14 years after the JRPG “The World Ends With You” there is a successor. It makes a lot of new things technically, but remains extremely true to the roots.
“The World Ends With You” was already convincing 14 years ago not only as a well-made Japano RPG, but also with its story about a group of dead young people who can fight for a chance at a second life against an ominous cult. Social criticism and topics such as mental illnesses were not glossed over or exaggerated, but implemented in a credible manner. And religious and philosophical content was also to be found.
In any case, the game was enthusiastic – but you had to wait a long time for the successor. “Neo: The World Ends With You” has now been released for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch by Square Enix. Again it goes to an alternative version of the city Tokyo, which now shines like everything in the game in 3D. The content is known from the predecessor: groups of young people come together week after week to complete the missions of the mysterious “Reaper” and thus to have a wish come true.
As players, however, we no longer slip into the skin of the previous protagonist Neku, but into that of the student Rindo Kanade, who unexpectedly ends up in the underground and in the bizarre games of the Reaper. There he is teamed up with his classmate Tosai Furesawa and the student Nagi Usui and must form a team with them to avoid extinction in the coming weeks – while monsters attack the city.
As a player, you don’t have to have any knowledge from the previous game to enjoy “Neo: The World Ends With You”. However, in the course of the approximately 55 to 60 hours long adventure, some storylines that the predecessor had left open will also be brought to an end. And what the successor does really well: It offers unique characters with a lot of humor and feeling as well as crazy plot twists in a story that is not already exciting. Simply great!
Works fine in 3D too
Although the graphics in the game have completely changed to 3D, the game has retained its very own JRPG style, which has already made its predecessor a cult. “Neo: The World Ends With You” is a stylish adventure that mixes anime scenes with visual novel elements in game scenes as colorfully and quickly as the music style changes from groovy electronic and heavy metal sounds to calm background music. If Neo: The World Ends With You weren’t a game, but a series, we’d be just as addicted.
However, if you only want to follow the battles and the main story, the game could be a bit overwhelmed: There are dozens of NPCs, hundreds of distractions and thousands of sideline activities waiting for players who can get lost in the streets of the city for hours because there is just so much to see there. But what do you actually do in the core? While the player walks through the city and explores it, he is given Reaper missions via smartphone. However, they usually consist of the same elements: small puzzles, combat and exploration.
Skills balance out monotonous struggles
While in the majority of cases you are sent to a new area of the city, monsters or opposing teams are already waiting there to be defeated. Sometimes extremely simple search or puzzle elements add to the action. Thanks to the ingenious and gigantic pin system, the same process does not get boring for a long time. The more than 300 badges that can be collected from fallen opponents give our three to four team members various attacks and effects, each of which can be upgraded further and further.
The combat system itself is also designed to be entertaining: If you attack with one team member, you automatically switch to the next, which is a convenience function. In addition, the team’s attacks are interlinked and can trigger extremely strong special attacks. Most opponents do not pose a particular challenge, but trying out a wide variety of skills and playing with the special abilities compensates for this well. It is a pity, however, that no more boss fights have found their way into the title, because they are very innovative with quite creative approaches.
Like its predecessor, it was already cult
As it should be in a Japanese game, food also plays a major role, of course. Snack shops with their delicacies serve as a contact point to raise your own status values. Smart thought: Here you cannot level up indefinitely through farming, but only eat a certain amount, the calories of which then have to be burned again through fighting. There are also style points depending on the chosen outfit, which can itself provide buffs and side effects. Please: In the game itself, the outfits are not visible on the character, only in the outfit system.
“Neo: The World Ends With You” is more than a worthy sequel to the cult predecessor. You not only stay true to your roots with the over-the-top story, the great skill system and the stylish design, but also many points of criticism such as monotonous fights or recurring processes. It’s no wonder that this doesn’t detract from the fun of the game, because the 3D implementation looks fresh and a role-playing game with such a crazy concept, such a bombastic soundtrack and so much freedom to experiment is rarely convincing.