Initial release date: July 27, 2021
Series: The World Ends with You
Composer: Takeharu Ishimoto
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action role-playing game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Epic Games Store
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
It’s been 14 years since the original TWEWY or The World Ends With You which released on the Nintendo DS to critical acclaim and developed a cult following. That original release was a game that people would tell you non-stop back in the day to play because of how innovative it was with it’s story and how it implemented touch controls. This went on to have a rerelease on smartphones followed by a Nintendo Switch updated remaster and even an anime. If you were a fan of TWEWY then all you needed to do was put two and two together and you’d know that there was a chance of a sequel or continuation of this series especially after Neku and other characters in the game appeared in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Here we are in 2021 with the newest entry in the franchise with NEO: The World Ends With You; is it a worthy successor to the original or a flash in the pan? Let’s find out!
Picking up after TWEWY; NEO kicks off with a new cast of characters in Rindo, Fret, and Nagi being pulled into The Game to fight against the emotion manifestations known as the Noise in an attempt to outscore other teams and not be erased from existence. So, what’s the catch? Well, if you’re in The Game then that means that you’re in a parallel version of Shibuya called the Underground of which is populated by the dead which means YOU are already dead, HOWEVER, if you earn enough points to win The Game and be able to wish yourself back into the RG or the real world.
Trippy ain’t it? Well let’s just say this ain’t the only twists of this wild journey.
If you played the original game, then you’ll remember the Pin system and how you can equip multiple of those; in NEO, you can only equip one Pin to each of your characters on your team with each Pin being assigned to a button allowing for charging up attacks or doing repeated attacks.
One of the things I enjoy about this combat system is how you’ll need to figure out what your preferred lineup of Pins are and how best to utilize them in battles. While you can press any of the buttons to unleash your attacks, you will need to wait for the attacks to cooldown which means you’ll need to figure out what your rhythm is for balancing strategy and attacks. There’s also the Groove system which builds as you activate “beatdrop” which are follow-up attacks to your Pin attacks. Get your Groove meter to 100% and you can do a special attack that does a ton of damage and can finish many fights quickly.
Your entire party will be sharing a health bar yet each character will have a unique stat based on the clothing you have equipped and also what foods you eat.
There’s the Social Network system which allows you to gain friendship points by helping characters by doing side quests and more. You can grow your social circle by going to new shops as you progress, meeting new characters, and just generally helping people. Your social network will spider web out and grow as you come to know more and more people.
The game looks gorgeous by taking the original game’s hand drawn art style and fully realizing them in 3D. Like in the original, cutscenes will play out in a comic book format and even has voice acting. When the situation calls for more exposition and story building; the game will have fully 3D cutscenes rendered in the game’s engine.
Shibuya is really bustling and comes to life with everything going on in the environment from dead souls walking around to the way the camera pans and sways about and even the designs of the buildings. Tower Records looks incredible and honestly makes me miss the one that used to be out here in Honolulu in Ala Moana Mall.
Because so much is often happening especially in battles, the framerate can dip drastically on the Nintendo Switch version which runs at a variable framerate and is 1080p docked and 720p with a variable framerate in handheld mode. The PS4 version runs at a locked 1080p 60fps and offers the smoothest gameplay experience.
Look, Takeharu Ishimoto came back to slap some FUNK on every track ini ths games roughly 30 new tracks and then remix 20 old ones to let it be known he’s a compositional genius.
The voice acting is also sold with performances being stellar with some stand outs in the voices of Rindo. The dialogue between the characters is incredibly compelling and the delivery of lines really hits home with making the characters come to life. Not really any bad voice acting to be had in this game.
Basically, long story short is; the voice acting is good, the OST is god tier.
The only real downside to this game is in how the battles can sometimes get frenetic and it feel like way too much is going on to the point where you cannot keep up. This is a subjective complaint; it’s not one I personally have but one many people do have.
Another negative could be since the game does expect you to have some serious knowledge of the original title and f you aren’t caught up on it, then you will be lost in a lot of the terminology being thrown around and the happenings.
NEO: The World Ends With You is an outstanding follow up to the cult classic original by taking a lot of the concepts of that game and reimagining it for the modern era. From an engaging story with numerous twists and turns, a very in-depth battle system, a funky fresh art-style, endearing and believable characters, and a world that’ll have you lost in it for hours; NEO The World Ends With You is simply an amazing game that’ll have you coming back for more.