. The archer can shoot arrows from afar and the knight can stomp and do massive area-of-effect damage. The game also introduces a polarity system to vary things up, forcing you to use an attack with a particular element in order to break the elemental shield tied to certain enemies. This mechanic organically forces you to change up your forms and play how the game is meant to be played, instead of sticking to one form all the time.
You can mix and match skills between forms too, such as attaching the poisonous bite on the rat to the knight. Unfortunately, changing forms on the fly does not slow down the in-game experience, and punishes you unnecessarily if you are in the middle of trying to change to a different being. In addition, the number of enemies swarming you can easily get overwhelming and turn the screen into a mess that’s hard to discern.
“The story quickly wears thin and the humour rarely lands.”
What’s excellent is the amount of variation there is and the potential to experiment and create an awesome build that demolishes enemies. You can combine the skills of the slug class that leaves a trail that slows down enemies with the poison of the rat class. The combinations truly are endless and really caters to the different playstyles different people might have.
Outside of the minute-to-minute gameplay is the narrative which is comedic and silly. Along your journey, you meet various characters that each have their own unique personality, ranging from a guild of knights and travelling merchants on the road to mummies and their scientists.
However, you’ll quickly find that the narrative, not unlike the gameplay can begin to feel a little tedious. Dungeons become monotonous and the progression becomes exhausting. It becomes an endless grind to unlock new forms and then play those forms to unlock better skills and abilities for said form.
“Nobody Saves The World is a worthy next game in DrinkBox Studios’ portfolio of projects.”
The saving grace of Nobody Saves The World is truly the cooperative aspect of it. Not only does this game have online co-op, but it also has local co-op that works seamlessly. The second player joins the world and inherits the progression of the host player. Having a partner play alongside you brings up the fun factor tenfold, as the two of you can mix and match different forms to complement each other’s playstyles. Paired with the ability to play again in the new game plus mode, there is so much potential for replayability. This is made even sweeter when you consider the game’s humble price point.
Nobody Saves The World is a worthy next game in DrinkBox Studios’ portfolio of projects. It’s a cute little indie title that scratches the itch of local cooperative play while showcasing a competent dungeon crawling experience coated with a unique animated art style. The forms are fun and the story is hilarious, but the overall repetitive nature of its mechanics makes it a game turned to-do list.
You can pick up Nobody Saves The World for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Steam.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.