The World Ends With You was a game I owned for many years before completing. Once I did knock it out though, it felt pretty good. The game had a very fun dynamic and an excellent plot. Throw in a sizzling soundtrack and you were good to go. Neo is definitely a great follow up. While I would give the original one the slight nudge over it, you can really expect a complete experience out of this game. It will will leave you in a pretty happy place.
The game starts with Rindo and his friend Fret hanging out around Shibuya as always. Rindo is also texting with his FanGo friend and it turns out that the person is somewhere in Shubuya too. They’ve never met in person so Fret declares that they should find this mysterious “Swallow”. Unfortunately this doesn’t work but they do get roped into a cool new app game. It involves doing a lot of little quests and fighting monsters. There’s no big prize at the end which is disappointing but the two friends split up to hang out another day.
Trouble is, they wake up the next day in the middle of Shibuya once again. Rindo doesn’t remember coming back here so the whole thing is odd. Well, turns out that he and Fret are stuck in the game now. It’s a survival game too which makes things even worse. The heroes can’t interact with ordinary people anymore and have to clear the quests with a certain level of urgency. After all, the lowest ranked team after the 7 days are up will be eliminated. Can Rindo and Fret stay alive or are they doomed? One thing’s for sure, with other teams having well over a dozen members, they are going to need some backup.
The only survival item the heroes have is a pin which allows them to fight back against the monsters as well as other players. Each pin has a different power ranging from elemental attacks to TK type abilities. Some players are nice enough to chat with you while others will try to murder you on sight so these are all things to keep in mind when trying to survive. At the very least they will certainly know Shibuya like the back of their hands once this is all over.
As a 30+ hour RPG there is a whole lot more to the story beyond the premise. Still, part of the fun is finding out what is going on and turning the tables. You will get to see a lot of characters return from the first game as well so those moments are always hype. They always show up with an excellent opening scene that is definitely worth the wait. It’s something I’m glad about because nothing’s more satisfying than seeing the characters you played as a few years ago return as complete legends and powerhouses.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s a little unique so it’s tougher to describe than most. It’s a 3D environment where you press a button to use your Pin. Each character can have a pin equipped and you have to choose pins which are locked to different control inputs. So you can have one on the R1 button, 1 on the L1 button, etc. Later on you unlock an upgrade so you can have more than one per button which is pretty handy but that won’t happen for a while.
Each pin’s ability is quite different. For some you have to hold the button down, others require rapid tapping, and others have you hold it down for a little bit and then release. It’s important you get used to how each Pin works but fortunately the menus are quite elaborate so that shouldn’t be a problem. The game also has a lot of good customization options available which you can use if things get dicey. You can also lower your own level to get more pins per victory. It makes each fight higher risk but higher reward which is a cool feature.
The battles can get tough at times so don’t be afraid to exit and train against minions. I had to do that several times but it’s over before you know it. It’ll help you get closer to trophies as well since there are some for beating thousands of enemies and things like that. Meanwhile you will also want to time your pins well to land combos. Landing combos increases your sync levels. When you hit 300 (Available after a certain point in the story) you can use a terrific final smash which also completely refills your health. I highly recommend saving this to use against the final boss. It really came in clutch for me at one point. I was nearly about to get a game over when the full health kicked in.
As you’d expect the graphics are definitely top tier here. The cutscenes are portrayed like a comic book with the characters going in and off panel all the time. Occasionally you will get full on cinematics as well but most are in the comic format. From those, you have the intro and end cutscenes to each chapters that have full voice acting and then the regular text ones. A lot of budget was put into this game for sure. Not sure if the voice actors for the original characters were the same as some of them sounded pretty different to me but it’s been a while since I played the first game. Also they are older so I suppose you’d expect the voices to change a bit.
The soundtrack is also a lot of fun. You’ll be hearing the tunes a whole lot so of course you’re hoping that the songs are on point. They definitely don’t disappoint. It’s also really nostalgic whenever a song appears from the original game. Now that’s a blast. The game is everything you could want and more from a technical perspective as well as the gameplay.
Aside from the main campaign being quite long, there is also a lot of replay value here. First off you have a bonus day set in an alternate universe that should make for a good bit of fun. Then you’ve also got the trophies to go after like completing a bunch of side missions and maxing out your social network. Obtaining the Platinum doesn’t look super difficult but it is absolutely time consuming so you can expect to be there for a long while. The game easily earns back the $60 value and then some.
As for the characters, we’ve got a pretty solid cast here. The main character is named Rindo and he’s not a big people person. Not to the extent of Neku who really didn’t get along with anyone but Rindo isn’t exactly the kind of guy who will seek anyone out. He does his own thing that’s for sure. As the game goes on he learns more about being independent and making his own decisions while still being a good people person. It’s a solid character arc.
Then you have Fret who is pretty much the opposite. He’s great at talking to anyone and just gets along with people. At the same time, he takes everything pretty lightly and you have a hard time seeing what he is really thinking. That’s what he has to contend with as the game goes on. He’s a fun enough character, I prefer Rindo but they’re both solid.
Nagi is the first member to join the group and is the main heroine here. From the 3 she is definitely the weakest character though. For most of the game she is pretty mean to Fret for no real reason. They definitely didn’t get off on the right foot but he always tries to be nice and she constantly reminds him that she isn’t talking to him. Even when she has a direct response she plays it off like they aren’t talking. Gradually she learns to get along with him a bit better but it takes a while.
