Very rarely does a game surpass my expectations of it, yet The World Ends With You proved to be one of those few. With an deep plot, interesting game mechanics and a superb soundtrack, TWEWY will surely exceed your expectations too.
The story takes an interesting spin on purgatory – those who die in the RG (Realground) are given the chance to return to life in the UG (Underground). Neku, after waking up in the middle of the scramble crossing in Shibuya, is forced to flee after being attacked by beings later called “Noise”. He meets with Shiki, a fellow “Player”, who explains the basic idea of the world they find themselves in and how to survive. Players meet the bad guys, meet some new friends and go forth into battle (Typical of Square Enix titles, no?)
The playable characters (And a handful of NPCs) themselves are highly relatable, each with their own agendas, dreams and regrets. Whilst it’s arguable that some characters are overrated or cliché, its interesting to note that they raise a variety of modernist ideas. In a sense, the characters are used to acknowledge modern social issues, ranging from depression, ideas of beauty, perfection and even familial disorder. The best part? These are all aimed towards young adults.
The art style of the game is, in my opinion, addictive, original and exciting. The characters themselves are detailed sprites in both the over-world and battle screens. The story art and backgrounds are extremely stimulating – almost as if hip hop was translated into 2D art (Which isn’t surprising when listening to the music of the game). Song tracks in the game are a reflection of typical “teen” interests, with most of them being upbeat and highly rhythmic (It’s one of them cool hits, Yo).
Most of the game is controlled via the touch screen of the DS, with certain functions and the story being in the upper screen. The weapons and items of the game are also “modernised” – traditional Square Enix swords, magics and potions are transformed into “Pins” that are controlled by the mind. Armour gets a makeover too – shields, chest plates and helmets become dresses, accessories and clothes that augment the user’s abilities.
“Psych” Pins can be levelled up and evolved through three different methods and there’s even a mini-game that details the in-game popularity of the Pins. Players can also scan the area they are in with a special Pin, allowing them to see surrounding noise and the inner thoughts of RG inhabitants. Battle gameplay is slightly awkward and complex as the game allows players to control Neku (with swipes, taps and holds) whilst also controlling his partner on the upper screen (with the D-pad). Overall, the mechanics of the game are overwhelming and understandably difficult to follow for both the inexperienced and the more seasoned gamer alike.
Yet despite these faults, the game is intoxicating to play. With a plethora of secrets, collectibles and side-quests (Apparently, style is very important – as is befriending all those cute storekeepers), TWEWY is a refreshing change to traditional RPGs within the world of hand-held gaming. Despite being one of the lesser known games of Square Enix, this interesting mix of pop culture and gaming makes it one of the more memorable titles of video games.
Bry Rating: 4.8/5
Country Of Origin: Japan
Developer: Square Enix ; Jupiter