Gaming

Nobody Saves the World is a Zelda-style grindy game

No one will save the world The hero is holding a magic wand.

Image: Beverage Studio

Nobody saves the world this is a game about filling up meters, leveling up and watching the numbers get bigger. At first I didn’t think it worked for me, but like the video game equivalent of an earworm writhing in my gray matter, the hours soon started to fly without me even realizing it. It’s a testament to how finely tuned the combat and exploration in the game is, never more than a few minutes go by without something new to discover, kill or upgrade, even if the overall experience can sometimes feel like eating empty calories.

In 2013, Toronto-based independent developer Drinkbox Studios released Guacameli!, a vibrant side-scrolling metroidvania that was not only a beat ’em up game, but also an intelligent maze navigator. Before that, Drinkbox had released a handful of games, but the lucha-libre-inspired platformer was what put the studio on the map. After that, Drinkbox spent most of the years trapped in its own success, releasing ports, remasters, and continuation (although action-adventure torn apart was a welcome detour). With Nobody saves the world, releasing on January 20 on Xbox, Game Pass and Steam, the studio’s 10-year history has evolved into an ambitious new structure that excels in new areas without losing the distinctive charm and style of Drinkbox.

Multiplayer

Nobody saves the world sports online cooperative game for two. Although there are some serious drawbacks – the second player can only be a clone of the main player and not advance in their own game – the game works well and is more fun in company.

You play, oddly enough, a faceless meat puppet named Nobody, whose special power is a wand that he can use to change shape. Need to fit into tight spaces? Become a poisonous mouse. Need to swim on water? Turn into a mermaid who shoots bubbles. An Evil Calamity™ threatens the world, and only you can stop it as you navigate dungeon after dungeon in search of new powers and special gems that can save the earth from unspeakable horrors. Most of the time you are fighting hordes of monsters, earning money and leveling up and spending it to increase your strength in a continuous cycle of destruction and progress.

The donkey runs into a vampire as he crosses the bridge.

Screenshot: Beverage Studio

This feedback loop is built on three pillars. Each form, such as a ranger with a bow or a wizard that spawns rabbits, can rise in rank, unlocking new forms and new powers. These abilities can be mixed and matched in different forms, so you can, for example, give a Ranger a Knight’s crowd-controlling stomp, or cast Ranger’s poison damage on the Wizard’s rabbit army. Finally, some enemies have color-coded barriers that can only be broken by certain types of damage. It’s a mechanic pulled from Guacameli! games that add much-needed depth and complexity to combat. You can also change forms on the fly, expanding your options for dealing with waves of enemies and boss battles. Just when you think you’ve been defeated, a new combination of enemies and shields will force you to get creative again and find a new strategy.

Instead of leveling up just to kill things, you do so by completing specific objectives, such as killing 50 enemies with poison. Like a well calibrated battle pass then, Nobody saves the world continues to subtly change your goals along with your evolving arsenal. But instead of laboring in exchange for cosmetic trinkets, you’re working to unlock more fun and efficient ways to progress in a game that, unlike the purgatory of a live service treadmill, has an end.

The protagonist of

Screenshot: Beverage Studio

If you enjoy filling up meters and testing out new and creative builds to take down enemy mobs efficiently like I do, this is a recipe for a few long nights of fun. Drinkbox has tried to keep boredom to a minimum by making new milestones appear quickly and frequently. The dungeons, which you may have to go through a few times before defeating the bigger boss, are reworked slightly in a roguelite style each time, so they feel more like theme park rides than prisons.

Nobody saves the worldThe map is also littered with side quests and NPCs to distract you and take you on short excursions deep into its whimsical world. None of the ones I came across seemed particularly remarkable (I was almost halfway through the game), but they add variety to the smorgasbord. And that’s not to mention a stunning reimagining of the old school. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Pasta modern world and a superb soundtrack by composer Jim Guthrie.

Nobody saves the world may at times feel like it’s overwhelming you. In addition to how challenging and repetitive it can be, every enemy you kill is usefully turned into coins and health refills, and every new challenge you complete is given a shiny seal of approval. Overeating works when you never feel full, and with Nobody saves the world Sometimes I felt overwhelmed, but after I had time to calm down again, I always wanted to come back for more. I just wish some of my favorite role-playing blockbusters could capture their development so accurately.


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