Nobody Saves the World embraces the RPG grind. Rather than shy away from it, developer Drinkbox Studios has crafted a combat system that encourages it. Its Zelda-inspired overworld, dungeons, and quests all work in harmony together. Combined with a charming and vibrant 2D visual style and clever and witty writing, the result is an enjoyable indie title to start the new year.
The story of Nobody Saves the World isn’t anything new, so stop me if you’ve heard this before. You’re a nobody tasked with saving the world from an evil calamity after a magical item has chosen you to wield its power. I know, there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but then again, there isn’t supposed to be either.
The catch is that the player character is literally a nobody: a white humanoid with black beady eyes. The magic item, in this case, is a wand that allows you to change forms, which brings us to the game’s combat system.
These forms take the role of classes or jobs you’d normally expect from an RPG. Nobody Saves the World plays all the hits: ranger, guard, magician, rogue, monk, and so on. The game isn’t afraid to play some deep cuts: zombie, mermaid, slug, rat, ghost, and others.
What’s so enjoyable is that these forms affect gameplay even outside of combat. Shifting into a rat or a mermaid unlocks a whole new world of possibilities when exploring. The game encourages you to shapeshift from the very start routinely and continuously rewards you for doing so.
Nobody Saves the World Embraces the Dungeon Grind and Finds a Way to Make It (Mostly) Enjoyable
In combat, though, is where things truly shine. As you unlock and progress through each form, you obtain new skills. These can be mixed and matched across all forms, except each form’s “signature move.” This allows for plenty of customizable load-outs, such as a slug that’s able to throw arrows, infect enemies, and summon a water shield.
Nobody Saves the World encourages the dungeon grind because of this. The more you hack and slash your way through the game, the more skills and abilities you unlock. The more you unlock, the more the game opens up to you.
It’s unfortunate, however, that the combat does so much heavy lifting. At times, it feels like the game can stall out when you’re waiting to unlock a new class or obtain new abilities. Part of the joy in the monotonous dungeon grind is the serotonin rush from a new class or tinkering with custom skill load-outs. When you reach sections of the game that require backtracking or grinding levels to open up new locations, the game comes to a screeching halt.
More often than not, thankfully, this is the exception and not the norm for Nobody Saves the World. Even when you’re at the slow points in the game, enemy encounters do enough to keep things lively. Part of the customization when it comes to combat deals with attack types, not just the abilities themselves. Enemies will often be “warded,” or protected, unless you use a specific type of attack against them.
Again, this isn’t anything new or unique to the genre, but Drinkbox Studios implements it well. It adds another layer of customization to your load-outs that keeps you coming back for more.
There is a cooperative mode, but it feels tacked on more than anything. This leads to severe disappointment; you can’t play co-op locally, and player 2 is more of a side-kick than anything, similar to Super Mario Odyssey.
At its heart, Nobody Saves the World is a single-player adventure. It’s a shame because having a fully fleshed-out co-op campaign would help get by the game’s slower moments or deal with the stimulation overload that occurs at times. Nobody Saves the World can throw a lot of quests at you, and I was borderline overwhelmed at times. Completionists will have an insane amount of content available, but they better buckle up.
When the Game Is at Its Best, It’s Near Perfect. When It’s Not, Though, It Leaves Something to Be Desired
I wanted to like Nobody Saves the World more than I do, which is a whole lot! I know I’m coming across as a big negative here, but that’s mainly because the game’s highs are incredibly high. The soundtrack is catchy, the visuals are gorgeous, and the gameplay loop is immensely satisfying.
When everything works, it feels like I’m on cloud nine before the game snaps me back to reality, and I have to encourage myself to keep going. What’s most telling, though, is the fact that I always kept going.
The characters and overall style of the game are beyond enduring. Combined with the various forms you’ll obtain, it’s a match made in heaven. The absurdity of a horse running around shooting arrows and throwing sludge bombs or a slug becoming an unstoppable killing machine never gets old. I’m serious about the slug, by the way. Max out that form as fast as you can and prepare to eliminate hordes of enemies in seconds.
Humor and character dialogue do well to match the absurdity. Drinkbox Studios manages to toe the line between natural humor and trying too hard. Some characters are groan-inducing for sure, but it turns out I’m not supposed to like them anyway!
Nobody Saves the World is a great way to spend a weekend. You can get lost in the journey and discovery. Playing around with new forms and skills truly never gets old. The magic runs out, though, when there’s nothing left to discover. What’s left after that is still an excellent action RPG. I wish there was more to unlock and play around with. Even after throwing me dozens of forms and seemingly countless customization options, I wanted more.