Tetsuya Nomura has never hidden the desire he had to make a sequel to The World Ends With You , an idea that had been around in his head for more than 10 years, but it seemed that it would never come true. After all, the original Nintendo DS title didn’t sell much, and the chances of Square Enix giving the project the green light were slim. However, the creative never gave up and tried to popularize the adventures of Neku and company by introducing his characters to the Kingdom Hearts universe.and relaunching the game on mobile devices and Nintendo Switch, versions that also added new content with important clues of what was to come. Luckily, at the end of 2020 it was finally announced that this cult JRPG would have its continuation with NEO: The World Ends With You , a work that we have already been able to play from beginning to end and that has made it very clear to us that all these years waiting have been very worthwhile .
The long-awaited return to Shibuya
In this way, we will once again enter a very special real-time role-playing adventure and quite different from what has been usual in the genre . So much so that here there are no dungeons or a great world to explore and explore, as everything takes place on the streets of Shibuya, one of the most iconic and important places in Tokyo, Japan. Its plot premise does not vary much from what we saw in its first installment: some young people end up caught in a deadly game that they have to survive by carrying out tests of all kinds for a week. Whoever wins can make whatever wish they want, but the losers will be suppressed and will disappear forever.
Is it necessary to have played the first game?
The history of this sequel is written so that new players can perfectly understand everything that happens, although we believe that those who played the first game will enjoy infinite times more, since the title does not stop introducing characters from that adventure and the plot ends to close the story that began on Nintendo DS.
This time we have a new protagonist, Rindo Kanade, who must seek allies to overcome the challenges that arise every day, giving rise to a story that begins slowly, but has ended up falling in love . The narrative load of the game is enormously high and you are going to spend hours and hours reading long conversations every few steps, but everything is so well written and the characters give off so much charisma that they never tire or hinder. It is one of those titles that gets you completely involved with everything they tell you and with its protagonists so that you always want to know more, rewarding your progress with a plot that continues to grow until it explodes in a simply superb final stretch.
Obviously, you can expect a multitude of twists and turns and surprises, although the script always manages to be consistent with its own rules and not leave loose ends , something that is very welcome and that gives a really satisfactory sense of closure at the moment of watching. the credit titles. In addition, the message that the story hides is very powerful, reminding us of something that may seem obvious, but that sometimes tends to be forgotten.
Shibuya is as much a protagonist as the characters themselves.
Here we also do not want to forget to point out the importance that Shibuya itself has in every inch of the adventure. The city is not just a simple stage that serves as a backdrop, but it is one more protagonist , enveloping us with its particular urban environment, its culture and the peculiarities of each of its streets to infect us with its spirit. If this saga is so special, it is precisely because of the way it captures and transfers the essence of this city to a video game, and we assure you that this installment is not far behind.
The Reapers game
If we have dedicated so many lines to the narrative, it is because it is the most important aspect of the game. The story is always present and it is the one that guides each and every one of our steps , although this does not mean that it is not a fun title when it comes to taking command. In general, what we will do during almost the entire adventure is to go to the points on the map that they indicate us to fulfill different missions, such as eliminating Noises (the monsters that populate the city) or solving a puzzle.
Of course, we will not be short of shops to buy clothes (equipment) or restaurants to eat in to increase our statistics permanently.
Exploration as such is extremely limited and they will hardly ever let us go off the beaten path, limiting the areas we can go to each day to force ourselves to follow the plot, although the development team has introduced various mechanics to help bring some variety and that passing tests is a pleasant and entertaining experience, such as being able to travel in time to change certain facts or “collect” words that we can later use to leave imprints on certain characters so that they act as we want. Of course, these powers can only be used when the script dictates it, so their uses and possibilities are very limited.
Fighting the noise
Regarding the combats, comment that these take place in real time and that they are based on the use of pins, the objects that define the powers that each of the characters in our group can use. Each pin is assigned to a specific button on the controller, so that when we press it in combat, the hero that has it equipped will do its corresponding action until we use up its uses, at which point we will have to wait a few seconds for them to recharge.
The pins and their powers are the basis of combat.
The interesting thing about all this is that there are lots of different pins, each with very different uses and applications . Some will ask us to hit the button to perform combos, others to load them to launch a devastating attack and there are even those that have support functions, to mention a few examples. Each member of the group can only have a single assigned pin, so the battles increase in complexity and possibilities as we advance and recruit more characters, a figure that can reach a maximum of up to six.
