World End Economica Complete Review – The VN of Wall Street

    Title: World End Econimca Complete
    Developer: Spicy Tails
    Release Date: April 22, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Sekai Games
    Genre: Visual Novel

Whether you are into Japanese pop culture or not, Spice and Wolf is a literary classic where author Isuna Hasekura demonstrates a signature style of storytelling. Spice and Wolf would go on to spawn all forms of media, and so subsequent works by the author would be in the form of manga and video games rather than being light novels first. Still, even in the process of giving what the audience wanted, Hasekura is a writer first and foremost, and his style and prose shine through in all of his works.

World End Economica is a three-part visual novel series, which then underwent a major remaster and localization makeover thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. There’s meant to be an anime serialization at some stage, but for now, fans of Hasekura, Spice and Wolf, and visual novels, in general, can enjoy World End Economica Complete on Nintendo Switch. This is a massive release even by genre standards, and having all three parts in one place is enough to make this an economical value proposition for genre enthusiasts, and for those yet to step into the magical world of “reading as gaming”, this is a great place to get initiated.

As the title suggests, World End Economica is embedded with finance, economics, and plenty of Wall Street lingo. These seem to be common themes in the works of Isuna Haskekura, where even the narrative of Spice and Wolf was driven by schematics of the trade market. World End Economica takes place on the Moon, on which humans have managed to create an artificial society where money is the primary lifeforce and capitalism is the official religion in a way.

Although it uses a lot of sci-fi terms and devices in its lore building, the actual world itself feels very grounded. It uses the Moon backdrop as an abstraction of real-world capitalism, by explaining authentic concepts from finance and economics, and then applying them in a way that feels believable and grounded. Careful, you might actually learn basic economics by playing this visual novel and if you’re going to have a go at trading stocks, start with 20 bucks and ease into it (keep away from GameStop).

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World End Economica starts with our protagonist as a runaway youth, getting by on the mean streets of the Moon by trading shares and learning the ins and out of the Lunar financial market. He manages to make enough money to get by on a day-to-day basis, but eventually, he finds himself with a support system at a church where, slowly but surely, he starts to build synergy with an unlikely group of friends and allies.

The pacing of the storyline can be very slow, as the game spends a great deal of time organically building a rapport among the cast using a range of intimate scenarios. It can take a long time for the story to build up to its more thrilling moments where the pursuit of wealth leads to encounters with powerful figures and forces, but then the whole point is to immerse into the game world and get acquainted with the characters enough to genuinely care about them.

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The first part of World End Economica is a slow burn, but things start to pick up from the sequel, and then by the final act the cast is fleshed out and the game world feels vibrant and alive. The investment is worthwhile, as the game builds up its Lunar setting in great detail, and with the growing cast, each character gets enough time to shine and feel meaningful to the whole story progression.

Much like all the famous films set in Wall Street, there are plenty of powerful white-collar antagonists here, everyone from lowly debt collectors to powerful top 1% of the Lunar financial market. The narrative is definitely a commentary on capitalism, and while it doesn’t commit to any particular viewpoint, it does enough to get players to appreciate how wealth is created and pursued in the bigger scheme of things.

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When it comes to the cast, of interest to our protagonist is Hagana, who fits into the archetype of being mean and standoff-ish on the surface, and yet vulnerable and troubled underneath. She happens to be a math genius, and soon enough she lends her mathematical skills to help our hero embark on conquering the Lunar stock market.

Money is king on the Moon, more so than on Earth, but the way the characters relate with the idea of wealth is presented with a great deal of complexity. In the end, money is just a means for them to achieve a greater purpose and calling, and so what’s great about World End Economica is how the characters rarely ever feel like they are one-note. A great example is Lisa, who happens to fall into a religious archetype but not in a preachy way. It’s not often in Japanese media that you see a full-fledged Christian portrayed in such a grounded manner, and although she tends to drop a lot of Bible verses, she ends up being one of the more complex and endearing characters in the story.

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It’s clear that author and creator, Isuna Hasekura, is a writer first and foremost, and it shows. World End Economica features excellent writing, with the way places and moments are described in great detail, and how it punctuates world-building at opportune moments in-between expressions of character development. If anything, it would have been cool if World End Economica also existed as a light novel series as an alternative, and not to mention the localization effort is expertly done. The written expression, paragraphing, pacing, and even the use of punctuation is on-point throughout. The excellent writing more than makes up for the game’s simple visual presentation.

Although the character designs and backgrounds have been remastered for this complete collection, the artwork is never the strongest aspect of the presentation, but it does enough to create a believable setting and to help players relate with the characters. The music is largely atmospheric with simple techno beats and the occasional mellow orchestra, and it’s decent enough, but ultimately the writing shines through more than the visual and musical presentation.

World End Economica Complete 4

World End Economica Complete is a fine example of a genre staple when it comes to visual novels. This is a great release as a complete collection as each part complements the previous entry. While the pacing of the narrative can feel a bit slow at times, the expression and flow make the journey worth investing into. Further, the visuals and music don’t always shine as much as they should, but they still manage to create atmosphere and provide the cast of characters with vibrant personalities. Above all, how many other visual novels can claim to be a sci-fi economic thriller?

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!