The World Ends With You remains a bright spot in Square Enix’s catalogue – one of its most memorable and original projects. Back when it first launched in 2008, the game had style, substance, and took advantage of the Nintendo DS hardware in clever ways. Nearly a decade later, fans continue to beg for a sequel. Joining a previous mobile port, this Switch version provides another way to play The World Ends With You, featuring extras such as co-op, remixed music, and a brand-new scenario. The additions and overall port are disappointing and frustrating, making this an inferior-but-acceptable way to play this action/RPG. Even so, The World Ends With You is still a great game, and no amount of lackluster extra content can change that.
The World Ends With You follows Neku Sakuraba, a young man who doesn’t really trust or care for other people. He wakes up with no memory in the middle of Shibuya, slowly being introduced to the Reapers’ Game, a week-long competition for the recently deceased, allowing them to win their life back or face erasure. To make it out alive, Neku must find a teammate and succeed at missions given to him with cryptic clues. During the game, Neku partners with three unique personalities: the upbeat Shiki, the elusive Joshua, and the hot-headed Beat. In the end, the narrative speaks to finding meaning in the world through others. The dark story remains captivating, thanks to its intriguing characters, stunning twists, and more poignant moments.
One of the big draws on Switch is a new scenario called A New Day, which takes place after the main storyline. It throws Neku back into the game and pairs him with Beat again. They’re joined by a new character, a Reaper named Coco. She is an incredibly annoying, childish people-pleaser who has a valley girl accent, saying things like “totes” far too frequently. A New Day is only worth playing for what it teases at the end; other than that, it’s grindy, repetitive, and predictable. It takes a few hours to complete, holds more of a challenge than the main game with a few new enemies, and you can grab some new pins (your skills) for battle to vary things up, but none of that amounts to much fun.
I was super excited about the prospect of co-op in this version; it fits well with the core message of the game, which is the value of working together. However, the co-op is not well-suited for the Switch platform. The controls are normally touchscreen-heavy, but in co-op, you and your partner each take a JoyCon, relying on its motion controls like a Wii Remote to target and activate pins with the various motions such as slash and drag. It’s the worst way to play a game all about the fast-paced frenzy of battle. The JoyCons are imprecise and awkward, making it hard to target or even coordinate effectively with your partner. I was immediately turned off by co-op, as it’s more frustration than it’s worth.
Playing solo fares better, but the controls are far from perfect. Final Remix uses the same touchscreen controls as the iOS version, which lack the precision of a stylus. Dragging Neku around the screen to avoid attacks is the area most affected by this. The touch controls are also too sensitive, so going between areas can often be intolerable; it’s easy to accidentally drag Neku back to the previous location. Similar to issues in the original version, your inputs don’t always trigger or do what you intend as tapping, slashing, and pressing an enemy can register differently. That being said, the more you get in the groove and master your skills, the less frustrating this becomes. I still had fun chaining combos and getting powerful pins that offer cool abilities that cater to telekinesis, explosives, and physical moves.
The World Ends With You is a still a solid RPG with interesting mechanics and an engaging story, living up to its reputation. Even playing all these years later, it still feels very fresh with its own unique identity. While the Switch version is still fun, it’s far from a great port, and the extra content is pretty disappointing. Then again, if this is your only way to play or revisit a fantastic game, you should definitely take that opportunity.