Here we are not going to lie to you: the confrontations during the first hours leave much to be desired. We will be so limited that everything ends up being summarized in a chaotic crushing of buttons without any order or concert, although little by little and progressively everything is improving : new mechanics are added, the pins we obtain have more fun and interesting powers, the difficulty increases, Noises appear with more complex patterns and very specific weaknesses and the bosses propose very unique and different battles in which we will have to do much more than just attack like crazy.
We think that battles take longer than they should to take shape, but once we finished clicking, we started to enjoy them a lot , including some clashes down the stretch that are quite a spectacle. In addition, we can chain battles against normal enemies to increase our chances of obtaining loot and we can lower or raise the difficulty at any time so that the rewards and experience points we obtain are better, something that we can also enhance by reducing our level. Thanks to this, we have a risk and reward system that works really well and that allows us to adjust the challenge to our tastes and needs.
For argumentative reasons we will not only fight against the Noises, but also against other players.
They never become particularly complex or deep battles, but they do know how to have fun , something that is also to blame for their addictive progression system by inviting us to try new combinations of pins, to look for the best synergies and to find the best way. to take advantage of them.
The social network
Another of his great successes is in the social network, a kind of skill tree in which we can unlock all kinds of things , from new mechanics that affect combat and exploration to passive improvements, difficulty levels, objects or new food dishes in restaurants. The striking thing is that to gain access to many of these advantages we will have to meet some requirements, such as helping someone in distress with brief side missions or becoming regular customers of a store. As you can imagine, this gives us a very sweet incentive in order to make secondary content, since we are not talking about acquiring an increase in life or attack, but about unlocking very useful things and whose effects enrich the gameplay.
Thanks to the social network we can also learn new details about the characters.
In general, it is a game with a very well measured and quite satisfactory progression system that does not stop introducing new features throughout the adventure, either through the social network, the enemies we meet, whatever we get through the main story, the pins that we acquire and other surprises that we are not going to reveal to you. All this helps to keep things fresh during the 30 hours that we will need to reach the credits, a more than respectable figure that can be considerably expanded if we propose to complete it 100%.
A dazzling visual style, a technical section too discreet
Finally we come to what is probably the most irregular section of the title: its graphics. On the one hand we have a simple and simply spectacular art direction and with a very marked personality in which its character and creature design stand out, the good taste with which the dialogues are presented through static images, a very careful interface and the great use what makes the color. There is no doubt that it is an adventure that exudes charisma, good vibes and a lot of style, so what is the problem? Its technical section.
The visual and artistic style that the game exudes is fantastic even when it comes to presenting conversations with still images.
It is too noticeable that we are facing a game that has had a fairly tight budget and neither the animations, nor the effects, nor the modeling, nor the scenarios end up being at the level, something that we can also extend to its constant (although brief) screens load every time we change streets, which ends up leaving us with an extremely fragmented Shibuya. In the end, the artistic is imposed on the technical and the few resources they have had are very well used to make up their shortcomings, leaving us with a satisfactory visual experience, but from which we expected something more.
Finally, we cannot put a single fault to the sound . The soundtrack is a real pass and is full of very catchy and powerful vocal themes that set our wanderings through the city wonderfully. And a lot of attention to the great remixes that have been made of some of the most popular songs from the first installment. The effects are varied and of quality, and the dubbing comes to us with both English and Japanese voices, both options with good interpretations. The good news is that the texts come to us perfectly translated into Spanish with a location that, despite certain word games that have not convinced us, has captured wonderfully the type of language that the characters use, something that is very well reflected even in the messages that the characters send with the mobile, where they forget to use most of the accents and look for a way to shorten the sentences as much as they can.
NEO: The World Ends With You has turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises we have had this year. We are not going to deny that the first contact we had with it a few weeks ago left us somewhat cold, but its final version has shown us that it is a very worthy sequel to the cult Nintendo DS game. It has a lot of content, the story is very good, it is impossible not to become fond of its characters, the fighting in its simplicity is fun, the progress system is very satisfactory and it knows how to reward the player, its art direction is amazing and its band sonora is a gift to our ears. It is perfect? No, but it has been impossible for us to let go of the command until it reaches its magnificent end, something that few titles achieve, so do not hesitate to give it a chance if you liked its predecessor or what it proposes catches your attention. You will hardly regret it.