Preview: NEO: The World Ends with You

3 Jun 2021
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We recently had a chance to get hands-on time with Square Enix’s upcoming release of NEO: The World Ends with You.

I never got around to playing the original The World Ends with You on the Nintendo DS back in 2007, but I was certainly aware of the game. Now, with the next game in the series coming out, in addition to an animation, I was excited at the chance to finally see just what exactly TWEWY is all about.

During this virtual hands-on, we got to play about two hours of the game, which took us to the end of Day 2. This preview was from the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

The Reapers’ Game

The session put us into the shoes of the game’s main protagonist, Rindo. While walking around the Shibuya area, Rindo and his friend Fret experience a weird event and find that they have been entered into the Reapers’ Game. The Reapers’ Game pits teams against each other in order to complete a mission every day during an entire week. The RNS, or Reaper Networking Service, pops up on Rindo and Fret’s phones as they slowly work to understand just what exactly they’ve gotten into.

The character interactions are portrayed in a comic-like style, with characters talking in speech balloons. Because of this there aren’t a lot of animations, but I never felt like these scenes really need any. I found myself enjoying the style. A number of times Rindo would pull out his phone to message Fret or another of his friends and it was funny to see chat stickers featuring things like Moogles and Tonberries.

Scanning the Environment

Each day, the RNS will give Rindo and his team a new mission to complete. Sometimes in order to complete that mission you might need some help from the environment. By scanning the environment, Rindo is able to peer into the thoughts of passersby to see what they’re thinking about. Occasionally, this can help lead to clues about the day’s mission, while other times, it’s some humorous dialogue that doesn’t have any impact on anything at all (Looking at you @ManholeManiac!)

Later in the game, Fret unlocks his Rewind power and can take this mechanic of mind reading one step further by getting pedestrians to remember things that are vital clues to their missions.

Scanning an area will also reveal enemies in the area that you can battle against. As they work to complete their daily mission, Rindo and his group will encounter the Noise. These enemies will appear around the area and Rindo and his party can initiate combat with them in order to earn experience points as well as pins (more on that later). If you’re up to the challenge, you can also chain these encounters together which can increase the drop rate of rewards.

Groovy

The combat in NEO: The World Ends with You seems simple enough at a glance. Each person in your party can equip a pin that will give them a specific ability to utilize in combat as you run around. That ability is mapped to a specific button. So let’s say for example you have two different pins that can be used on the square button – only one of those pins can be equipped at a time (though the game did hint that this may change later on).

After entering my first fight against the Noise, I quickly came to see that the combat was a little trickier than it appeared. Each pin can only be used so much before it needs to recharge. In addition, after attacking an enemy for a bit, the game will prompt you to use a different character’s pin, which will help to build up the party’s “Groove”. It took me a few battles to get into the… dare I say, “groove” of things, getting used to my abilities, figuring out the best timing to make sure my meters didn’t run dry while also trying to stay on top of combos. Once Groove reaches 100%, the party can unleash a powerful combo psych to deal a bunch of damage to enemies.

As I progressed and defeated more enemies, I collected more pins, offering different abilities for my characters to equip. When used in battle, the pins can gain experience points, level up, and sometimes evolve. During my exploring, I required a specific pin in order to progress to the next area. Thankfully, the game has the ‘Noisepedia’ which is essentially a bestiary that can give you information on the different types of Noise enemies you’ll encounter. It will also tell you which type of Noise can drop certain pins.

Pin It

Having never experienced the first title in the series (I know, I know), I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect coming into NEO: The World Ends with You. While the missions that I experienced during Day 1 and Day 2 weren’t terribly complicated, the real fun for me was in the character interactions and the combat. I also found myself bobbing my head along to the soundtrack as well.

I’m looking forward to checking out the full game when it releases next month.

NEO: The World Ends with You releases on July 27 for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. It will launch on PC later this summer.


Images courtesy of Square Enix. Game played remotely on PlayStation 4 hardware.