Got a shorter post today since I was busy this week, hope you enjoy!
When Neo The World Ends With You, aka The World Ends With You 2 was announced, it prompted me to play the original finally. I'd heard it was up my alley, and after learning that it takes place in a real location (Shibuya) and has a dark story, on top of what I already knew about it (dope art style and dope music), I decided to start looking into the best way to play it.
You see, there's 3 major versions of the game: the original DS game, Solo remix, and Final Remix. The DS game is supposed to control the best by far, with battles taking place across both screens and the stylus allowing the touch-based fighting system to be fun AND precise. Solo remix is the cheapest version of the game, and has remastered visuals, but trades in the two screen mayhem of the original game for a simplified one screen system. Final Remix is a port of Solo Remix to switch, with extra content, co-op in docked mode, and the best looks so far, but the controls are the worst so far: In docked mode, you use the joy con as a pointer to simulate touch controls, which by all accounts barely works. In handheld mode it's a slightly bigger version of the phone controls, which work fine. In addition, it's far and away the most expensive version! Anyways I went with the DS version for the cool fighting system lol.
Now, after actually playing it, I almost wish I'd gone with another version. The fighting system is imprecise and asks you to split your attention between both screens, where both characters are fighting seperate battles. The top screen battle is pretty simple, but it's still a lot to keep track of. On top of that, the touch controls for the lower battle aren't as precise as I'd like them to be. And you'd think such a complicated battle system would mean the game is rather forgiving, and you'd be partly right.
It introduces battle mechanics pretty slowly, really trying to give you time to get used to everything, but in a game this short (20ish hours for me) you just don't have time before the difficulty ramps up. If you stick to normal difficulty, you'd better be grinding. I ended up switching to easy for all the major bossfights and the entire last third of the game, and even then some of the battles were still pretty rough. The simplified combat of Solo Remix and Final Remix is supposed to be easier to handle, but regardless this is not an easy game, even on easy.
Themes and Art
Onto the actual content of the game now: This game has a super well done comic booky art style. All the character designs are great but the real star here is the style of the world. In this Shibuya, buildings slant in every direction and graffiti covers every backstreet. Some streets are so densely packed with people you can't see the asphalt, and one day you wake up in the middle of a crosswalk, surrounded by shoes and noise. And I don't just mean the noise of the people around you. The enemies in this game are called Noise, and aren't dissimilar to the concept of shadows in persona: On the overworld, they appear as just abstract symbols, but in the battles they take the form of animals.
Now the fact that the enemies are called noise is a really good example of the way this game expresses it's main themes. The first thing you learn about Neku (the main character) is that he doesn't like people: they get in his way, they don't offer anything useful, and they're noisy. So these enemies are supposed to symbolize the noise of the crowd, and you can only fight them with a partner, which makes sense if you've ever been in a large crowd with a close friend.
This ties back into the combat difficulty, which thematically is great! I think the idea there is learning to work with other people, with the end goal of "getting good at the combat system" also having thematic relevance, aka learning to get along with other people. I still think it's too imprecise for it's own good, and personally I never really got the two battle system to work all too well, but I see the idea and super duper appreciate it.The other themes this game explores, like this one, all relate to realizing that you need other people to escape your own head, but you have to make the effort to let them in. In other words, your world ends with you, but it also begins with you.
Everything this game does is a statement of theme, even the title, and every theme this game shows you feels extremely poignant in the pandemic we're living in right now. We can't safely see friends and family, and we can't meet new people. Our worlds are shrinking, and to be safe right now we must let them. Even with the rather tough combat, I'd recommend this game wholeheartedly, especially since we're so distanced from our friends for the time being.
Anyways that's all I wrote this week! Right now I'm playing through Final Fantasy XII, so hopefully I can get that done by next week. After that, I'm on to PERSONA 5 ROYAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!goodnight