Neo: The World Ends With You is one of my most anticipated games of the year, and for good reason. The series began on the Nintendo DS in 2007 with, The World Ends With You, and I’ve been hooked on it ever since.
Now usually, I’d be a bit concerned about a sequel to cash in on a larger fanbase, but this has been teased since the mobile remake in 2012, and new content was further teased in the 2018 Switch release. And then Square Enix dropped a demo. What was I supposed to do? Not play it?
The demo for NEO: The World Ends With You contains the first two missions of the game. Our hero is a boy named Rindo, a very different protagonist to the original game’s Neku Sakuraba. He actually has friends, like Fret, a classmate he hangs out with a lot, and Swallow, someone he knows online because they both play the same games together.
Fret and Rindo were just hanging out, getting a bite to eat, when Swallow mentioned they were playing FanGO at the scramble crossing. They head down there to meet the guy, and suddenly there are monsters and people fighting with psychic powers. Apparently, at some point between going for food and heading down to the scramble crossing, the two of them died and ended up in the Reaper’s game. A game in which you fight and complete missions for a second chance at life.
These missions take the form of small in-universe puzzles. The demo has enough to showcase Fret’s “remind” ability, a very short minigame where you form an image in someone’s head, which is neat, but we can’t delve too much into that due to a lack of overall use. NEO: The World Ends With You looks visually stunning from the few areas we can traverse. The streets encapsulate that The World Ends With You style using the stylistic building designs, which further stand out thanks to the fixed camera angles.
The belle of the ball here is the taste of combat we’ve been offered. You may remember back at the end of last year when I did a piece where I over-analyzed the first trailer to figure out how the game played. After all, The World Ends With You has such an iconic battle system that I needed to try and figure out how they’d implement something that captured the feel of the original, heavily touch-screen-dependent system.
It turns out my analysis was pretty much on the money. You pick out pins for each party member, with each pin having an associated button press. In battle, you loosely control the entire team at once by using their psychs, with the player having manual control over whichever character was using the last skill.
If you fulfill certain conditions, such as knocking out a full combo string or striking at the right time, a “beatdrop gauge” will appear on a struck foe. Hitting them again with another character’s psych will boost your groove, which, when at 100%, will allow you to pull off a “mashup” fusion skill.
It’s a fast and furious system that I have had so much fun with. However, it took almost no effort from me to max out everything possible within the demo. I’m a little concerned about it possibly being too easy and turning into a button masher. Still, the demo didn’t let me change the difficulty from normal, so it may be more challenging on harder difficulties or as the game progresses.
Still, it’s an absolute blast. How the hell am I supposed to pass the whole month before the full game comes out? I’m way too excited.
NEO: The World Ends With You is coming to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on July 27, 2021, and PC-via The Epic Games Store in Summer 2021.
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