The World Ends With You

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The World Ends With You review


Defenestrating all conventions

Cross-Stride Battles (cont.)

Fighting on both screens will most likely take some getting use to, but once you get into the Cross Stride’s ebb and flow you’ll be busting out absolutely crazy combos. Every time you pull off a finisher move, you will send a ‘light puck’ to your other partner, and as the rally continues the puck gets stronger. It’s a guarantee that no one will be ace with the system at first and some people will likely never understand it, but the game allows this, and lets you to customize auto-play options for your top-screen partner. The computer can always be in control if you wish, or take control after a set period of time, or never touch your partner if you get really good. Another possibility I found kind of fun is to have one person controlling each character; while it is shallower and less enjoyable than controlling both on your own it does let both players give greater scrutiny to their tasks, which comes in handy when executing a joint fusion attack.

The fusion attacks are an extra layer of complexity to the battle system, and for some might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Each top-screen character has their own unique method of collecting the stars that fuel fusions, from simple memory-matching to a card game that could nearly qualify as a full-fledged puzzle game. These minigames may prove too much to handle for a lot of players, but the super-flashy Fusion Attacks are more than enough incentive to try.

Play it your way

The World Ends With You greatly benefits from something a lot of games in the genre lack; a fantastic sense of pace. Instead of testing your patience with numerous lengthy introductions, the game is broken into chapters which take place over one Day of the Reaper’s Game. Each Day begins with a text informing you of the Day’s mission and a brief story section, then you’re off to explore the town, complete the mission and trigger a cinema which concludes the Day. It’s a formula that works and while there are some lengthy spots of dialogue it’s never too much to interfere with someone who just wants to play.

The World Ends With You comes filled to the brim with features which let you play the game exactly the way you want it. The most noticeable and appreciated option allows you to change the difficulty at any time, even on the Game Over screen. The game is by no means a pushover, especially if you can’t get the hang of the unique battle system, so the always available option to change the game to ‘Easy’ is a huge plus. Of course, you can’t just expect the game to allow you such an easy way out; while tuning the difficulty down means you won’t die as often, you won’t net as many experience points or pins as you would on other difficulties.

The character customization is absolutely unrivalled for a handheld RPG, and there’s a lot of hidden depth and quirks to watch out for. You can equip each of your characters with up to four articles of clothing to boost their stats, but your character must first be Brave enough to wear the outfit. You can’t just make Neku wear a dress even if it gives the most substantial stat boosts of everything in your inventory. Each piece of clothing has a particular Brand, and the more popular brands give you attack bonuses while the least popular cuts down your stats. Shibuya’s streets go through fads faster than you can blink and the clothes you wear can quickly become obsolete, but you can help change trends by fighting with the right pins. Another cool feature allows you to lower your characters level at any time (different from the difficulty slide) to get a bigger chance at earning pins. The level of depth nears that of most console RPGs and you’ll constantly find new ways to keep the experience fresh.

A Modern Classic

The World Ends With You is an unexpected example of a modern DS classic. Square Enix has gone above and beyond what anyone expected, choosing to eschew convention to create something entirely their own. It’s an absolutely gorgeous fusion of form and function, and if you have even the vaguest appreciation for the genre you’d do good to pick it up.


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