Review by Bearissoslow

Reviewed: 06/22/09

Not the best RPG I have ever played, but it's damn close.

The World Ends With You. I don't even know where to begin with this game, but maybe I should start simple. This is like absolutely nothing Square has ever made, and it's consequently one of the best things that Square has squirted out of its square shaped womb in years. Final Fantasy this is not, and this is likely the most unconventional yet well executed RPG I have ever played, maybe even the best. I'd rather not spend all of my review gushing over this game though, so away we go into TWEWY.

The game first starts off with the main character, Neku, waking up in the middle of modern day Shibuya. He has no memory of what happened to him or why he is there. At first this may sound like a recipe for disaster, but it's actually well set up. Neku's story is a very intricate and deep one full of plot twists and growth. Back to the story: he then soon finds out that he's playing a game, or more specifically, The Game (you just lost). The Game is run by reapers, who are the people out to erase (= kill) Neku, Game Masters (the leader of the game, also a reaper), and the Composer (might as well be God or something like that). The Game lasts for seven days, with the last mission being "beat the game master". There are players in the game who have to do daily missions like "go to a shopping mall here" or "delete all the enemies at this place", and vary in depth and style. I really was onboard with this idea of playing through the game's story and missions where you'd have to solve them on your own, but the game is disappointingly..... I guess reluctant to this idea. You'll almost never have to solve any of the story's missions on your own, and the game will essentially hold your hand throughout the entire processing. For example, there's a very easy mission that requires you to go to 104 block (a shopping mall, if you will), and the clue for it is "70 + 34". Now, assuming that you are someone who isn't single handedly lowering the national IQ, you should know that the answer to that problem is 104. No sooner than you are given this mission, however, you are told the answer by your partner in the game, as though the game doesn't expect you to figure this on your own. It's really a sad thing to see such a creative idea as this go to waste by removing the challenge. A good system could've been used for this, such as you can try to solve the missions on your own, but if you're feeling stuck or don't know what to do, you can ask your partner for hints or something of that nature (which works because you can actually talk to your partner for hints), and all the while you are timed. Overall, this aspect just feels like you're sending the characters wherever they will explicitly tell you to go, and there's not enough human interaction for it, outside of removing the walls that the reapers will set up.

Back to the main story though. Neku meets a girl named Shiki, who is the embodiment of everything short clothed. She and Neku team up in the game (not by choice) in order to survive and defeat the noise, which are the basic enemies or what have you. Neku, being the "angst grahhhhhh" character that he is, is antisocial, rude, etc. towards Shiki's attempts to understand Neku. Neku eventually learns that he has to trust his partner and team up with her if he is to survive the game. Overall, this game does a very nice with characterizations. All characters are very clearly defined and set up, every single character has his/her own distinct personality and there's often a progressive change in personality as you play the game. This isn't to say that they'll drastically change, but most of the main characters are dynamic in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed. There's no "hey imma talk 2 myself 4 teh exposizhun and charactur zayshun", and the story often throws curveballs at you. In my first playthrough, I was absolutely ruled by the story and hooked in beyond comprehension. I was eager as a seven year old playing a game of Yoshi's Story to progress onwards with the plot. The story is just so well written and executed, I can't even begin to tell any of you how much I love it.

On to the meat and dirt orbs of the game. If you've only heard one thing about this game, chances are that it's about the gameplay, which is eccentric and very unique. In battles, you're given enemies on both the top and bottom screen of the DS, and you have to control both Neku and his partner at the same time to beat the enemies. At first sight, this seems extremely intimidating, but TWEWY's learning curve allows you to either stick with a CPU controlled partner if you're just not good at it, or a manually controlled partner where you can rack up fusion points for a grand, combined attack. This game doesn't force either setting on you, and you can easily stick with one or the other for the entire game and still beat it without having to stress out. That's not to say at all that the game is easy, but the gameplay can be forgiving with the partner controls. So, you use the stylus to control Neku on the bottom screen and do assorted attacks with pins that you can equip. There are 300+ different pins to collect, and each one of them has their own individual stats. Some of the effects are as simple as "touch a point on the screen to fire a laser there" to as intricate as "hold down your stylus to collect up targets for a lightning attack, release to fire". There are a plethora of different pins to use, and you'll likely find some pins that you work best with and you'll be able to use those for a majority of the game. There's so much room for variation in this game in terms of pins, and this is a very well executed part of the game as well.

