Drinkbox Studios has always been one of my favorite indie developers. From their unique art style to their detailed levels full of easter eggs or nods to games past, Drinkbox Studios has found its niche in adapting genres to fit its own mold. This time, they decided to tackle the RPG action-adventure genre with Nobody Saves the World.
In Nobody Saves the World, you play as Nobody. Yes, that’s actually the character’s name. By all descriptions, Nobody is a blank canvas. There are no defining features of Nobody besides they are always naked; they have no skin tone, no hair, and have eyes devoid of life. After waking up with absolutely no memory of what’s going on, Nobody stumbles into the house of Nostramagus, a grand wizard who mysteriously disappeared, and takes his magic wand. The only clues about what happened to Nostramagus are his hand protege Randy the Rad and a note saying, “I’m in trouble. Take the wand. FIND ME!” Quickly discovering that the magic wand’s powers allow the wielder to transform into different creatures, known as forms, Nobody sets out to find out what happened to Nostramagus and stop the Calamity from ruining the world.
The gameplay relies very heavily on quests to guide you. While this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for RPGs, every single thing is tied to quests. Every dungeon has a quest to complete them. There are dozens of quests for each of the 21 forms to level them up. There are even unlimited quests you can buy that are tied to every action you take, like taking a certain number of steps, completing dungeons, and even eating food! Plus, you need to complete quests to progress. Completing almost every quest rewards you with special stars that are required to open the big dungeons whose completion is necessary to advance the story. But the best thing about this feature is, you are getting rewarded regularly for your actions. There is no such thing as wasting time doing a side activity as each one helps you reach that goal of unlocking the doors to the next big dungeon. Want to spend an hour leveling up your forms to the max possible rank? Go right ahead! Each form quest gives stars and experience. Want to go help a thieves guild member evade a “One knife per customer policy” so they can buy four knives while they’re on sale? That also rewards stars and experience.
Naturally, with a giant world-ending calamity looming, there are monsters everywhere. So how do you fight them? That’s how your forms come into play. As mentioned above, there are 21 forms at your disposal. And they range from normal RPG classes to hilariously ridiculous. Starting off, you have Nobody and rat forms. Yeah, the first form you use to tackle the first dungeon is a rat. Honestly, though, the rat has to be inspired by the black plague because the rat’s special ability allows each bite to inflict poison on enemies. But quickly, you’ll start to unlock forms which is done by ranking up the forms you already have (from F to S rank). Eventually, you can get forms like a magician, who can pull rabid rabbits and hungry lions out of a hat, or an egg. Granted, the egg has healing powers, but for the most part, it’s just a plain old egg with the lowest stats possible compared to the other forms. Each form comes with three active abilities that you unlock by ranking them up and a passive ability.
What really makes the combat of Nobody Saves the World shine, though, is how you can mix and match almost every ability and passive and throw it on any form. Optimizing forms with the best passives and abilities to tackle dungeons are where the game really pushes you to think outside the box with your toolset. But it can also create some hilarious combinations. Like an egg that can go invisible and backstab enemies, poisoning and exploding them into a giant poisonous cloud that kills others around them. Or, a Bodybuilder that shoots a flurry of arrows out of its muscles while also smiting any foe who touches their glorious muscles they worked hard to build.
These are only two of the thousands of combinations that are possible. Each ability does have one of four types tied to it, which are needed for tackling the mid to late level dungeons where enemies have specific wards on them that can only be broken by being hit by that ability type. You can quickly change to up to eight forms through the forms wheel, so having one form kitted out with one of each ability type isn’t needed. In other words, make the characters that are the most fun for you, and change anything as needed to tear through a dungeon.
The forms wheel is also one of my big gripes about the game. Most other RPGs have a quick action wheel or menu that is customizable. Place what you need where you need it so you can quickly use a weapon or item when you need them. But in Nobody Saves the World, the quick wheel cannot be set. From my experience, it is filled with the last eight forms you’ve used. Changing to a new form from the forms menu kicks out the oldest used form. The option to not set the forms wheel any way that’s optimal for me is just tedious at best. I died several times because a form wasn’t where I expected it to be. I really hope Drinkbox adds in a patch to customize the forms wheel in the near future.
There are dozens of different monster types that each feel like they were pulled out of a book of horrors. The real fear and the difficulty, though, come from how many there are on a screen. Dungeons and the land are filled with these baddies that will swarm you at first sight. Overcoming them and learning how to survive with all different customization options for your forms is where the game shines. There is honestly not a better feeling in this game than standing on a literal pile of baddie corpses (then bringing them back to life with one of the advanced forms insert evil laughter here).
But, as I mentioned before, the later dungeons have wards on the enemies. In other words, every enemy has a floating ability type over their head that they need to be attacked with to break the said barrier and take damage. When there are dozens of enemies swarming you with at least two different wards, the he game gets almost unfairly difficult. Fast reaction times, constant switching, mana management, and quickly switching out abilities or passives are an absolute must. There is no room for just banging your head against a wall. If you die in a dungeon, you start right from the beginning. The only checkpoints in these dungeons are right before the final room. Dungeon maps reset every time you enter one, the layout changes, and all enemies respawn. So finding the optimal builds before or during a dungeon is very necessary.
Finally, I want to touch on the characters of the game. Nobody Saves the World is full of Drinkbox Studios’ bread and butter of wacky, almost relatable characters who will make you laugh regularly. What I really love Drinkbox Studios for though, is their villains. There are normally 2-3 supporting fantastic characters, but the villains are what really shine, especially in Guacamelee! 1 and 2. That was missing here. The many characters you interact with are witty and odd. They’re all NPCs who you chat with maybe 3-4 times. The only three characters who stood out to me during my playthrough were Randy the Rad, the Mana Fairies who basically give moonshine mana potions for a mana boost, and a member of the Knight’s Guild called Temporary Knight (nobody took the time to learn his name because he was going to be replaced).
But especially on the villain front, there was only one that stood out, the Calamity. The Calamity presents itself as an omnipresent voice when you enter and complete a dungeon providing a little more context for how their threat is growing. But who are you fighting in the other 20-ish dungeons? Just bigger versions of the monsters you’ve been fighting. Even dungeons that are integral for the story or have a second quest tied to clearing them out, there are no special fights. You is just fighting bigger and stronger versions of the enemies. RPGs have some of the best villains in gaming, like Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV or Sans (depending on your playthrough) from Undertale. Not having any here is disappointing, to say the least.
Nobody Saves the World is another fun-filled game by the team at Drinkbox Studios. While there were very few memorable NPCs, the forms are really what shines the most. From being able to customize them for any need to quickly switching between them, Drinkbox Studios nailed their hook of this game. I just wish they took the time to focus on the game’s villains just as much as they did the many NPCs. That didn’t stop my fun, though, which indeed showed anybody can actually save the world.
Nobody Saves the World is available on January 18, 2022, on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass, and PC.
Nobody Saves the World
- Rating - 8/108/10
Nobody Saves the World is another fun-filled game by the team at Drinkbox Studios. While there were very few memorable NPCs, the forms are really what shines the most. From being able to customize them for any need to quickly switching between them, Drinkbox Studios nailed their hook of this game. I just wish they took the time to focus on the game’s villains just as much as they did the many NPCs.