From the same studio that brought you Guacamelee! comes a bit of a unique one. It’s a top-down action RPG hack and slash adventure with a very cool form-swapping mechanic.
So an immediate comparison I would make here is to that of Shantae. The core mechanic in Nobody Saves the World is that you’re able to freely swap between different “forms”. This includes animals like the rat and the horse, humans like the bodybuilder and the ranger, or mutants like the ghost and the slime. There are over 15 of these different forms and they each have a full slate of unique abilities to use in combat on top of their base traits like some being able to travel in water and some being able to go through tight spaces.
It’s a very cool mechanic and is made only better by the sheer variety and detail behind it all. The bodybuilder, for example, attacks with a giant dumbbell and if you look closely enough, you’ll see that his idle animation even has him flexing his pectorals. Some forms are faster, some forms are tankier, some are ranged, some are melee, some are a mix of both – there are plenty to choose from and they fit all sorts of play styles.
That’s not all though, because shortly into the experience you’re granted the ability to customize each form further by equipping abilities from any of the other forms. You can get stuff like a horse with the poison traits of the rat or a ghost with the water spray ability of the turtle. Because each form levels up individually, you’re encouraged to hop around and not stick with just one form, but at the same time, this customization allows you to take some of your favorite abilities from one form and apply them to another – a very cool combo as a couple of the forms are a bit of a pain to play with their base abilities.
The combat was already fun enough on its own with most of the base forms, but the addition of ability swapping really elevates it and especially so later on once you have most of the abilities unlocked and come up with some crazy synergies. And it’s not just the combat either – the quests and puzzles build off of this mechanic too. One quest, for example, has you destroy a bunch of targets using specific damage types in a limited amount of time and you’ll need to come up with some sort of form combo with just the right abilities to complete that task in time.
Or a simpler quest, one that also showcases the witty writing that the game has going for it, has you work with the thieves guild to make off with daggers from a local shop. The catch being that you’re not actually stealing the daggers, but buying all four using different human forms to get around the “1 per person” limit on the sale – a very shady move by the very shady thieves guild. It’s the little touches like that that keep the experience fresh even several hours into it – and really, the form swapping and customization is enough to ward off that feeling of repetition.
The maps are nice too. A good mix of environments with cool designs, cool characters to meet, and fun quests to complete. Unlocking more forms gradually opens up more of the map, so exploration is encouraged too. And of course, the map greatly benefits from the game’s colorful art style. Great coloring, plenty of world detailing – it’s just an all-around good looking game and with some nice music to match too.
My main complaints are mostly with the quality of life side of things. For example, the “quick select” wheel that allows you to change between forms – pretty much the central mechanic to the game – is a bit finicky once you have enough forms to fill it up. In the event that you want to swap to a form that is not on the wheel, you have to pause the game, pull up the form menu, select that form, and hope that it does not replace another form that you also would like to swap to. I don’t know if my friend and I were missing something, but it seemed that the form would be put on the quick select wheel randomly, so it became a bit of a pain once we had to juggle all of these forms.
That and I wasn’t the biggest fan of how quests are tracked and submitted. To do so, you have to pull up a menu manually and submit them before progress can be made on the next part of that quest. This is a bit of an annoyance because sometimes you’ll complete one in the middle of combat and have to pause right then to submit it or waste the next several kills not getting tracked towards your next quest. Given the mountain of quests that are there – this becomes a bit tedious. That and the level up screen could be a bit shorter – or even better, run in the background.
And as usual with these types of games – it does become a bit difficult to see what exactly is going on in combat once you are further into it. There’s a bunch of explosions, effects, and it’s not hard to lose your place when there’s a bunch of enemies on screen. This kinda comes with the genre though, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
On the technical side of things, I did run into a few issues with the multiplayer. Whether that be the occasional lag spike that lasts a while or the random disconnect forcing me back to the main menu – both were annoying. The latter much more so because it seemed to only happen when my friend and I were in a dungeon, where you cannot save until you exit it and on one occasion it disconnected right as we reached the end and we had to redo the entire thing. This could easily be solved by keeping at least one player in the game instead of booting both, but as it stands that is not the case.
Otherwise, the game plays fine. I ran it at 1440p and 120 fps (which seems to be the max) without any performance issues. The game lacks mouse controls but does have rebindable keyboard controls. They are a bit obtuse, but at least doable if you do not have a controller on hand.
I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with Nobody Saves the World. I went in thinking – okay, basically top-down Shantae, but it’s a lot more than just that. Fun combat with plenty of depth, quests that actually do something unique and don’t just have you running to and from, solid music and colorful art with plenty of detail – it’s got a lot going for it in spite of some technical and design flaws. It’s fun enough as a singleplayer title, but an absolutely easy recommendation if you have a friend to do online co-op with.
Quote: Nobody Saves the World is a pleasant surprise, with fun combat, solid questing, great art and music, and a nice sense of wit too. An easy recommendation if you have a buddy to do co-op with.
Nobody Saves the World retails for $25 USD on Steam. It is also available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.