As for equipment and stats, Neku and friends can equip clothing and eat foods to raise their stats. This is a very modern adaptation of standard RPG elements, so you can think of food being materia/stat grinders, and clothing as armor. Food is translated into two descriptions: amount of bytes to process and (mostly) permanent boost given. Bytes measure as the amount of fights you must do in order to actually get the boost from the food, and you are only given 24 bytes per day, measured by the DS's clock. There's not too much grinding in this game unless you actively try to, which is a definite positive quality for this game. As for each piece of clothing, there is a bravery requirement, which is essentially just the requirement to wear the clothing. There's also the regular Attack, Defense, and HP stats. One notable mechanic is that each piece of clothing has its own boosts for those stats and its own ability. For instance, one ability is "Experience boost", while another one is "When your partner wears this, their defense increases by three points". There are a large number of clothing options as well as abilities, so a lot of customization for equipment is available along with pin equipment. Another unique mechanic that this game implements well is the art of buying clothing. It's as normal as buying things in other RPGs, but you can get a relationship with the clerk. The more you buy from a store, the friendlier you will be with the clerk, subsequently meaning he/she'll show you more abilities for clothing and show more clothing for sale. It's a very ingenius idea, because you'll often get to see the clerk's reaction and inner thoughts on what you do. If you enter their store without buying anything frequently, they'll often think things along the lines of "Buy something window shopper!" and "I knew this kid was too young to buy our clothes...". It's funny in itself, and I felt it was a charm worth mentioning.

Anyway, the battles in the gameplay often range from simplistic and easy to complicated and exciting. The boss battles are one of a kind in this game, and the difficulty of the game when on the hardest mode is something to be appreciated. I've never had a game be so rewarding to playthrough on the hardest mode, except maybe Phantasy Star Online, and even then this game is a close contender for that title. Beating the bosses on Ultimate mode isn't just a "mash A mash A mash A spam a spell yay I won', you actually have to lern2think and analyze what you should do to win. Plus, with grinding being so difficult to do in this game, it's hard to just raise your attack by thirty levels and rape a boss you're not beating. Another quality of the bosses that I loved was how they were portrayed. Most bosses are first shown as entirely antagonistic showing little to no compassion for Neku and friends. However, the game portrays them in this manner to give a single way view of them. After enough time, you'll see that the bosses are really just complex, 3 dimensional characters who are not necessarily evil in their own rights, but just opposite forces with slightly different motivations. This makes them almost empathetic and understandable, because most bosses actually have good reasons for being who they are and are shown sometimes as even remorseful. It's a nice touch to see that antagonists are not necessarily the square root of evil.

One thing that I think might put of a few gamers is the graphical style and design the game possesses. Sometimes the enemies will look like they're not complete and have a line finish at some parts. For instance, the noise that resembles wolves has lined out legs that have a blue effect to emphasize that they are noise enemies. I don't know why, but I've been hearing that this is off putting, which confuses me. This game's graphics are phenomenal. There's not much to be said for this; backgrounds and designs are so well done that there's no complaint on my part, only praise. This game shows off what the DS can do in terms of gaming graphics, and I was very impressed. And not to mention, the music is fan-fricking-tastic as well. There are about 34 tracks of music that you can get in game, and most of them are great. You'll have a few "wandering around Shibuya tracks" that really capture the time at which they are played ("Calling", "Three Minutes Clapping"), and there are fight songs, which contain a good amount of rhythm to them. There are many various ones, from angst rock to techno music, and it's a very enjoyable OST that a lot of people have downloaded or searched for on Youtube. If you don't like one song, you'll likely find four others that you love. All in all, great OST, and I recommend you listen to the full versions of the songs if you have the game, or even if you don't.

One last paragraph before my conclusion: there is so much to get in this game, it's a dream. First of all, getting 100% in every category for the game has probably taken me 100+ hours of gameplay, and I loved every single minute. There's an insane amount of replay value, even if you've already played through the game. I found it fun to do a new game at one point just so I could playthrough the game again with the playthrough restrictions (as in you're not given everything in a single playthrough). And once you beat the game, you can go to individual chapters and days to unlock secret items and the important Secret Reports. The SRs are written by an important main character, and they give an insight to what was happening elsewhere from Neku and friends at the time, explaining character motives, how certain plot points were set up, and they even give insight into the sometimes confusing (but still enjoyable) plot. And, a good portion of the time, they can just be a clust frick to your brain, saying "WHHHHHAAAAT? THAT CHARACTER DID THAT?!", meaning that even when the game ends there's still story to be unravelled. I'd partway recommend playing this game if only for its story!

This review has pretty much just been "gushgushgush and TWEWY executed this part well! kthx". I'm sorry at all if I came off fanboyish or phallic-riding for this game, it's just so hard not to. However, I do have to amend something. I called it possibly one of the best RPGs I have played, and I'd actually have to say that's wrong. It's not the best. The story is amazing and gameplay is unique yet sublime because it doesn't trample over itself, yet there are some minor problems that would prevent it from being the best RPG ever. However, I'd consider this game something you should really try out if you have a DS. It's not a "must buy" but it's a very good game that does things differently and efficiently at the same time, for the most part. Get it if you see it at your local gamestore, this will be fondly remembered by many as a classic.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: The World Ends with You (US, 04/22/08)

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