It’s hard to believe The World Ends with You is more than a decade old. When it first came out back in 2007, it was all the rage among RPG fans, especially those familiar with Square Enix’s flagship series. Initially released on Nintendo DS, it was eventually ported to mobile devices and, most recently, Nintendo Switch in the form of The World Ends with You: Final Remix. Although it is capable of standing on its own, the game is heavily inspired by its spiritual predecessor – Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories – but it ultimately shapes up as the superior of the two.
The World Ends with You puts you in the shoes of a young boy named Neku Sakuraba, who oneday regains consciousness without his memories on the busy streets of an urban-esque Tokyo. A girl who goes by the name Shiki Misaki meets Neku early on and convinces him to join her on a survival quest called the Reapers’ Game, which could result in total erasure upon failure within a span of seven days. Feeling confused and pressured at the same time, Neku reluctantly agrees to serve as Shiki’s teammate as an attempt to save his own life. It’s a dark yet entertaining story that manages to properly invite you to keep playing in order to find out what happens next. If you haven’t played throughout it before, you’re in for an engaging ride brimming with several twists and turns along the way.
Neku is initially painted as a rude and selfish character who only appears to care about himself, but he slowly opens up and becomes likeable as time passes by. Exploring and developing relationships is a core theme, and Neku eventually accepts this by forging bonds to make him stronger. Most of the main characters are unique and relatable to a certain extent, particularly to a younger audience. However, the same can’t be said about the lifeless non-player characters (NPCs). There are throngs of people throughout different settings, but the variety is practically nonexistent. You’ll often find identical NPCs numerous times; it’s very common to spot multiple duplicates walking right next to each other. While this may not have been a big deal on Nintendo DS, it is highly noticeable on the larger TV screen and even in handheld mode on the Switch’s HD display. Similarly, the graphics are overtly simple as per today’s standards but fortunately don’t take away from the overall experience; it just would’ve been appreciated if the port was given a modern facelift.
As an action RPG, The World Ends with You revolves around a battle system that involves two contrasting parties trying to take each other down in real time by depleting their health points (HP). If you come out on top at the end of a match, your stats will get a boost and you’ll receive bonuses. The majority of enemies are monstrous creatures that use the same types of aggressive moves to hurt you. But Neku is equipped with greater freedom when it comes to executing attacks. Throughout your journey, you’ll collect special pins that grant you psychic-driven abilities, such as fire to burn enemies, ice to freeze them, electricity to electrocute them, or heal to regain your HP. You’ll eventually have a ton of pins at your disposal and it’ll be your choice to select which ones to go with. This is reminiscent of the card-based battle system introduced in Chain of Memories, but it feels refined and less restricted by comparison. As the story progresses, you’ll gain access to additional pins and new techniques for you and your partner to experiment with and take advantage of.
On Switch, there are two prime control schemes. You can use touch controls in handheld mode or pointer controls in TV or tabletop modes. You can play the full adventure using either method, but you’ll undoubtedly come across gripes in both. Touch controls are precise and reliable, but they can also be obstructive during battles with your fingers getting in the way. On the other hand, pointer controls tend to be more relaxing as you can play with a single Joy-Con, but they’re not always accurate and are oftentimes unresponsive. The good thing is you can switch it up at any period to match your playstyle.
Outside of battle, Neku has an interesting ability that allows him to scan the environment. This lets you hunt for clues toward your next objective. You can also listen to people’s thoughts just for fun, which is pretty cool until separate characters emit the same words over and over again. Finding enemies to battle is also performed via scanning, enabling you to select who you want to face off against whenever you feel like it. You’ll want to try to fight as many enemies as possible in order to get stronger and unlock new items.
Square Enix is known for its exceptional soundtracks in most of its franchises, including Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Chrono Trigger, but the music in The World Ends with You may actually be my least favorite element of the game. There is a diversity of genres represented and I wanted to enjoy them all, but I found myself lowering the volume on many occasions to focus on the core gameplay. A significant amount of the tracks feature vocals that can be downright distracting at times. For example, during dialogue sessions between characters, it can prove to be difficult paying attention to reading text bubbles while a rap is simultaneously playing in the background.
Since it’s been a while since the original title made its debut, chances are you are like Neku and don’t remember everything at this stage. If that’s the case, the Switch version can provide you with another round of entertainment that can be played on the go and in the comfort of your own home. For newcomers, picking up The World Ends with You: Final Remix should be a no-brainer as it’s definitely the definitive version of the Nintendo DS gem.
A review copy of The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.