The original The World Ends With You back on the Nintendo DS was a very polarising game for a lot of people, you either loved it for it’s interesting story, setting and character dynamics or hated it for having a confusing battle system that needed players to use both of the DS’s screens simultaneously alongside button inputs and touch screen controls which lead to a good portion of players developing hand injuries. 14 years later and the cult hit finally has a sequel with NEO: The World Ends With You. A new Reaper’s Game has started up in Shibuya that seems to have no end in sight; it’s up to Rindo and his friends to uncover the mysteries of this new Reaper’s Game, rise to the top of the rankings and break the endless cycle of death and competition.
NEO: The World Ends With You brings back the pin system from the original. Collectable pins you find in the world are used as amplifiers for your character's natural psychic abilities and function as attacks in battle. Each pin will have a different attack property; some are simple like a basic sword combo and projectile shots whilst others more unique, like being able to hurl cars at enemies or planting proximity bombs that snare enemies in place when triggered. Each pin has its own experience gauge which will increase the damage of the pins or even evolve them into more powerful forms once they hit max level.
Each pin when equipped is mapped to a single button on the controller; simple attacks like melee combos and projectile volleys are typically mapped to the face buttons while charges and hold style attacks are mapped to the shoulder buttons; this is done so the player can attack with multiple characters at once. This feature is best used with the Remix mechanic; each pin has a specific requirement in battle that, when fulfilled, will add a timer on the lock-on reticle; if the enemy is attacked with a different pin in that time, it’ll fill up the Groove gauge which will allow your team to unleash a powerful attack called a Remix which changes based on the last elemental attack used to fill the gauge. All of these elements incentivise the player into mixing and matching different pins to find fun and interesting combinations whilst constantly evolving their battle strategies and is an amazing way to reinvent and repurpose the original game’s Light Puck system.
NEO: The World Ends With You may have the greatest soundtrack of 2021 hands down! The way this game is able to constantly switch from genres like City Pop to Thrash Metal to Rap to EDM to Hip Hop to Nu Metal to RnB and still have everything feel like they belong in this setting is something to behold. The game also constantly cycles through multiple different songs during battle and when exploring the world, so you never get sick of hearing the same song over and over again.
- Simple yet expressive combat system
- Amazing reinventing of the original game’s mechanics
- SS-Tier soundtrack
Bringing back the pin system from the original The World Ends With You also brings the same negatives that came with it, albeit much less severe this time around. With the speed at which pins level up, you will be constantly switching them out for new ones which, by the time you’ve just gotten in the groove of how a specific pin flows in battle, you’ve just changed it with a new one which may have a different button input and will have to learn how the new pin fits in to the flow of combat.
In battle, your team pools together their HP into a single shared health pool. This leads to some weird difficulty spikes when the story needs one or more of your party members to leave momentarily. I had enemies I could easily defeat without worry one-shotting my entire party in certain sections.
NEO: The World Ends With You has something called the Social Networking system which is an interesting hybrid of Persona’s Social Link / Confidant system and Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid system. When you meet someone new, they get added to a giant grid and if they are connected to the main cast in any way, you can spend points for unique upgrades. Annoyingly, a lot of the grid is bogged down by store owners that get in the way of all the better upgrades and the only way to bypass them on the grid is to just keep buying stuff at their store and waste your money.
- Constant pin swapping leading to confusion in battle
- Weird difficulty spikes
- Annoying upgrade pathing
Final Score: 9/10
I’m not going to lie here, the hardest part about writing this review was trying to find something to complain about and in the end, all of its negatives are personal nitpicks. This game is such an impressive glow-up from the original game - I’m speechless. If you’re someone like me who was more on the fence about liking the original The World Ends With You, I highly suggest giving this game a go. It's a modern day classic JRPG and should be a part of every Switch owner’s game library.
Thank you for checking out our NEO: The World Ends With You Switch review, thank you to Bandai Namco AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: