The series makes a return after a lengthy 14-year gap.
Nintendo DS classic from 2007 - The World Ends With You - has stayed in our memory because of its action and because of Tetsuya Nomura's character design with spiky hair and leather. It is a sight to behold even to this day. Silence has lasted over a decade, but now it's over. Noise monsters are once again appearing in Shibuya, Tokyo with a new batch of heroes. NEO: The World Ends With You is a new, and pretty independent chapter, in Square Enix's urban and cool apocalyptical saga, and it updates itself to the modern-era in a good way.
The new protagonist Rindo with his friends hears that in Tokyo there is an augmented reality competition, where those who buy a pin with super powers go and beat Pokémon-like monsters and perform different tasks around Shibuya. Competition gets all the more dangerous, as the sky gets more red. For Rindo and his friends, it becomes clear that the safety of the competitors is not a priority here.
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NEO: The World Ends With You is not so different from its predecessor in terms of story, but from a technical level there is a significant leap forward. Rindo and buddies do their adventure in three dimensions, and with a striking visual style. Cutscenes with 3D visuals bring the action to another level, but also the gameplay itself is effective. Designed for the older generation of devices, the PS4 version has cartoony characters and good angles. The action is followed from an isometric view, but not quite. And it's not fully from an upper angle either. It's somewhere inbetween. This creates a weird optical illusion, as if the skyscrapers are always falling on top of the characters.
In the NEO sequel, the combat is more in real time, and more hack' n slash. It reminds me a little of Kingdom Hearts, and a bit of Valkyria Profile. The player gives attack commands to four different heroes, and each of them attack by using one of the face buttons. Abilities differ depending on what special pin this character has in use. There are over 300 different pins, and they give both close quarters and long-range attacks to the characters. So, there is a good amount of variety here. Combat is pretty straight forward and fast, and sometimes it boils down to boring button mashes. With new characters and new pins comes more options, but the visual style and co-operation between the characters is not like in recent Scarlet Nexus. On the other hand, compared to the original The World Ends With You, the game feels restless and difficult to keep under control. It might take a while for the fans of the original game to learn how to fight in this new game.
The game progression is divided into days and chapters much like in Persona series, and the group chat screens between the characters look very much like what you might have seen in Persona 5. As you progress there will be a bunch of different characters, and there is more than one anime cliché included. Rindo is pretty typical young man without a specific purpose in life, who just happens to stumble into a big adventure.
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The story has exciting scenes, when the rules of Reaper's Game start to unfold to Rindo. At that point it reminds me of a Netflix series Alice In Borderland, where teenagers do different missions in a deserted Tokyo. There is still no voice acting, but at least the soundtrack is good. I had hoped that with beefier technology comes the opportunity for proper voice acting, but that is not the case.
Exploring the world of NEO: The World Ends With You is natural and surprisingly easy. Combat sections can be seen by pressing L1, and this shows reddish Noise among the crowds. With the same scanning function, you can see, which NPC has what to say. This is a great way to enjoy short extra stories. While running around Shibuya there is always a bunch of talking going on around the characters, but these bubbles don't interrupt the flow of the game. NEO: The World Ends With You doesn't force you to have a chat with everybody, and the game opens up in a relaxed manner. This is good, since the adventure takes around 50 hours to complete.
NEO: The World Ends With You is one of the best role playing adventures for this summer, alongside Cris Tales. If this sounds interesting, go to Tokyo with Rindo and friends.
8 / 10
Interesting and exciting story, audiovisual personality, there's a lot of stuff to do.