Developed and published by DrinkBox Studios (also developers of indie hit Guacamelee!), Nobody Saves the World is an action role-playing dungeon-crawler I’ve spent a lot of time with over the last couple weeks.
Enticed by its visual art style, which bolsters a bright, colorful aesthetic, that feels realized and polished with charm that stretches for days, Nobody Saves the World was an immediate entry in my queue on release, downloaded through Xbox GamePass.
Although I had other videogames I wanted to write about, like Young Souls and my ongoing review of Elden Ring, when Nobody Saves the World announced the addition of local coop, I knew I had to step in and see the zany Legend of Zelda – esque crawler for myself.
Nobody Saves the World follows Nobody, that’s you. You’re Nobody. Nobody is a pale adrogynous humanoid with little noteworthy characteristics to talk about. Everything changes, however, when he finds himself equipped with a magic wand and tasked with stopping an evil Calamity that threatens to infect the entire world.
The story for Nobody Saves the World is conventional and straightforward, although it does try to add some new wrinkles to the fold in the homestretch. The story beats are predictable, as are the resolutions, but they’re also benefited by the cartoonish way they’re presented, as well as the goofy charm of its dialogue and characters. Sometimes, admittedly, I will admit I found myself wishing I had less of it, wanting more dungeon-crawling and less exposition, but I think its likability is enough to make that feel like a minor gripe.
Although the storyline itself is conventional and straightforward, with predictable story beats and plot resolutions, it is benefited by the goofy charm of its dialogue and characters. Sometimes, admittedly though, I will say I found myself wishing
The real meat of Nobody Saves the World is through its gameplay and its approach to leveling up your character throughout. Played from a top-down perspective, Nobody Saves the World sees you entering dungeons all culminating in a final battle at the end. The kicker is – your character’s magic wand allows the player to choose between over a dozen different characters. For instance, the player may choose to play as The Magician, whose special abilities include things like being able to summon animals from his hat to help you. Or, the player may choose a Turtle, whose waterblast can knock back enemies, and, more importantly, can swim across areas that would otherwise be unreachable to you.
The gameplay is simple at first, but has an unexpected level of depth behind it. This is because, each character you unlock, also unlocks their abilities for other characters. Burlier characters like the Strongman ask you to approach things with a “Tank-like” mindset. That is, until you equipped him with the Horse‘s special gallop ability or, even, the Turtle’s waterblast. Then, all bets are off.
Nobody Saves the World lets you approach it in innumerable ways, asking you to develop your best Build and fight forward.
Something else I’d mention as distinctive is the way you level-up and progress through Nobody Saves the World. This is through the use of Stars, which are needed to open main-quest dungeons, obtained through completing side-quest dungeons and objectives, as well as from leveling up your characters. That’s how you progress. How you level up (and unlock more Stars) is through completing specific tasks for each character. They may ask you to defeat enemies a certain way or equipped a skill that otherwise would not be attached to that particular character.
It is a novel way of making the player approach Nobody Saves the World is unique ways and offers a new sense of accomplishment to its gameplay. I’d equate it to how Borderlands would have constant objectives happening in the background for you (like collecting machinery from a particular brand, killing enemies, etc.), but that it is more-or-less mandatory instead of optional.
As much as I like the idea of leveling system, it is a mixed-bag and, frankly, became kind of tedious by the end. In-order to unlock new characters, you need to level up the characters you have, and you can only level up your characters through completing the objectives asked of you. That means, you don’t receive experience for defeating enemies or bosses, etc., but only from completing those particular tasks. So, you have to do them.
In its defense, Nobody Saves the World doesn’t require you to max out all the characters in-order to unlock everybody. All the same, in spite what I appreciated was a unique way to handle ‘grinding,’ I can’t help but feel like it went a couple steps too far with it by the end. Considering that I played with my wife, which meant we both more-or-less tag-teamed the leveling system, I can’t imagine what it would have been like in single player.
Likewise, the added side-quests assigned by villagers also felt like they had significantly diminished returns by the end. It felt like busywork when what I wanted was straightforward dungeon-crawling action.
Like I said, I spent a good amount of time with Nobody Saves the World by the end. I completed the first campaign in about 20 hours and completed New Game + in about 7 hours, unlocking every Achievement and maxing out every character’s abilities.
For Achievement Hunters, I would call it a bit of a chore by the end, but, in no way, undoable. No task was too daunting, and I also found the New Game + playthrough to be far easier and more enjoyable than the original playthrough (collectibles carry over from your first playthrough and you don’t have to complete a single side-quest. Just dungeon, dungeon, dungeon.).
Nobody Saves the World is a fun and neat, little dungeon-crawler, benefited by its own charm and energy, as well as its unique gameplay. Certain aspects may feel like they could’ve been tightened or loosened, or done differently altogether, but, all in all, I would recommend it.