Fourteen years after the 2007 game The World Ends With You blew us away, the 2021 sequel Neo: The World Ends With You offers not only a new storyline, but the next generation of heroes as well.
In 2007, the Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix) team took a hiatus from producing odd-named sequels and worked on one of the best games on the Nintendo DS dual-screen handheld console. The World Ends with You – commonly abbreviated as TWEWY – mixed stunning visuals, with memorable characters, vivid world-building, and a player-worthy combat system that utilized the DS’s dual screens.
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Now, with Neo: The World Ends With You, the biggest challenge expected is to translate the style, the heart and the combat system on Switch and PlayStation 4 for today’s gamers.
Down with the reapers
The story begins on a normal day, after best friends Rindo Kanade and Fret on an outing in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Things suddenly get very weird and soon Rindo and Fret stumble upon some mysterious and rare pins, which transport to an alternate version of Shibuya. They are enrolled in a disturbingly sounding game called Reapers’ Game in which they have to fight with said pins against enemies called the Noise.
Neo: The world ends with you
- Developer: main
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Price: 4,999 (US $ 59) on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Coming soon to the Epic Games store on PC.
Set in another parallel dimension known as the Underground, Reaper’s Game is a seven-day ‘survival of the fittest’ event where you face challenges set by the game master and the Reapers. After seven days, the winner will have the choice of either coming back to life or taking a reward to the afterlife. So it’s up to Rindo and Fret as well as their qualifying team known as the Wicked Twisters to have a chance together against the other teams.
The first The World Ends with You was a surprise gem with a story with heart, something Neo strives to recreate but sadly trades the depth of the original’s story for something a little less deep. It’s disappointing that, at first, Neo is a tale of the Reapers’ Game. Thus, many questions about this gaming world have remained unanswered.
Since the first game was 14 years ago, with core gameplay components including the latest flip phones. Neo comes up with today’s smartphone technology and weaves the infused social media narrative into the mix, making it more relevant. This is a node graph-based advancement system where nodes are purchased using friendship points, providing different game abilities or features. Other familiar game features include scanning (an initiation before the battle) and printing.
Neo is a blast from the past, which keeps the basic game mechanic around pins that grant you and your team special moves. There are 300 pins to collect and while you can only equip one per character, you can use all of them in battle. This prompts you to embark on more battles and quests to get the rarest and most powerful pins. Fortunately, this is one aspect of the game that is an improvement over the original.
The action takes place in a real-time, melee-based third-person 3D sub-game, so you can unleash a barrage of special moves on well-designed monster enemies. The ultimate goal is to maintain a chain of combos while exploiting the attacks and unique properties of the pins. When you’re not hunting down and fighting the enemies of noise, you’re free to explore Shibuya, do side quests, and learn more about this alternate world and its bizarre subculture. Although the game technically takes place over seven days, you can travel through the timeline to collect everything and complete it all, thanks to special time travel powers.
Just like the game mechanics, the unique style of the game also stays true to the original. The style is a confluence of street graffiti, pop art, and comic book style that looks eye-catching in bold anime cutscenes and character art. The music is an amalgamation of trendy Japanese rock and punk to get you going as you play.
While Neo’s story does not hold the candle to the original, it is a new game for the next generation of gamers. We look forward to more The World Ends With You games in the years to come.