Nobody Saves The World Is A Satisfyingly Grindy Zelda-Like

Nobody Saves The World Is A Satisfyingly Grindy Zelda-Like

The hero of Nobody Saves The World is holding a magic wand.

Image: Drinkbox Studios

nobody saves the world is a game about filling up meters, leveling up and watching the numbers grow. At first I didn’t think it quite worked for me, but like a video game’s equivalent of an earworm crawling through my gray matter, it wasn’t long before the hours ticked away. begin to pass without me even realizing it. It’s a testament to the finesse of the combat and exploration in the game, which never lasts more than a few minutes without something new to discover, kill or upgrade, even if the overall experience can sometimes feel like binge on empty calories.

In 2013, Toronto-based indie developer Drinkbox Studios launched Guacamele!, a dynamic side-scrolling Metroidvania that was as much a button-beater as it was a brain maze navigator. Drinkbox had released a few games before that, but it was the lucha-libre-inspired platformer that put the studio on the map. Then Drinkbox spent most of the years trapped by its own success, releasing ports, remasters, and a sequel (although action adventure swipe-fest Severed was a welcome detour). With Nobody Saves the World, out January 20 on Xbox, Game Pass, and Steam, the studio’s 10-year history has been funneled into an ambitious new structure that excels in new areas without losing Drinkbox’s idiosyncratic charm and style. .


Nobody Saves The World features two-game online co-op. While there are some major downsides – player two can only be a clone of the host player and doesn’t progress through their own game – the game handles well and is more fun in company.

You play as, surprise, a featureless meat puppet named Person whose special power is a wand he can use to change shape. Need to fit into tight spaces? Become a poisonous mouse. Need to swim in the water? Transform into a mermaid that shoots bubbles. An Evil Calamity™ threatens the world, and only you can stop it, roaming dungeon after dungeon in search of new powers and special gems that can save the land from untold horrors. Most of the time, you’re crushing hordes of monsters, gaining money and levels, and spending them to increase your powers in a continuous cycle of destruction and progression.

A donkey confronts a vampire as it crosses a bridge.

Screenshot: Drinkbox Studios

This feedback loop rests on three pillars. Each form, like the bow-wielding Ranger or the rabbit-breeding Magician, can rank up, unlocking new forms and powers. These powers can be mixed and matched in different forms, so you can, for example, give the Knight’s trample to the Ranger, or the Ranger’s poison damage to the Magician’s army of rabbits. Finally, some enemies have color barriers that can only be broken by certain damage types. It’s a mechanic from the Guacamelee! games that add much-needed depth and difficulty to combat. You can also change forms on the fly, expanding your options to take on even more waves of enemies and boss fights. Just when you think you’ve become overpowered, a new combination of enemies and shields will force you to get creative again and find a new strategy.

Rather than leveling up just to kill stuff, you do so by completing specific challenges like killing 50 enemies with poison. Like a well-calibrated battle pass, Nobody Saves the World continues to subtly shift your goals alongside your evolving arsenal. But instead of working hard in exchange for cosmetic trinkets, you work to unlock more fun and efficient ways to progress through the game, which, unlike the purgatory of a live treadmill, has an end.

The protagonist of Nobody Saves The World lands on a crowd of enemies inside a pink dungeon.

Screenshot: Drinkbox Studios

If you enjoy filling up meters and testing out creative new builds to effectively dispatch enemy mobs, like me, this is a recipe for several long nights of fun. Drinkbox has tried to keep boredom to a minimum by making new milestones happen quickly and often. Dungeons that you might have to grind a handful of times before taking down a larger boss subtly remix each time in a roguelite fashion so they feel more like theme park rides than prisons.

Nobody Saves The World’s map is also full of side quests and NPCs to distract you and send you on brief excursions deeper into its bizarre world. None of the ones I encountered felt particularly outstanding (I’m close to halfway through the game), but they add variety to the all-you-can-eat buffet. And that’s not to mention The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’s jaw-dropping reimagining of an old-school-style overworld, and composer Jim Guthrie’s excellent soundtrack.

Nobody saves the world can feel like you’re being overwhelmed at times. In addition to its density and repetitiveness, each enemy you kill rewardingly explodes into coins and health refills, and each new challenge you complete carries a glowing seal of approval. Binging works when you never feel full, and with Nobody Saves the World, I felt stuffed at times, but after I had time to calm down again, I always wanted to come back for more. I only wish some of my favorite hit RPGs could track their progress so closely.


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