Tokyo is the biggest city in the world, and I felt it the most busy on my first trips. When I say busiest, I am referring to the amount of visual information you see when walking around Shibuya. There are signs, letters, screen, stencils, and even municipal mascots. The sheer amount of visual information is overwhelming and maximalist, it’s an absolute joy to see. It will settle down as you go on, but it’s always there. It doesn’t seem to want to stop. This is the kind of thing NEO: The World ends with You excels at capturing.
Review of NEO: The World Ends With You
- PublisherSquare Enix
- DeveloperSquare Enix H.a.n.d.
- Available:Available on Switch and PS4 July 27th
Neo, the sequel to a dazzling DS anomaly, is yet another RPG. It takes place in Tokyo’s Shibuya region. Neo starts at Scramble Crossing and travels to skyscrapers as well as crooked shopping lanes and freeway underpasses. This is Tokyo. It is a different kind of Tokyo. Jet Set Radio also explored this same territory – you may recognize the paving and the cant of famous buildings – but it is the exact same emotional terrain: teens, fashion, brands and shopping, friendships and text messages as well as pop culture references.
It’s a maximalist, visual assault! It’s a double-edged sword! You need to know where you are! You can find the best places to look! This is what Neo does. Many of the enemies, especially the ones in front, are well-known. A number of attacks that you can collect to level up and receive as pin badges have been adapted from earlier games. There are no 2 screens. There is no stylus. How do you make it work? What to do?
Although it would be strange to enter the combat system without talking about the story, Neo is still a wonderful topsy-turvy title. Let’s see what happens. Neo lets you manage a group of fighters in combat. Each one has a unique badge that powers their attacks. You can have different inputs from your badges so you will have three square guys, one triangle, and some triggers. The triangle is my preferred leader – sharp, repetitive taps which blast out strikes and slashes with a shining blade. Square supports them with lightning or magical arrows, then I can hit triggers or bumpers to heal, depending on my mood. To bring an iceberg spearing from the ground, I need to charge the button for longer.
Add in the dodging and the fact the menageries that you are facing like to use mix-and match packs to their attacks, and there’s plenty to consider. Neo is only the beginning. The Groove Meter is located at the top of your screen. It builds as you make attacks. This is how it works. Hit baddies with one attack until you receive a combination timer. Then switch to another move, continuing the combo until your combo timer tells you to change again. You can build your Groove Meter by pulling off special moves when the Groove Meter is full. You don’t have to stop there.
You’re actually balancing the cooldowns of each attack and badge. You’ll be able to move closer towards a cooldown by jabbing the triangle. You can time this by switching to another party member or a new attack, before breaking the chain. Can you switch between them to stay ahead of recharge times? Can you keep an eye out for incoming attacks and which party member is being incapacitated or bitten by jellyfish? And what’s your groove meter doing?
The battling is my favorite part of the story. It adds a sense of humor and complexity to the tale. It is beautiful from all angles. Neo’s style of art is all about visual excess. He uses thick black lines and anime characters, has trend-wave hairstyles, and wears extremely detailed young fashions. Your attacks will fit right in, with massive laser blasts and torrents of fire, as well as glittering magic. The enemies are also there! A shark that likes to swim under the street and then explodes is a favorite of mine from the early game. The presence of jellyfish is a sure sign you are going to be busy. They like to break in half. There are bosses too, which are the worst of all, and one that made me sob with laughter. The game ends with target prioritisation. Next, you will have enemies that must be attacked in a particular angle. There are also enemy teams.
Here is the heart of the story. You and your friends get dropped in to a metaphysical reality television game show, just like the original game. You are marooned in an interdimensional island with Shibuya landmarks and you’re at the mercy a group of Reapers. These hipster game masters will divide your life into weeks and days while you fight other teams for supremacy. Every day you’ll be given a mission. It could be a puzzle, an instruction or territory capture. You will race across the map fighting monsters and other players. The week ends with one winner and the other losing.
This is just a way to make a joke of one outrageously bizarre stereotype. The soapy plotline is constantly interrupted by rival teams. This happens because you try to figure out the Reapers’ game. The team obsessed with rivers is my favorite – but which kind? The big meany, who views all life as a game called Reversi. While the plot keeps you in a stalemate with other teams, it also gives you an opportunity to feel empathy for them as they plan and counter-plan against you. Everyone wants to stay at the top of the leaderboards by the end. It feels alive and fluid, even though the plot is tightly controlled.
This is not only for the teams. You will often be asked to explore Shibuya or make an impact on the lives of people passing by. You must fight for their good emotions and defeat the evil monsters who prey upon them. You can help some people by putting words into their heads and reminding them of the importance of a good moral reminder. The game can sometimes struggle with these implications at times, but it is also warm and humorous and gives players such as me an opportunity to see preoccupations from a faraway city.
Tokyo! The city, while Neo may be known for his battling skills, is also a great place to visit. It’s easy to see Shibuya’s surroundings and its surrounding areas, which are carved into small sections that fit together, but retain their individual identities. The game is stunning to look at – it has a strong tourism cred. But then, there’s the pedestrians, who can see the thoughts of other realms and can link monsters together in order to create massive battles. You can buy equipment that increases your stats, and you can upgrade the shops to unlock better gear. There is also a shop that sells food that will boost your stats but requires cooldowns for overeating. Every establishment has its unique character, and each one offers its own products. The Scramble Crossing cheeseburgers are a favorite of mine. I also spent 20 minutes trying to find a particular bookshop. I did not even require a book, I simply wanted to look.
Neo’s map may be small, but it is huge. You have all the pins you need to locate and level up. Each attack and synergy has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. You have the other teams you must fight and slowly learn to defeat. It’s not easy to get through the difficulty spikes. Then there is all of the business bits – time travel and therapy dives – that can be used to help you spin fighting and puzzle-solving and moving around in different missions. Although Neo is repetitive at times, it has two great trumps that save the day for me. One, it was fun to backtrack across Shibuya and look at all the sights and people. This also opened up many opportunities for solving puzzles that require looking closely at urban environments. The middle-act example is particularly funny. These battles can be a lot of fun. You switch from one attack to the next, building your groove, and listening to the encouragements of your teammates as you go. This is where the hit-pause really shines. Each victory is celebrated with a delicious, luscious chew.
This setting can change everything. A series of unlocked perks can feel a little special when they are dressed up in a web of emerging social networks. Nodes can be unlocked by sharing friend points with people you’ve met. These badges can unleash amazing attacks, evolve and level up, and they are also extremely collectible and desirable. Although the story can sometimes be a bit long, it is well-written and the characters have a nice look.
Sometimes I feel a twinge. Shibuya was a place I visited personally. I stayed in the hotel right across the Scramble Crossing for one night. I also get the occasional shock of Neo being recognized. More often, I feel like worlds are glancing at worlds. The world of Neo is stumbling past that of Jet Set Radio. Although I doubt I would ever be able to get to know Tokyo as well as I do in the games, you can get an amazing angled view. It’s a very generous game.
Publited at Mon 26 July 2021, 15:25:02 (+0000).