Neo: The World Ends With You put to the test - stylish but conventional

Neo: The World Ends With You put to the test - stylish but conventional


Imagine taking classic RPG features like monster battles, spells, side quests, armor and potions and transplanting all of that from a medieval fantasy world into Tokyo in the 21st century. Instead of brave warriors, you play a group of teenagers, instead of going to the tavern you stop in the bubble tea shop before the next battle and instead of epic orchestral music, there's metalcore and hip-hop on your ears. Garnish the whole thing with a parallel world story in visual novel style and lots of youth slang, and you have the recipe for success of Square Enix's excellent cult classic The World Ends With You.

Table of Contents

1 old game with new players 2 subcultures, slang and style 3 buffs for trendsetters 4 technique: Whack. Mixtape: Fire! Almost 14 years after its first appearance on the Nintendo DS, the stylish JRPG is now being honored by a successor that continues the story of the mysterious Reaper's Game and promotes the extroverted, unique art style of the game into the third dimension.


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Old game with new players

Occasionally the scavenger hunts and noise fights are loosened up with small puzzles and quiz questions. Source: PC Games Neo: The World Ends With You (buy now € 54.99) initially changes little in the structure of the story. Once again you will find yourself on the lively parallel world streets of the Tokyo district of Shibuya, where the mysterious Reaper organization holds its deadly scavenger hunt week after week. In the Reaper's Game, several teams fight for supremacy in daily changing missions. The team with the most points at the end of the week will have a wish granted, while the last ones will be wiped out. So far, so well known.

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Preview of Neo: The World Ends With You - A New Cult JRPG?

Neo: The World Ends With You - we have played the successor to the DS game and revealed whether the unique style of the Tokyo JRPG is still convincing var lstExcludedArticleTicker = '1376663,1373263'; What is new at Neo, however, are the players with whom you play the game: Instead of the silent Neku, you embody the teenager Rindo, who strolls unsuspectingly through Shibuya with his over-the-top buddy Fret when the two are suddenly sucked into the parallel dimension of the underground. Contact with the real world is lost, strange graffiti monsters plunge the city into chaos, and the game master prepares the "Sheeple of Shibuya" for a week full of excitement. And the story is exciting, despite certain lengths, in any case: In the course of the more than 50-hour story, you can expect nasty plot twists, lots of unique characters and the feeling of never knowing exactly which absurd scenarios the likeable characters will stumble into next could. Without spoiling too much, we can reveal: Despite the almost 14 years that have passed since The World Ends With You, Neo is a direct successor who takes up many old storylines and successfully spins them on. Knowledge of the first part recommended!

Boss fights in which you actually encounter a completely new type of enemy with their own mechanics are rather rare. Source: PC Games

Subcultures, Slang and Style

You can tell that a lot of effort went into the German version of the texts and not just bluntly translated. Source: PC Games What was just as convincing then as it is today is the striking style in which the JRPG is presented. Shibuya is a shrill, loud and stylish pop culture mecca. While you walk through the crowded streets of the district, you will meet pithy characters almost non-stop, who represent their sometimes extremely weird subcultures with loving character design and lots of slang and insider sayings.

Who in the setting and the fact The fact that Neo comes along with German texts, now expecting a cringefest brand Langenscheidt youth words, can breathe a sigh of relief: The dialogues are written with a lot of wit and charm and have survived the translation into German well, including adapted slang, Brudi! And that is doubly important, because in the first few hours of the game you can hardly do a single move without being chatted before and after. The fact that the game comes up with such a varied and charming group of characters saves the largely unvoiced freeze frame dialogues from becoming too boring in the long run. However, you shouldn't expect many complex cutscenes full of action, here Neo stays old-fashioned and close to the predecessor.

In scan mode you listen to the otherwise faceless passers-by and experience a fluctuation in their lives. But be careful, the red noise monsters will also take notice of you. Source: PC Games You can charge some pins in the background while you hit the opponent with another attack. Each type of attack is assigned to a specific controller button. Source: PC Games Between the countless dialogues, you follow instructions that the Reaper sends you via smartphone in order to complete the task of the respective day or chapter. You will gradually explore small areas of Shibuya that have been unlocked, you will be presented with puzzles again and again (the solution of which, however, is often discussed beforehand in dialogues) and you will fight other player teams as well as the graffiti monsters known as "Noise". In contrast to the DS predecessor, in which you had to use the touchscreen, microphone, buttons and two screens at the same time, Neo relies on a more conventional action-RPG combat system in view of the less versatile hardware it runs on.

Buffs for trendsetters

Each of the over 300 pins can be leveled up and sometimes developed into a new attack. Most of the attacks you lick from the noise monsters. The higher the level of difficulty, the better the drop chance! Source: PC Games As usual, you equip your characters with pins, i.e. badges that equip you with various attacks. Most of the time you are in teams of three or four and change characters by using their respective attacks. If you vary your attacks after each landed combo, you fill the groove bar, which gives you particularly powerful special abilities. The groove system ensures a fun flow in the otherwise rather unspectacular, but solidly playable fights. Opponents, arenas and skills are noticeably lacking in variety.

