NEO: The World Ends With You is the newest action RPG from Square Enix. It is the sequel to the cult classic DS game The World Ends With You. Developed by h.a.n.d. for Nintendo Switch and PS4, releasing July 27th 2021 with a PC port coming later this year. Many fans never expected the series to get a sequel so the hype behind the game is massive. Does it live up to its expectations? Read on to find out.
The story follows Rindo Kanade, a high school student, who, along with his best friend Tosai Furesawa gets caught up in the “Reapers Game”, a mysterious game taking place in Shibuya where the last placed team is erased. He forms the Wicked Twisters and sets out to avoid erasure. The story has plenty of twists and turns throughout and kept me engaged. The characters are consistently well written and charming. While most characters fit into a cliché, they have enough personality and depth to still be endearing. The dialogue is entertaining with fantastic voice acting in both English and Japanese.
The games visual style is exceptional. Shibuya has been recreated in a very stylish that oozes charm. Small details like buildings curving as you walk down streets give the game so much personality and makes it stand out from other games. Combat looks and feels incredibly smooth with each attack having its own distinct flair and enemies have varied and interesting with creative designs. Key story moments are shown through beautifully animated cutscenes that could easily be featured in an anime. The games dialogue is presented in a manga style with fantastic 2d art for each of the games characters who have all been designed in a very stylish way. The character designs are one of the most striking parts about the game with every character standing out from the crowd. Overall, I think that the visual presentation of the game is incredible and shows that a game doesn’t need realistic graphics to look great.
The game plays as an Action RPG, the series has switched to fully 3D compared to the first games 2D game. The combat revolves around pins, which allow you to use different psychic abilities against enemies. There are hundreds of different pins to find throughout the game, giving you great opportunities to experiment with different setups to find what suits your playstyle best. I found the combat to be extremely fun and enjoyed chaining together different attacks with each party member. The game also features the option to reduce your party’s level to increase the drop rate of pins. This creates a great risk-reward system for players who want more challenge. You also have the option to increase difficulty so that rarer pins drop from enemies. This combines with the ability to reduce your level and a variety of pins to make a highly customizable gameplay experience.
Outside of combat you spend most of your time exploring Shibuya, with certain areas accessible each in-game day. Exploring these areas is a joy thanks to the games visuals. In each day you are given a main task to advance the games main story but in typical JRPG fashion there’s also plenty of side quests to complete along the way, helping citizens of Shibuya with their problems. These side quests are fairly short but well done. Party members each have a unique ability that is used outside of combat. For example, one character is able to remind people of things they had forgotten. These abilities add interesting twists to the gameplay. Eating is an important part of the game as it is a great way to increase the stats of your party members and helps increase style which is important in getting the most out of the games equipment system.
The game has a massive amount of different pieces of equipment which take the form of different items of clothing called threads. Along with your standard stat boosts each piece of equipment has a special ability that can only be accessed if the characters style stat is high enough. These abilities are worth using so raising each characters style stat is important. Overall, I think the gameplay is fantastic and hours can easily fly by while you’re playing.
The games soundtrack is incredibly memorable and has already made its way into my playlists. The soundtrack covers all sorts of genres and each track is consistently great. It contributes a lot to the games incredibly stylish atmosphere. Almost everything about the game is stylish and the soundtrack is a key part of this. It makes exploring Shibuya a fantastic experience and I believe its one of the best examples of an amazing video game soundtrack. The game features both English and Japanese voices which both bring the games larger than life characters to life well.
Overall, NEO: The World Ends With You is a fantastic game with an incredible soundtrack and some of the best art direction I’ve seen in a long time, which makes for an extremely memorable experience alongside its interesting story that keeps you guessing.
An incredibly stylish game supported by a great story and engaging combat.