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I’ve considered The World Ends With You usually within the 14 years since its Nintendo DS debut. Its unbelievable soundtrack, the irresistible vibes of town of Shibuya, and its compelling coming-of-age journey caught with me even when the bizarre intricacies of its plot had pale. So my need for its long-awaited Change sequel, NEO: The World Ends With You, was not essentially that it could reply each hanging plot thread that had been left on the finish of a sport I performed years in the past. Relatively, I hoped it may recapture the emotions that made the unique so particular: themes of development, connection, and love of a spot due to its individuals.
Whereas NEO largely delivers in that regard, what’s additionally clear is that Sq. Enix was so wanting to finally revisit the identical tales, characters, and locations of its predecessor that it left this follow-up little room to inform an fascinating new story or attain a brand new emotional peak of its personal. Nonetheless, it’s a homecoming that’s pulled off nicely sufficient, with a flashy signature type and entertaining fight mechanics that have been translated surprisingly nicely to the Change.
NEO: The World Ends With You Pre-Launch Screenshots
NEO: The World Ends With You takes place in a parallel model of Shibuya, Japan, the place the deceased are despatched to play a sadistic week-long “Reapers’ Recreation” for the correct to return to life. The passive new protagonist Rindo and his charming cinnamon roll of a finest buddy Fret are despatched to this alternate actuality after Rindo has an odd and upsetting imaginative and prescient of Shibuya in chaos, and are later joined by the fangirlish Nagi and returning, math-obsessed, former antagonist Minamimoto. Throughout seven days, the group completes challenges, fights off unusual monster-like enemies referred to as the Noise, and solves puzzles set by the demise warden Reapers. It is a set-up that shall be acquainted to followers of the primary sport, however with the fascinating new twist that as an alternative of pairing off, gamers can type groups of limitless measurement and work collectively as a gaggle to “win” and set their whole group free. This welcome alternative that enables NEO to discover a a lot bigger get together of allies without delay than the primary sport may, whereas additionally opening the door to dynamics between competing gamers moderately than merely implying their existence.
Though Rindo and pals are successfully ghosts, they’ll nonetheless work together in restricted methods with the real-world Shibuya by visiting outlets or eating places. And simply as within the first sport, Shibuya stays a delight to discover, full of style, meals, music, and tradition. It is vibrant and exuberant, filled with real-world references and clearly assembled by a workforce of artists and designers that adores the precise metropolis. A few of the finest goals in NEO contain attending to know its fictional Shibuya higher, whether or not that’s by exploring its city legends or in search of out notable landmarks. I beloved popping into eating places to stuff my characters with mouth-watering ramen, piles of fluffy pancakes, and spicy curry, or revisiting outlets chapter after chapter to see what sizzling new couture I may buff them up with.
However past these daring strokes, NEO is stuffed with small touches that carry its Shibuya to life. You possibly can see them in its detailed artwork and character designs, and within the taste textual content of apparatus and the skill-tree-like “social community.” However the most effective instance stems from Rindo’s capability to scan NPCs and browse their ideas. Aside from the required plot moments, scanning serves no gameplay goal past supplying you with a greater understanding of the world of NEO. Passersby will muse about their relationships, idols, TV exhibits, meals, gaming, college, work, and many extra. You possibly can’t do something with this info, however these pensive moments are well-written and charming, and assist paint a brighter image of NEO’s Shibuya and why its inhabitants find it irresistible a lot.
Inseparable from all of that is NEO’s music, which continues within the footsteps of its predecessor as probably the most stand-out and bopping online game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. It spans a number of genres together with hip-hop, rock, pop, and steel, and consists of loads of new tracks alongside remixes of fan favorites – usually completely timed atop large story moments that excited me as a long-time fan. There are only a few songs on this playlist that aren’t earworms, although new hits like Kill the Itch, fowl within the hand, Breaking Free, and remixes of Calling, Transformation, and Tornado are stand-outs.
