There are many visual novels that share similar themes and still find success. This can be found in character tropes or stories that borrow pieces of a premise. However, I have never played a title quite like the Red Entertainment developed visual novel Our World is Ended which clearly takes much of its premise from Steins;Gate.
While Our World Is Ended isn’t shy about sharing themes and characteristics with a largely popular series it doesn’t quite make the same impact. With that said, playing Our World Is Ended and keeping Steins;Gate out of your mind proves to be the most beneficial to fully enjoy what unique offerings that the game does provide in terms of character development and story.
Our World Is Ended opens up with Reiji Gozen as he is out testing a new AR headset and game known as the W.O.R.L.D. program in public for the game development team known as Judgement 7 along with one of the team’s members, Yuuno Hayase. During the tests, Reiji discovers the power of the hardware as Yuuno’s clothes change into a bathing suit, but just as the fun was getting started, he is transported to a city portrayed in rubble and his friend’s lifeless bodies can be seen in the remains. After snapping out of the trance, Reiji appears back next to Yuuno and figures it was just a fluke with the technology.
Upon returning to the studio, players meet the rest of the members of Judgement 7 who largely resemble otaku gamers and your every day egotistical losers. The most important character introduced, however, is Sekai Owari who in my opinion should have been the main protagonist of the game, but instead, we are stuck seeing the world through Reiji’s eyes, which offers its share of benefits later on in the story. You see, Sekai is the mastermind developer of Judgement 7 and even invented the AR technology the Reiji was using and after the team discovered an online forum talking down about their games, the team decided to have a meeting about what they could do to win back the love of the people and create a game that everyone will enjoy.
This is when the team comes up with the idea to use the AR headsets and make a game using the hardware. However, after each member puts on their gear, the same fluke that showed Reiji a glimpse of a possible future, transported the team to an alternate virtual reality that is fused with characters from their previously developed games. It just so happens that this reality is being closely monitored by another group as well as inhabits a girl who lost her memory. Each of these pieces holds a key to making sure that the future that Reiji saw at the beginning of the game doesn’t become reality.
Throughout the game, players will encounter options during dialog to choose from that will gain affinity with the game’s heroines. Each girl is unique enough to find one that any player will like, but choices end up not really affecting the game’s main route, only the prologue chapters of the story. I actually liked this approach since multiple route games can be overwhelming to force the player to carefully chose their responses during dialog in order to get to the true ending. The main take away from this is that the choices in this game affect Reiji’s relationship with the character he’s interacting with and not the story as a whole.
As the main protagonist, Reiji is an interesting choice to lead this story. Being that he is the newest member of Judgement 7, the team doesn’t really respect his input on things and are pretty mean to him overall. However, as the story goes on, he does have some redeeming moments that show his worth in the crew. From that newly gained respect, the girls are drawn to him. However, he’s not really that special, but he’s also not an overweight otaku like Iruka or a perverted mess like Sekai, so by default he is the most charming member of this group.
Character audio is quite good and given that these characters are extremely expressive, especially Iruka, it was easy to feel immersed in their conversations. Similarly, there are some truly hysterical moments in the game that was fueled by the game’s voice actors. The script is kept pretty light-hearted throughout the entire story, but there are moments of serious tension that is broken up by a joke or unintelligent comment. The conversations between the characters are kept playful for most of the story, but once the seriousness of the situation that the characters are in picks up the tone does shift to make these moments more impactful.
While the characters are enjoyable, Our World Is Ended takes a while to find its footing. The game takes a few detours as it tries to establish the game’s antagonist and premise while giving the player enough time to care about the characters. This ends up making the game’s final chapters feel a little messy as elements seem to be introduced just to make things make a little more sense, but I felt that the premise didn’t really need this much reasoning. Still, it’s there for players who need a hard conclusion and clear explanation.
Regardless of this, I ended up enjoying most of the story as a whole and loved the character’s over-the-top personalities. There were more than a few times that the personalities of the characters made an otherwise boring event more enjoyable, which benefited this game in the long run. It also helps that the character illustrations and CG scenes are beautiful and I would play through this game just to see all the CGs alone.
Our World Is Ended comes at a good time in the west for anyone interested in picking up a well-told visual novel that doesn’t have an entire series of games attached to it. While hardcore fans of the genre might find it difficult to not compare to other popular titles, I still found a liking for these characters and the game’s premise. It’s light-hearted and fun and fills a large need for games like this in the west.
The most compelling parts found in Our World Is Ended are within the characters themselves and while they are often over exaggerated, it still works and makes many moments of the story enjoyable. Going down the rabbit hole of this mystery was interesting and even though the conclusion can fill a little drawn out, I could easily recommend this game to anyone looking for a silly and over-the-top visual novel adventure.
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