Then you have the best character in the game: Minamimoto. This guy’s great, every line he has is some kind of number pun. He talks about everything as if they were fractions and number crunching. While the characters never know what is going on, it’s easy enough to follow what he’s saying. His goals are rather mysterious so you really never know what he is thinking. The scene where he confronts Susukichi is amazing though and one of the best scenes in the game.
Then you have the Ruinbringers who are a decent team. Susukichi is the member you have to deal with the most. He’s a true powerhouse and can deal a lot of damage. He also likes being a troll as he leads you on a bunch of wild goose chases. He’s definitely not bad. Then there’s Tsugumi who is very silent but immensely powerful. Her toy cat makes for a difficult adversary to fight as well. Her opening battle is impressive as she seemingly murders one of the original cast.
Then you have the other groups stuck in the game. Fuya is the leader of Team 1 but there’s not a lot to say about him. He seemed okay I guess but didn’t get to do much. Kanon is the leader of Team 2 and gets a much bigger role. She’s a nice character who is pretty helpful even while trying to achieve victory. Definitely not someone to underestimate as a fighter. At most her weakness may be that she tries to tackle everything by herself but it’s not a trait I would ever blame any character for. At the end of the day sometimes that’s the best way to help your team out so I can support that.
Then there’s Motoi, the leader of Team 3. I definitely didn’t like that guy at all. He’s pretty annoying the whole time. After a certain point there was just no way he was ever going to go up. The opportunity for him to do the right thing had come and gone. For the main villain there is Shiba. He definitely loves his announcements. Shiba makes for a good villain. While his overall motivations may not be the best as even by the end they seem shallow, he does get the job done. He also has enough power to back up his ambitions.
Kubo is a wild card but I couldn’t take him as seriously as some of the other villains. While everyone seems to have their own motives and agendas, he seems like the only one who really enjoys messing wit everyone else. So as a villain he may be the most devoted to the role. Then there’s Shoka who is another one of the Shinjuku reapers and she gets a really big role. I was actually surprised at just how extensive it was. You can expect to see quite a lot of her as the game goes on, that’s for sure.
Shoka is a fun character, I would say she is easily the best reaper. She clearly has more morals than the rest and is always around to give a good pep talk. She throws a lot of insults around as well to be sure but does so in more of a playful way. She doesn’t seem to detest the players the way some do. Also I give her credit for actually acting while many of the reapers stay in the sidelines.
For example, I would say Uzuki and Koki look pretty bad here. They talk tough of course but for the most part they just watch what is going on. By the time they start to act they are quickly defeated and don’t stand a chance. You’d expect the big bad Shibuya reapers to be more impressive but they never actually do much of anything. At least Coco actually made some pretty loud moves on the board. She may not have acted much directly but she still contributed.
All right, the next two paragraphs are spoiler territory so skip these sections if you haven’t played the game yet. It’s time to talk about the old characters.
Neku is naturally a pretty big deal. I think everyone expected he would appear at some point in the game but I don’t want to spoil his big moment. It is a great way to jump in though and he shows why he has earned the title of living legend. The guy one shots an opponent that the main cast absolutely couldn’t deal with. It’s very impressive and very cool. I liked his portrayal throughout. You can tell that he is a veteran.
Then you have Beet who helps out a lot during the game. His skills may not be as high as Neku’s but they are still considerable. He has a lot of confidence and really gets a lot of work done throughout. I can definitely appreciate his commitment. The rest of the characters get less of a combat role but you’ll still see Shiki and Rhythm at different points in the game. Even Joshua appears briefly.
All right, spoilers are over now. So does the game have any weak points? Well, I do think the gameplay can at times feel a bit like pure button mashing. There’s so much going on in the screen when you’re firing a bunch of pins at once. You can use strategy but most of the time you may as well just spam the attacks and it’ll have the same effect. So that can be a bit repetitive and same with the time traveling. There’s one point where you basically play through the same cutscene like 5-6 times. I love time travel as a concept but I do think it could have been used a little less or maybe there was a way to make each visit a little more different.
The story itself is definitely very compelling and epic. Each week continues to increase the stakes and scope of the plot. If you’ve played the original game then you’ll really be able to enjoy a lot of the references and guest stars. If you played the Switch version with the extra epilogue during the 3 year jump then you’ll be able to get even more out of it. This game doesn’t hold back on trying to get every kind of reference thrown in as well. It’s cool how the games are all so connected as this one even gives closure to the first game.
That said, if you cut beneath all of the deep dialogue and characters wondering what is going on…you do feel like the Reapers could have done a lot more. There’s no way the villains should have even been able to get into the position that they did. It’s just hard to buy that they could suddenly change things so drastically and nobody stepped in. Shibuya has a Conductor after all and many top tier Reapers. Why did they all cower in fear or just vanish? I am definitely going to need some more details before I can really buy into this. So at the moment I am pretty skeptical. Maybe they’re just like the Gold Saints of Athena in that they love making the situation as bad as possible I suppose.
Overall, Neo: The World Ends With You is a great game. It’s a real page turner from start to finish. The characters are on point, the gameplay is solid, and you’ve got great graphics at the ready. You’ve got every reason and more to just keep on going with the game all the way through to the end. There are quite a few plotlines that are still open and story ideas to be explored so I’d like to see another sequel at some point down the road. There’s just too many cool items to leave on the shelf.