While there are over 300 Pins to be found, most of them can be squeezed into a handful of categories that will and will do most of the game the types of opponents repeat themselves quickly. Until the rarely occurring boss fights actually challenge you with creative mechanics instead of just with an exorbitant amount of life points, (too) many hours of play will pass. Here the predecessor was clearly ahead of the game, mainly because of its more innovative and versatile control options.

As in real life, you need a certain amount of coolness to be able to wear a shirt like this. Until you have the 123 style points, you have to eat a lot of hip food! Source: PC Games You can see how much a character tastes a certain food by looking at its picture. The heroes are differently picky. Except for your best friend Fret, because he bursts into tears of joy with almost every dish. Source: PC Games Outside of the battles you improve your attributes in proper style by shoveling and pouring permanent bonuses into ramen, burger or coffee shops, always limited by a saturation indicator, which you empty again by burning calories in battles. Certain snacks and drinks, such as the (mysteriously) revived bubble tea, will eventually improve your style level. The higher it is, the more extravagant and powerful the clothes that you can put on. Some clothes give you additional set or brand bonuses, equip certain characters with additional buffs, or strengthen pins of the same brand. The improvement systems are thus successfully interlinked and create a motivating feeling of progress, even if it is still a pity that the outfits are not visible on the characters.

Technology: Whack. Mixtape: Fire!

Find the main character: While the main characters and monsters look neat, passers-by and surroundings often seem very careless. Source: PC Games The biggest disturbing factor about Neo: The World Ends With You is, besides the somewhat generic combat system and the old-fashioned presentation of the dialogues, the rather cheap-looking 3D implementation. Shibuya is colorful and stylish as ever, but ugly, monochrome textures with a few - and then also pixelated - details, including flickering edges, are no longer really contemporary for a game that wants to look modern and fresh. Omnipresent invisible walls, tiny, static areas, (deliberately) angular passers-by and the fact that the game world is also a pure backdrop during the battles with no opportunities for interaction give Neo's technology the almost retro charm of a 3DS that has come much too late. Successor than the splendor of a modern JRPG.

The warring teams with whom you keep clashing could hardly be more different. While the variabeauties consist of fashion freaks, for example, the nerds of the Deep River Society only have maritime topics in mind. Oh, buoy. Source: PC Games Many of your party members bring special skills with them: Hero Rindo can turn back time, while Fret evokes memories in other characters. However, these skills may only be used at specified points in the story. Source: PC Games If you were to look for the place where all the love flowed that was apparently denied to the optical 3D implementation, you would undoubtedly find it with the soundtrack. Because it's a wild, loud and aggressive ride through everything that urban music has to offer. In the playlist of over 50 songs, there are reinterpretations of songs from the first part and atmospheric instrumental tracks as well as lots of new songs of all possible genres: rap, rock, pop, metalcore and electro, most of them with English and / or Japanese Lyrics set to music. So many songs, specially written for a game, which could just as easily come from established bands - that is a rarity and deserves special recognition!

So we can say: fans of the previous one should be open just because of the continued story their cost is coming, and the style, sound, and charm of The World Ends With You are still intact 14 years later. However, if you expect Neo to be a similarly innovative, modern and creative role-playing game as its predecessor, you will probably be left a little disappointed in view of the outdated technology and the more conventional game design.

Neo: The World Ends With You is available for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. A PC version (Epic Games Store) will follow in summer 2021.

My opinion

By Stefan Wilhelm


[email protected] Solid JRPG that saves itself from the average with style, story and music If the soundtrack weren't so crammed with varied nods of the head, the characters weren't so creatively designed and charmingly written, and the story wouldn't surprise again and again with twists and exciting scenes, I would have lost interest in Neo really quickly. Because under the stylish shell there is a quite conventional, stale and varied JRPG, which I have to forgive for a lot in order to be able to enjoy its successful aspects. I appreciate the first part, not only, but also, because of its innovative gameplay, the crazy combat system and the great 2D presentation, and Neo just misses a lot of it too much. Neo: The World Ends With You (PS4) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Neo: The World Ends With You (NSW) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pro & Contra Still a fresh setting with lots of big city flair Charming, witty written characters Exciting story that sensibly ties in with the predecessor Motivating progress system Large scope Perhaps the best and most elaborate soundtrack of the year! Exorbitantly many freeze frame dialogues interrupt the flow of the game too often, especially at the beginning too little variety in enemy types, attacks and areas Technically very old-fashioned, shallow, generic combat system that quickly becomes dull Too few dialogues set to music More pros & cons ... Conclusion Fans of The With Neo, World Ends With You found a successful story continuation with the usual brilliant soundtrack, while gameplay and presentation had to give up.

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