Looking back causes nostalgia, and this can have inadvertent effects. However, today we should be very happy, because NEO The World Ends With You has turned out to be a great JRPG, we could even say that it lives up to the quality of the original. You want to know why? I’ll tell you about it in this analysis.
I have great memories of The World Ends With You, and the feeling is that all those who tried it have a special relationship with that video game. It was unique. Launched more than a decade ago on Nintendo DS, it stood out for its avant-garde rendering of Shibuya, which helped outline the various aspects of its gameplay. Even today, thanks to a Final Remix version for Nintendo Switch, it can be enjoyed like the first day, and in fact I encourage you to do so if you still have it pending.
The question is: what does NEO The World Ends With You bring compared to its predecessor? You can wait new characters and a new plot in a game system optimized today, but with all the central elements that made the original great. And that’s not bad. Not at all. In fact, the “NEO” designation in the title does not mislead and is clearly representative of the intentions of the development team. The idea was not to start from scratch, but collect all the good things that had been done at TWEWY to offer us something new 14 years later.
This translates into an atypical JRPG, with a daring artistic section, some fighting that is far from the norm and an exploration based on delighting in the streets of one of the youngest, busiest and suburban neighborhoods of Tokyo. That and of course a plot that has kept me trapped during the 40-50 hours that the adventure lasts. In other words, a highly recommended game that those who already knew the original will enjoy a little more (It’s actually a sequel), but one that will also catch the new ones, those who set foot for the first time in the spectacular Shibuya of Square Enix.
Welcome (again) to Shibuya!
The argument is one of the central aspects of NEO TWEWY and as such is based on something known, on something that we already lived in the previous installment. I mean the Reapers Game. For some reason that we will have to discover, we have ended up in a parallel world in which to survive we will have to compete against other participants… for a week! Expect many surprises along the way and countless characters. In particular, the one we handle: I surrender, a high school student who is not the most sociable person in the world, although much more so than Neku, protagonist of the previous TWEWY. In this sense, I have noticed a more colorful and less pessimistic tone in the development of the plot.
But without a doubt, what matters here is how the game develops, and that structure in days explains everything. Each day has its predefined events and history, so that we are still in front of a very linear progression, though not unattractive. You will have to follow a lot of conversations, explore the enclaves that are marked on the map and fight the combats that are proposed to you. The special powers of the protagonists are also relevant. For example, Rindo may go back in time to modify future events, although always for the needs of the script. The same goes for Fret, helping certain characters remember things, and Nagi, who can get into the minds of people affected by noise. Outside of that, you are free. You can get lost in the streets and fight the noise whenever you feel like it.
For those of you who are new, noise It is something like the cause of bad thoughts in the people of Shibuya, and they take on the form of demonic beings that we must annihilate. Thanks to his psychic powers, our protagonist can access his dimension, scan them and start battles at any time. And that to me particularly is one of the things that I like the most about this game. There are no random battles, but you have some freedom to decide whether to explore or battle at a certain time.
I have told you more than once, and you will agree, how important it is for a JRPG to have a good combat system. Well good news, because NEO TWEWY has a very competent one. It is in real time, and it is based on the use of a different power by each protagonist (assigned to a specific button on the controller). The only thing to watch is the recharge time and, therefore, manage the forces of the characters so that we are continuously attacking. For this reason there is a percentage of rhythm that the objective is to always be at 100%. Maybe there are somewhat chaotic moments and the dodge button is not as well used as I would have liked, but it has not done anything heavy.
Of course, you will notice that the fighting takes a while to start. This is because at the beginning you only have a couple of characters, but sooner rather than later you will have a good cast of companions who, in addition, will fight in unison. There are also combos and psychopowers combined. But the determining factor are the pins, whose obtaining gives us a certain power, which could be flares of fire, explosive bombs or melee attacks, among many more. Each pin is associated with an element (electricity, wind, water …) that is useful to take into account to destroy enemies, exploiting their weaknesses. Until the hours have passed, you will not be aware of the potential of the combative system, which has another peculiarity that has been most stimulating to me.
I speak of the difficulty. In its standard mode, the normal one, everything will seem like a walk, but you always have the opportunity to increase it, for example lowering the level of your characters. This you can do, and it has strong implications on the rewards earned. For example, if you are level 20 and lower it to 15, apart from the fact that the fights will be more complicated, your prize multiplier will go up and you will be able to obtain a greater number of pins (and therefore more probability that you will obtain one of greater rarity). It is also possible to chain battles, making the noise follow you en masse through the streets of Tokyo.
Your stats depend on the dishes you put in for the body and the clothes you buyI’ve had fun with this dynamic, because it has greatly enhanced my sense of progression. And it is that more battles, more money, something that allows you to go to stores and establishments to improve your attributes. Yes, a distinctive feature is that your statistics depend on the dishes that you put for the body and the clothes that you buy in the fashion boutiques. And even that is well done. You will have to test which dishes each of the members of your group like, as well as dress them so that they improve their base statistics and gain certain skills.
Between conversation and conversation, as well as between battle and battle, I have wanted to explore the different streets of Shibuya to attend these activities. There is so much content that it does not surprise me that the developers have said that the duration could go to a hundred hours. Aside from the hundreds of pins that can be collected, there are plenty of textile garments to get, as well as food dishes to discover. Also game tunes, tutorial books and monsters to unlock in the noisepedia. As if that were not enough, we can obtain graffiti with which to make a particular mural from the pause menu.
Another element of relevance is the social network, where we will see the different characters that we discover in the adventure. It is, so to speak, the particular skill tree of NEO The World Ends With You, because as you may have noticed, nothing here is too conventional. As you earn friendship points, you will get interesting rewards, as useful as activating the life viewer of the enemies during the fights, or the difficult difficulty mode that I previously alluded to.
As you have seen, the combat and progression system are closely linked and complement each other perfectly. This is essential. It explains why it works well in the long run, and that is that it is a title that asks you to go easy, take a breath and do everything it proposes. Of course, the narrative also counts, and a lot! In particular, the dialogues are brilliantly written (and translated into Spanish), with linguistic twists of all kinds. The way they are presented is equally fabulous, since we not only have the typical manga snacks, but also conversations with mobile messages.
Voices in English or Japanese according to your tastes, and in general a very high level of artistic detail. It’s nice to see the game and enter each of its menus. Also the streets of Shibuya. While it is true that technically it is not the best, NEO TWEWY manages to be visually competent. The art applied by Tetsuya nomura and your team to characters and environments shine again. Partly because part of the original equipment has been recovered, and partly because the arrival of younger people who have left their mark here is noticeable. And that’s good for progress.
How to play with the combination of different visual perspectives has caught my attentionIn particular, I have been struck by how to play with the combination of different visual perspectives within the same scene. It seems as if a different lens has been applied to each part of the screen, sometimes with the impression that buildings are coming at you. I applaud this daring, which is accompanied by a simply spectacular soundtrack. It is an amalgam of intersecting genres, from rock to metal, through pop or hip-hop. For the more nostalgic, there are remixes of the 2007 original, so very well played by Square Enix.
I can hardly be more pleased with this release and how it has turned out. Rescuing the essence of a cult game like The World Ends With You is a difficult task, but they have been mastered. Maybe the game has a hard time starting, loading times between zones can slow down the feeling of rhythm, there are certain portions of the game that falter a bit and in terms of character development not all are on the same level. However, NEO The World Ends With You is an absolute recommendation if you miss the original game, and it may even be interesting if you arrive new and their proposal catches your attention.