It has been over 14 years since the release of The World Ends With You (TWEWY), an action role-playing game for the Nintendo DS. Jupiter co-developed the game with Square Enix and fans eagerly awaited a sequel to the ambiguous and avant-garde origin game. NEO: The World Ends With You was released in July 2021 almost as a 14 year anniversary to fans except this time, releasing for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation. While the sequel does share the same title as the original there are a few noticeable differences; the most obvious being that the game is now fully 3D as opposed to the original DS version.
Some controversial changes that were introduced into this game may be the result of a different developer working with Square Enix to release the game. Since the previous developers were busy working on the much-anticipated Kingdom Hearts game, Hokkaido Artists’ Network and Development or h.a.n.d is the new developer that took the place of Jupiter. Alongside this new developer, NEO: The World Ends With You follows a different cast of characters that are participating in the same Reapers game as in TWEWY but with a few cameo appearances from the original cast.
NEO The World Ends With You PS4 Review – Pinning Strategies and Scanning Noise
Similar to The World Ends With You, the protagonist and his friends participate in a Reapers game that takes place over a set amount of days; initially the game is set to last only one week but is extended by a week as you progress through the story. Our protagonist is Rindo Kanade, along with his best friend Tosai Furesawa “Fret,” during their journey they encounter new team members like Nagi Usui and later on an old Reapers player Sho Minamimoto. Reaper players must battle the Noise—the personification of negative emotions—and attempt to prevent themselves from being erased by solving riddles within the allotted timeline. Since Rindo and Fret are new players, they are playing at a distinct disadvantage and are left with no choice but to participate so they can finally leave. The game is broadcasted for viewers to enjoy as each team competes to be the final one standing.
Each player has their own unique abilities to help them through the game, Rindo has “replay,” an ability to rewind time, Fret has “remind” to remind people of things they forgot, and lastly, Nagi has “dive,” the ability to go into people’s minds. During combat, players attack with their psych abilities which are granted to them by items called pins; there are over 300 pins available in the game which can be switched out depending on the battle. Outside of combat players can find Noise by scanning nearby people’s thoughts and reading them as they travel through the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan.
The special abilities of each player do add a bit more to do in the game, but the obstacle of learning how to use those abilities can be quite frustrating. For example, Fret’s remind ability, requires players to scan similar to how you locate noise in the area. However, there really is no explanation on when you should or should not use reminders and what to look out for. This means that you constantly have to stop in random locations, scan, and try to assemble the image Fret is attempting to recall from people’s memories. I have never been so frustrated with a mechanic of a game; not only are the controls unintuitive, but there is no clear tutorial on how to create the image correctly. Assembling the picture takes a lot of patience and finesse with the analog sticks.
NEO The World Ends With You PS4 Review – An Homage to Old Fans, Confusion For New Players
If you were not a player of the original game TWEWY, this game can be quite confusing to you. I was fortunate enough to have access to the original game, but even then it was a bit overwhelming to catch up with the storyline. The game focuses on a new cast of characters but original TWEWY characters appear as you progress through the story. If new players never played the original game that attention to detail goes over their head; it’s just another bizarre character encounter.
NEO: The World Ends With You has a target audience of fans of the original game, which leaves little room for new players to get to know the unique sequel. There were many instances where I felt lost on the plot and wondered how we got put into the Reapers game to begin. Add to that the bizarre cast of Reapers players, and you might think you fell into Alice In Wonderland while taking some psychedelic drugs.
The game feels like it is made for the Nintendo Switch, most of the details in the environment do not add atmosphere to the game. Personally, I think it would probably look better on the Switch as well, on the PS4 it seems like the surroundings are stretched out and I didn’t feel like I was on the crowded streets of Shibuya. In comparison to Persona 5’s environment, NEO: The World Ends With You has a lot of space to fill in regards to adding layers to Japan’s eclectic style.
Overall, NEO: The World Ends With You is a wonderful homage for fans of the series, in many ways it seems like a remake of The World Ends With You on a bigger screen and a fresh set of faces. However, if you were not a fan of the original game, NEO may come across as lacking in plot and game mechanics; perhaps it is worth a rewind to really appreciate the lore of this franchise.
Neo The World Ends With You review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.