Bottom line: The manga art style, edgy music, and interesting premise make this a fun game for any player. Help Rindo and his team escape the "Reapers' Game" and meet a colorful cast of characters in the process.
Gorgeous 2D art direction
Unique combat system
3D visuals aren't that great
Several unnecessary moments
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When I first booted up NEO: The World Ends with You for Nintendo Switch and started playing, I had no idea what I was in for. I had definitely heard of the original DS game that was popular back in 2007, but all I really knew about it was that the artwork was done by Shiro Amano, the writer and artist for the Kingdom Hearts manga. From what I've gathered, this new Switch game is very true to the original DS game while updating several mechanics.
But I'm not here to talk about how it compares to the original. I'm here to discuss whether Neo: The World Ends with You is a good game for anyone new to the series.
For anyone who doesn't know, the game centers around a teenager named Rindo Kanade. One day while out in the city, he and his friend realize that their phones have been taken over by some strange new software and they're taking part in the "Reapers' Game", which they didn't choose to join. They can't just quit either since their lives are on the line if they lose. The only way to make it end is to get the highest score of any team playing. To do that, Rindo needs to collect pins that give him and his teammates new fighting abilities, take down monsters, and solve Reaper puzzles.
The overall concept is rather compelling, the characters are all very colorful, and the battle system is unique. Not to mention, the edgy music combined with the unique art style give NEO: The World Ends with You a very cool feel. It's a story I think just about any player would enjoy.
NEO: The World Ends with You What you'll like
|Category||NEO: The World Ends with You|
|Titles||NEO: The World Ends with You|
|Release Date||July 27, 2021|
|Play Time||45-50+ hours|
|Format||Physical and Download|
The best thing about NEO: The World Ends with You is the production design, both musically and visually. Rindo runs around a 3D city, but the majority of interactions and cutscenes take the form of gorgeous comic-book-style animations that get layed over the 3D components. In that way, the game plays out a lot like a visual novel or manga, but then the battle system has Rindo and crew fighting in a 3D space.
The game is split up into days, with the Reapers giving out a specific mission each day. Missions might require you to have a turf war with the other teams, be the first to solve a puzzle in a specific area of the city, or defeat a certain number of enemies. To complete these tasks, Rindo and his team have Psych abilities that allow them to interact with people in the city in supernatural ways. Once objectives have been completed, the game moves on to the next day. The Reapers' Game scoring system resets at the start of each in-game week, so you'll be playing multiple weeks and attempting to come out on top as the story progresses.
Music and art style
There's a heavy emphasis on music with a good range of screamo, heavy rock, and even some rap thrown in. It gives the game an edgy feel and got me pumped during battles. I usually find "cool" teenage music in video games to be incredibly cringy, but this soundtrack definitely had me bobbing my head in appreciation. Of course, not every song was my cup of tea. So, I was happy to find that I can purchase more tracks in-game to suit my tastes and not just listen to the same five songs over and over.
I'm an old person now that I'm in my 30s, but the Kingdom Hearts-style characters with crazy hair, trenchcoats, and baggy clothing feel like they are a blast from the skater-punk 2000s past, designed more for people my age than the current youngins. This probably dates the look of the games overall but still felt incredibly nostalgic for me.
Plot and battle system
As I mentioned before, I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into when I started this game. However, the plot quickly pulled me in and compelled me to keep playing. I was surprised at just how many characters I ended up meeting during the course of the story. The new faces helped keep things fresh and introduced new dynamics between the main characters to keep things going.
This action RPG uses a unique fighting system. Each player can equip pins that give them special attacks or other abilities. Then, when you enter a battle, each character has different buttons assigned to them. You'll need to work the character's buttons in tandem to really hurt opponents efficiently. The pins assigned sometimes change which buttons controlled which characters, so I was constantly needing to adjust and find new strategies for controlling my team. Finding the right combination of pins and learning how best to use them together makes this game incredibly enjoyable and keeps everything varied.
NEO: The World Ends with You review What you won't like
While I appreciate the world-building and natural-feeling dialogue throughout the game, there was also a lot of filler. The game holds your hand too much. This is especially apparent during moments when you're asked to solve a puzzle. I was usually able to figure out what to do almost immediately, but I had to spam through long character discussions or investigate areas before the characters themselves figured out what was happening and allowed me to proceed with my initial plan.
As such, I started getting a bit annoyed with the game and wouldn't bother reading the superfluous dialogue. Fortunately, all of the important information shows up in red text and you can review what people said in the dialogue log if you think you missed something important.
Additionally, while the character designs and 2D visuals are absolutely beautiful to look at, the 3D world you'll run around in feels lifeless and strange. There isn't nearly as much attention to detail and I often found myself wishing the overworld had just been in the 2D manga style rather than made with 3D models.
NEO: The World Ends with You review Should you buy it?
If you were ever into Kingdom Hearts or the original The World Ends with You DS game, then you really ought to check this story out. It's also a great adventure for anyone who isn't familiar with either series. The overall premise is interesting, the story plays out in a good way, and the character art direction is absolutely stellar. Battles are unique compared with other RPGs, but they still require a good amount of skill mixed with strategy in order to do well.
However, If you don't like games with a lot of reading, this probably won't be for you. There are a lot of cutscenes that play out like a manga and you'll need to get through pages of character dialogue just to do something simple.
Bottom line: Rindo and his friend are pulled into the "Reapers Game" and are forced to play to survive. They must solve puzzles and defeat monsters in order to complete daily challenges. Along the way, they'll add more people to their team and figure out just who's behind this whole thing.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.
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