#797 The World Ends With You

Posted: 26th February 2019 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , , , ,

764th played so far

Genre: Action/Role-Playing
Platform: Nintendo DS
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Square Enix/Jupiter
Publisher: Square Enix

Square Enix always seems to try to create new RPGs, playing around with the set formulas to see what new things they can create. This happens both in the changes to the Final Fantasy series as well as different series like Chrono Trigger. The World Ends With You is a more recent exmaple of that, using a modern day setting and some other interesting mechanics that I’m looking forward to trying.

Our Thoughts

The aesthetics of The World Ends With You stand out from the start, a roughly current era Tokyo – specifically the area around Shibuya, which always gives the odd sensation given I visited it a few years ago. Mixed in with that is a Jet Set Radio like, skater influenced style that especially applies to our main character Neku. Parts of the game feel like they’re in back alleys and service corridors, not just the busy streets of Tokyo. It’s not a setting and style that’s explored often and especially not in RPGs, but it works incredibly well here. There’s a weird focus on commercialism as well – your equipment comes from different brands, and since brands are associated with areas (and I guess the type of people who hang out there), your equipment will be stronger or weaker based on the brand’s placement in that area. It’s a nice touch that feels appropriate but unique.

The story makes use of that too. You get mixed up in a lethal competition that will end the world if you don’t finish it, although the protagonist doesn’t care as much early on. The fact that it’s limited like that creaes a sense of urgency – I don’t think there’s an actual time limit, but there’s a push to keep going forward even if the game doesn’t require you to finish in a certain time. The story feels like it can keep ramping it up and pulling that off, in part because it mixes it with the life of ordinary people at the same time, mostly through the sub and side missions you get.

The battle system feels as different. You can adjust your level, first of all, to determine your difficulty – although an easier battle also gets you less rewards. More interesting is that you play at two levels – you play on the touch screen, where you use equipped pins to perform different moves. It keeps your options focused, but works out well. At the same time, your partner is fighting on the top screen. The AI can control her, but if you want you can take over, doing more reflex based attacks and optimizing the attack boost through the light that switches between you. Still, that really feels like an advanced technique, which I wasn’t ready for yet.

Final Thoughts

The World Ends With You really relies on its setting in many ways – it defines its aesthetic, the game mechanics, the story and everything. It’s a lovely combination that I felt taken in by and will want to continue to dive into.