Alongside its joyous portrayal of Shibuya, what additional impressed me all through NEO have been the myriad methods wherein it was additionally capable of translate the spirit of the unique’s mechanics and really feel onto a really, very totally different console – one which, in case you didn’t discover, solely has a single display screen. Nowhere is that this extra evident than within the real-time battle system, which layers acquainted 3D hacking and slashing with a timing-based combo system and an entire host of customizability. NEO succeeds on the unenviable job of following up a dual-screen, contact input-focused system with a button-based one, whereas nonetheless emphasizing teamwork and “circulation” between the totally different characters.
The World Ends With You on DS had you activating ability-granting “pins” in battle by utilizing totally different touchscreen motions, reminiscent of faucets, swipes, or drawing sure shapes. In NEO, every character in your get together can now solely be geared up with a single pin at a time, with totally different pins equivalent to totally different sorts of assaults which might be every cleverly assigned to a selected button. For example, the X button will sometimes have pins with rapidfire, close-range assaults, whereas Y has quick long-range strikes. Every character can use a pin a sure variety of occasions earlier than it should recharge, making it essential to stability their utilization so you are not sitting in your butt half the battle. The sheer amount and variety of pins accessible made discovering them, rising them into stronger types, and testing them in several mixtures to attain a clean circulation throughout fight a blast, particularly within the later chapters and as soon as I began chasing pins solely accessible on more durable difficulties.
There’s additionally a “groove” system that rewards you with highly effective finishers for accurately timing combos and chaining assaults between totally different characters that’s particularly satisfying. I beloved the joys of Fret pulling off a pristine combo with a flaming sword, adopted up by an enormous aerial kick from Minamimoto, passing to Rindo to shoot electrical energy out of his arms for a spell, and wrapping all of it up by having Nagi drop a semi-truck on an enemy’s head earlier than launching right into a workforce finisher transfer, then passing again to Fret to do it another time. That is a peak I used to be all the time chasing, however the actuality was that I spent an honest chunk of the roughly 40- to 50-hour marketing campaign experimenting to seek out the moments the place it flowed excellent like that.
Particularly in NEO’s first half, you will not have a large sufficient arsenal of pins to have completely clean battles each time – and even if you happen to do, your favourite pins may be outclassed by much less comfortable ones in sheer injury numbers. The answer is normally to grind extra or strive more durable difficulties within the hope of getting higher pins, which isn’t essentially a really perfect reply. Although it is price including that, having appreciated the issue choices and related collect-a-thons from The World Ends With You, I used to be delighted to see these customizations return in all their robustness for NEO, additional giving me cause to return after the credit had rolled.
Hitting these good vibes are what is going to finally keep on with me about NEO’s battle system, however the groove had its missteps, too. For one, NEO’s boss battles appeared to solely both be efficient however unmemorable, or flashy however irritating. The later hours have a variety of battles with some really fascinating twists and turns, however its dodge and digital camera controls aren’t all the time as much as the duty of protecting your workforce out of hazard but additionally in view. Since you solely management one character at a time (whichever one final used a pin), the AI is left to handle the remainder of your get together and can usually stroll them by poison clouds or immediately into assaults that you simply accurately dodged, which means you would possibly lose a struggle right here or there regardless of doing all the pieces proper. This doesn’t occur usually, however in fights with large enemies boasting hard-hitting strikes, it could actually really feel extra such as you’re preventing your comrades than the enemy.
I additionally bumped into a number of annoying bugs in battles, particularly in later chapters. A number of occasions, enemies mysteriously acquired launched exterior the official boundaries of the battlefield, making them almost unimaginable to hit and forcing me to randomly hearth off long-range assaults within the hope a number of would join and ultimately whittle down their HP so I may transfer on. One enemy turned invisible (it was not supposed to show invisible, although there are different foes that do have this as a purposeful mechanic) and have become fully undamageable by anybody for any cause, forcing me to start out a sequence of eight interlinked fights another time. One other time, NEO fully crashed as I used to be coming into a really dramatic boss struggle. These have been small blips within the grand scheme, however occurred simply usually sufficient to frustrate and advantage point out.
