Nobody saves the world is pretty great. Between its use of its ability combo and form swapping mechanics, I found it to be an incredibly fun game. The only problem I have with the gameplay is that it mouse/keyboard simply doesn’t play well. A controller is basically required. Otherwise I had a fantastic time with it.
Nobody Saves the World is played from a top down perspective, where you take on the role of the Nobody, a short, blank eyed sort of blob person with no memories of their past. After waking up in a dilapidated shack, and “borrowing” a magic wand from the home of the great wizard Nostramagnus, you set off on a quest to find Nostramagnus, save the world, and figure out how exactly you got here in the first place.
The magic wand you ‘borrowed’ ends up being the key to all of this, granting you the ability to shift forms. You start out only being able to swap between your pale blobby self and a rat that’s somehow still better in combat than your blobby self. But you’ll start to unlock more forms fairly quickly, such as Knight, Ranger, Magician (the rabbit-from-hat kind) and Egg.
There are two big things about the transformation system in Nobody Saves The World that I like, but explaining them is going to require a little bit more discussion of the other half of the game’s title: the “Saves The World” bit.
See, it turns out that two big problems have popped up at about the same time. The first problem is that the great wizard Nostramagnus who you “borrowed” the magic wand from has disappeared. The second problem is that a giant hivemind flesh blob thing called the Calamity has showed up and is trying to eat the entire world. Presumably Nostramagnus would deal with this if he wasn’t missing.
Anyway, since you have the magic wand, a few other characters decide that you might as well help collect pieces of the gem needed to reseal the Calamity, while they search for Nostramagnus before the world gets treated like a buffet.
Finding these gem pieces, all of which have ended up in large dungeons around the world, sealed by wand stars, is your primary goal. In order to unlock the dungeons, you’ll need to get enough wand stars, and occasionally convince the people guarding these places to let you in. As it turns out, “I am a very legitimate individual, let me through” is actually a pretty terrible way to get into a sacred mausoleum.
I think that’s enough background to give a good picture of the game’s primary gameplay loop. Explore to find locked dungeons, towns, and other stuff. Do side quests and mini-quests to get more wand stars, and unlock the game’s main dungeons. Clear the main dungeons to get MacGuffins to advance the story, giving you more areas to explore. I don’t think explanation quite does justice to how much fun doing all of the above is.
But anyway, remember when I mentioned several paragraphs ago that I like the game’s transformation system for two reasons? Let’s get back to that for a moment. A lot of games with transformation systems seem to use them as glorified keys. Turn into a penguin for the ice zone. Turn into a ninja for the stealth zone. Turn into a cop for the donut zone. But outside of the respective zones, each of those forms is often fairly useless.
NSTW doesn’t do that. While there are a few situations for where you need a form to travel, even those tend to be fairly open (i.e., if you need to get over a large body of water, the turtle, ghost, dragon or mermaid are all equally viable.) But the meat of the transformation system is all about combat, and it feels fantastic.
NSTW resembles an action RPG. Each form in Nobody Saves the World has a basic attack, and a passive ability, in addition to its base stats. These two abilities are locked onto that form, and they are fairly varied. As an example, the horse’s basic attack is a kick that hits behind the it, while the slug’s basic attack is a series of small projectiles that are fired after a brief charge time. The strongman has large slow attack that hits most of the area in front of him, while the ranger fires arrows. All these basic attacks regenerate mana when they hit an enemy.
But the forms aren’t limited to these attacks. As you rank up a form by completing its quests, you’ll unlock additional attacks, and when you hit various thresholds for just leveling in general, you’ll unlock additional passive slots.
Both the additional attack slots and passive slots aren’t locked however. You can switch them out with the attacks and passives of other forms that you’ve unlocked.
Here’s an example: the slug has one of the lowest base movement speeds in the game, but gets access to an ability that grants it 150% movement speed, and leaves a trail of slime on the ground behind it. You could equip the slug with the generic ability that raises its base movement speed to flat value that can’t be lowered. But you could also take that speed boost ability and put it onto the horse, who has one of the fastest movement speeds in the game, boosting its speed to ridiculous amounts, and traverse the map exceedingly fast. Of course, that still risks you running out of mana, so you’ll equip the ability that lets us spend health as mana, and now you have a turbocharged horse leaving a trail of slime behind it as it rockets across the map.
Maybe that’s not good enough though. Perhaps you want to add the strongman’s passive that makes it so that whenever you would bump into an enemy while slime sliding, you knock them back and deal damage to them if they collide with anything. Maybe you want to add the rat’s passive to build poison on hit, or the dragon’s that increases crit chance against the already slowed enemies.
Nobody Saves the World is absolutely chock full of interactions like this, and it encourages you to use them. Every single form has uses, and is fun to play, giving you a heavy amount of customization while also keeping the forms different through their built in basic attacks, and single locked passive.
And perhaps most importantly, Nobody Saves The World knows this, and it tries to show you these combos and tricks. Many of the quests to rank up a form require you to do something that the form’s basic skills won’t allow, and you have to figure out how to mix and match to best meet that requirement.
In addition, not every trick will work in every dungeon. Some dungeons won’t have healing items. Some dungeons will have enemies that are status immune. In one particularly interesting one, all damage dealt both from and to enemies is multiplied by 9,999, and this dungeon isn’t a gag or a joke! It’s a puzzle to be solved with clever ability usage and munchkin tactics.
There’s a few parts to the combat system I’m not even covering here, such as status effects and elemental wards, but I want to talk about another thing the game does as well.
Purely on its combat alone, Nobody Saves The World would be great. However, in addition to that, it has some incredible art, and great writing. The feel of the world reminds me of something like Gravity Falls: a bright, vibrant place but with some bite to it. There are a lot of fairly funny moments, and also a few pretty powerful ones.
Okay, so let’s wrap this up.
I personally think that the highest form of praise that can be given to any piece of media is to engage with it, and for games that means playing it. For Nobody Saves the World, I played through the whole game, and then started the game’s New Game+ mode, and played through all of that. I’ve hit the game’s level cap, gotten every single Steam achievement, and completed every quest. The game is just incredibly fun, and the world, writing and art is so good that I went out of my way to play the whole thing twice.
Nobody Saves the World is available on Steam, and various consoles. It’s like $25, and its absolutely worth it.
PS: For anyone wondering how the egg could possibly be useful… Despite its incredibly low stats, it has a self heal ability. The heal doesn’t heal too much HP, BUT when you shift forms, your HP % stays the same, and if you equip the “Spend life as mana” passive, you heal more than you take. So you can switch to the egg, heal up to full, and then switch back to another form and be back at max health.
PPS: The second highest form of praise (and probably the first highest if you’re actually the developer) is buying the game for other people. I did that too.