- Developer: Square Enix, h.a.n.d.
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Release date: 27th July 2021
- Genre: JRPG
- Platforms: PS4, Switch, Windows PC
As far as demos go, this is an excellent one to download as there is at least two hours worth of free content to get stuck into; more if you want to hang around and rank up as high as you can go before the end. However, demos at times can be a poisoned chalice. On the one hand, they can entice gamers to purchase the full game at the release date, or they can put them off entirely. Depending on your persuasion, this one will certainly split opinion.
The high-quality production values jump out at you from the moment you begin this journey. The striking art style, full of bright colours and crisp detailed characters is extremely pleasant on the eye. Navigating around the Shibuya district also felt silky smooth and it is interesting to look at, despite not being highly detailed.
One of the first issues arose when trying to navigate the world. I needed to get from one district to the next but the fixed camera was extremely weird. Depending on your orientation, to travel to a waypoint on the map below, you actually had to move the stick right to go in the correct direction. Depending on the camera angle, it may then change to pressing down on the control stick to go left, but in other districts, a left push did actually move the player left. Very strange design choice here!
Combat was a highlight of the playthrough with its real-time and visually exciting hack and slash battles. These require the team you play as in the “Reapers Game” to time their attacks from various button mapping pins you acquire, whilst attempting to achieve a constant barrage of hits upon the enemy. If successful, this then unlocks a powerful finisher move. It’s a different and unique system that works very well when you get into the flow and requires some thought to use correctly.
Defeating enemies has them dropping new pins (badges to us Europeans) that unlock new attack moves. Battles can be over within seconds, and you are encouraged to get them over with as soon as possible to achieve a higher ranking and therefore better loot. One of the quickest encounters I had lasted only 19 seconds for an A ranking!
For as quick as the combat sessions are, the dialogue is exhausting. Consider that in my two-hour playthrough I entered around 20 battles, with the majority lasting somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds, with the longest being the end of level boss fight that lasted 5 minutes. That equates to, at best, 20 minutes of combat in 2 hours of gaming. The rest of the time was spent traversing the small areas and reading an awful lot of text and character dialogue. As someone who enjoys visual novel games, this isn’t an issue for me, especially at the start of a game where they need to set the narrative and build the world.
Lastly, the audio appears to be lacking in some areas. The voice acting and music is very much on point, but the effects during battle, especially with big hits or movements, were almost non-existent. I genuinely thought the game had a bug as it was so devoid of effects from both my characters and the enemies during intense battle sequences.
It’s wrong to be too hard on a bite-sized piece of a game, as I’ve learnt not to judge a book by its cover. In my experience, many JRPGs don’t really open up into what they have to offer until you are tens of hours into the game. Some definite strong points are being teased here, though, with the fantastic stylized art, great combat mechanics and simple but nuanced levelling system.
Neo: The World Ends With You releases worldwide on the 27th July 2021 for PS4, Switch and Windows PC.
Edited: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views and opinions of the rest of the Total Gaming Addicts team. We are well aware that the original TWEWY was set in Shibuya, alongside many other games set in and around Tokyo. We believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, in this case, we acknowledge the views of the author were wrong, and have edited the article as, like most of you pointed out, Neo: TWEWY is obviously not a Persona clone or vice versa.