Depraved Plot Twisters
Story-wise, NEO is as direct a sequel to The World Ends With You as one may need, regardless of coming 14 years after it. With out moving into any spoiler-y specifics, put merely: if you happen to appreciated The World Ends With You and are hungry for decision to the quite a few plot threads left dangling on the finish of it, NEO is prone to be very satisfying. I extremely advocate both enjoying The World Ends With You: Ultimate Combine or watching the anime first, although – whereas the characters strive their finest to summarize sure main occasions key to the setup of NEO, the bizarre intricacies of that story might be troublesome to comply with if you happen to’re simply listening to characters ship rushed summaries to a confused Rindo.
What NEO sadly sacrifices in its success as a direct sequel are its new, authentic characters. Rindo, Fret, Nagi, Shoka, Kanon, and different new members of the solid have occasional moments of depth and improvement, however they by no means fairly attain the heights of the arcs within the first sport. The primary World Ends With You was all about Shiki, Beat, Joshua, and particularly predominant protagonist Neku coming to phrases with their very own weaknesses, reckoning with trauma, and rising up a little bit by their connections with each other. NEO’s new solid does not get the identical house to sort out that development as a result of they’re consistently giving up their very own time to returning plots and issues.
What We Stated About The World Ends With You: Ultimate Remix
Due to the Change’s two modes, The World Ends With You: Ultimate Remix is concurrently a superb port and a foul one. Utilizing handheld mode and touchscreen controls, Ultimate Remix holds up as an excellent JRPG with tons of depth. It packs all of the aptitude and appeal seen within the DS authentic, together with some new incentives to maintain enjoying after the story wraps. However the second you dock the Change and attempt to use movement controls TWEWY turns into a ache to play, which eliminates the enjoyable of the brand new cooperative mode. The rearranged and remixed soundtrack is nice and the story delights, however if you happen to’ve performed earlier than you could wish to suppose twice earlier than double (or triple) dipping.
After they do get a little bit of character improvement, it is normally all smashed into in the future right here or there, with characters making daring pronouncements about themselves or others with little build-up or clarification. The principle protagonist, Rindo, specifically will get achieved soiled by an arc that boils his issues all the way down to a single, flimsy character flaw he solely meaningfully reveals a few times. The remainder of the time he is not far more than a plot supply automobile. With out your lead hero having a significant battle or a central perspective, lots of NEO’s meant emotional peaks don’t matter almost as a lot as they need to, whether or not you performed the unique or not.
That’s a disgrace, as a result of Rindo and his pals are a genuinely enjoyable group to spend time with, particularly in comparison with the delinquent tendencies of their predecessor, Neku. The writing of NEO is, largely, a pleasant bit of labor that leans into trendy youth and meme tradition with out coming off as too corny or “How do you do, fellow children?”, and it has each the English and Japanese voice performing to match. The one exception is a spoiler-loaded character that seems in the midst of the story, whose speech felt each awkward and appropriative in a approach that was completely pointless on condition that character’s setup.
As somebody who adored The World Ends With You as a young person and waited eagerly for a sequel for over a decade, I discovered myself feeling a bit conflicted about what NEO tried to do and whether or not or not it succeeded. It’s a worthy sequel each in the way it captures the texture and spirit of the DS sport, in addition to within the very direct methods wherein it follows up its story. However with such an extended hole between the 2, I discovered myself dissatisfied that NEO leaned so closely on the nostalgia I had for characters I beloved as a young person, and didn’t do extra to embrace the brand new characters and tales I used to be excited to get invested in as an grownup (and particularly those that headlined all its advertising).
It’s onerous to say a lot with out spoiling something, however there’s some extent about 20 hours into the 40- to 50-hour story the place it turns into very obvious that NEO shouldn’t be actually about what the trailers and field artwork need you to suppose it’s about. That may be high-quality for some, particularly those that checked out the Ultimate Combine model of The World Ends With You or the latest anime, however even these connections can’t magically give NEO a theme and throughline of its personal as robust as its predecessor. NEO feels prefer it’s right here to complete what The World Ends With You began, and it does that nicely sufficient. I simply want it hadn’t sacrificed its personal story and characters to take action.