Nobody Saves the World is a new RPG for Xbox and PC that’s earned quite a bit of buzz in gaming circles. And it’s not because we’ve never seen the kind of grinding and bashing gameplay that this title offers, but because of how it’s delivered—with a mix of zany humor and a collection of odd, quick-switch characters.
The game starts you out with a little guy named Nobody (who you certainly wouldn’t pick on face value for world-saving). He’s nothing but a pasty-skinned, black-eyed guy whose memory is as empty as his eyes. So when he wanders out into the strange land around him, he’s quickly sent to a local wizard named Nostramagus to seek wisdom and help.
Unfortunately, that fellow has gone missing. And at the same time a mystical plague called The Calamity has beset the kingdom and its people. What to do?!
Well, luckily our little nobody comes upon a magic wand left behind by Nostramagus and, after being maliciously dropped into a dungeon-like place, he works to set things aright. (I mean, what else has he got to do?)
Nobody Saves the World asks you to make your way through begrimed basements, creepy castles, malodorous mineshafts and putrid pumpkins, to name but a few less-than-scenic stops. The goal is to mow down hordes of corrupted monsters while seeking out hidden-away gem pieces that can banish the plague infestation. And maybe, just maybe, Nobody can find out what happened to him along the way.
To help with those quests, Nobody uses the magician’s wand to shift forms. Morphing into a rat, for instance, lets him slip through small spaces and chomp uglies with sharp, poisonous teeth. A guard form wields a stout metal sword, a ranger a bow and arrows. A horse packs a set of solidly walloping back hooves.
There are specific quests for each form (which also include a bodybuilder, a slug, a ghost, a mermaid, a zombie, a robot and more) and players can switch quickly between forms to face off with different baddies who have different vulnerabilities. As quests are accomplished, the various forms gain upgraded moves and stronger skills. And they also get to the point where they can exchange different skillsets between each other. So, the horse might gallop along while flicking out a flurry of arrows with the ranger’s bow.
This game is active and packed with quirky and humorous visuals and printed-out dialogue interactions. Your characters are regularly attacked by hordes of foes, but each of those baddies has their own weaknesses. Figuring that out and switching to the best form allows you to eliminate baddies rather quickly.
As an RPG, Nobody Saves the World requires you to grind your way through many, many mobs of foes as a way to fulfill quests and upgrade your forms. But this game’s creative dungeons and enemies keep things from feeling overly repetitive. And the different vulnerabilities of the baddies—along with the mix-and-match abilities system of your good-guy forms—also keeps the game fresh as you work to create a favorite combination build with which to take on the harder challenges.
All in all, the gameplay is challenging and well-designed.
Nobody Saves the World’s attacking bad guys are all created in colorful 2-D, but they’re supposed to be evil, hellish creatures.
And so, players wade through a collection of malformed monsters such as headless and legless torsos and skulls that shoot eyeballs. There are cat-like vampires and mutated, spikey-shelled crabs, alien spider-like thingies and crocodile creatures covered in eyes.
Those and other yucky cartoon beasties swarm around you in frenetic battle. And you crawl through environments that range from whale bellies to a disemboweled dragon. It’s all designed for cartoony gross-out “fun.” And your creature forms—along with the populace of witch, mummy, ghost and alien good guys on your side—are pretty creepy looking, too, while not being truly disturbing.
In addition, the mobs of foes you wade through splash apart in green, purple and other colored goop, leaving cartoon body parts and bones in their wake (along with turkey legs and the like that boost your life points). You also find a demon-like being on The Calamity plague character list, and its wicked warnings pop up in disembodied “voices” along the way. Play leads to a place called The Mouth of Hell and battle against a demonic, multi-limbed monstrosity.
We should note that light and dark magic are at the core of everything here (sometimes using a bit of blood), and spells are an important part of gameplay. There’s not a lot of foul language in the printed-out interactions, but you can find an occasional use of “h—,” “a–” and “d–n.” And in the midst of that printed humor, you’ll also find rare allusions to sensual things, such as you (while in horse form) mentioning your attraction to another horse and a quest involving turtles that fertilize their eggs.
Nobody Saves the World is a mixed bag of a game. The hacking, slashing, chomping gameplay itself is involving and draws you in with its creativity. But that humorous charm is also swirling around in a big cauldron of dark cartoony demon goop. That may appeal to older world-savers who can look beyond the cartoon evil, but parents might want to think twice before the kids splash on in.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.