Anime JRPG Review

Neo: The World Ends With You – Review

Neo: The World Ends With You is the second sequel from Square Enix I never thought we would see. Despite having a cult following, very little was said about the series. That is until the other year saw a rather poor port of the original to Switch, followed by an anime adaptation and now a full-on sequel. It seems The World has only just begun!

Shibuya Shake-down

NEO: The World Ends With You puts you in the stylish sneakers of Rindo Kanade. He’s a teenager with a passion for a mobile game; think Pokémon Go but with Final Fantasy characters. Rindo meets with his best friend Tosai Furesawa who has just purchased some special Pin Badges which sets the events of the game in motion. 

The main narrative of NEO: The World Ends With You features our heroes as they navigate the city of Shibuya and take part in the mysterious and deadly “Reaper Games”. The winning team gets granted any wish they want, whereas losing teams get “Deleted”. Can Rindo and his team survive 7 Days and return to reality?

The story manages to hit every beat that the original did, but in way that’s more relevant to modern times. It’s a gripping mystery; every single time you think you know what’s going on, it has just one more twist for you to keep you guessing until the game ends.

Neo: The World Ends With You - Have to Play

Players Assemble

The characters you meet throughout the game both ally and opposition are all fantastically written. It’s done in a way that they nail the anime cliche quota, but always have more depth and more often than not are quite endearing.

The foes you come across in The Reapers Game have that classic SquareEnix anime flamboyance about them. There’s that unmistakable flavor of outlandish yet acceptable. Why rein in the crazy when you can have it ooze from performance and motive in such a way it just works?

Neo: The World Ends With You - Combos

King or Street Sweeper

NEO: The World Ends With You is a 3D action RPG. Exploration takes place within the streets of Shibuya, and battles are activated by “scanning” enemies known as Noise. On paper, this sounds like your run-of-the-mill JRPG adventure, but NEO manages to make this a memorable and top-tier experience.

The combat here is real-time and each attack you perform is represented by the Badge Pins you collect in-game. These range from slash attacks to elemental attacks. There are far too many to list here.

Each character can be equipped with a Badge Pin and you can and will have 4 party members in battles when you progress far enough in the story. While keeping track of 4 characters may seem like a headache, each member only has one attack represented by a button and they are good at staying out of the way of Area of Effect attacks and minimizing frustration.

You can use your Badge Attack for as long as the meter allows it. When it runs out you’re looking at a cool-down period, so it’s never best to just go all out at the start. The game has a kind of rhythm to it and this is represented by the “Beat Drop Gauge”. After a few successful hits, if you attack with a different badge when prompted, this gauge builds until you can unleash a devastating attack.

The combat in the original The World Ends With You was a quirky system that took a while to adjust to but ultimately felt rewarding. SquareEnix managed to distill that and produce the same rewarding results without the awkward controls. It makes combat so fun and engaging that you don’t mind running into trouble. It’s just another excuse to throw down!

Everybody Dances with the Reaper

Your equips are fashion items with many different designs to suit any style. You can even show off the Gothic Lolita in all of us! While they don’t visually change your character, they often have attributes that can alter your game experience and make them worth hunting down. 

At any point in the game, you can lower your current experience level. This feature is a carryover and will change your loot drops. If you crave an easy life, you can just grind away but for those looking for risk and reward you can drop your level and have a rough but rewarding time.

Of course NEO: The World Ends With You is an RPG and you can’t have an RPG without side quests. You can use Rindo’s psychic abilities to help characters around Shibuya. Doing so not only fleshed out the cast and the world but also gives you Social Network points. These unlock more abilities. While there’s nothing groundbreaking here, the rewards are more than substantial and the quests are well written.

Neo: The World Ends With You - Team Battle


The soundtrack in NEO: The World Ends With You is one of those things that from the intro track you just know is going to be special. Not only does it have plenty of new bangers ranging from rock tracks to J-Pop and everything in between, but it also features rearranged tracks from the original TWENY for fans of the original to feel funky nostalgia feelings while jamming away in the streets of Shibuya.

The game features both a brilliant Japanese dub and frankly quite a strong English dub which shockingly doesn’t feature the usual suspects for anime stylized games. What’s on offer here really does suit the tone of the narrative. Whichever language you choose, you’re in for an aurally good time.

Neo: The World Ends With You - Ayano and Shiba


Visually NEO: The World Ends With You is pure, unadulterated style. From its stylistic menus to the way the city is designed, everything has this “Modern Punk/Funk” aesthetic. The city buildings lean in at an angle pulling you through the urban jungle, while the characters’ colors and zipper-filled outfits stick out with wild contrast.

Shibuya is beautifully recreated in a way that makes it fun to explore, while nailing the iconic elements synonymous with the Japanese district. Each area has its own unique ambiance that instantly jumps out at you. You won’t even be relying on the map after long, as the locations just stick in your memory.

The cutscenes range from fully animated to static images and text but with different frames of animations. The fully animated sections have this look and feel where everything isn’t quite perfectly animated and it feels more like drawings coming to life. Again it reeks of Punk and I personally think that was partly what tied the story together and drew me in further.

The actual graphics engine powering this rocking good time isn’t exactly the strongest by any stretch. Despite this, the visual style coupled with the smooth gameplay that only stuttered when things got hectic just really hits home that you don’t need bells and whistles when you have some A+ art direction and a unique and powerful visual identity.


NEO: The World Ends With You is the sequel that no one saw coming. It does everything a sequel should do in offering an additional experience while following the themes and tones of what came before it. It’s a visual buffet with gameplay in buckets to back it up and has a tale to tell that you’ll never see coming. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to play the game!


Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

If you enjoy great JRPGs, then perhaps you’d like our detailed review for Persona 5 Royal. Or our look at Final Fantasy VII EPISODE INTERmission?

Many thanks go to Square Enix for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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