NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

Given the release of the demo on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in the past few days, we took the opportunity to give you our first impressions on NEO: The World Ends With You with this substantial preview

Tetsuya Nomura. There are those who love it and those who hate it, those who appreciate its work and style, those who instead would like to throw themselves on the ground to cry every time they read the name behind a project. We admit that he is a somewhat unpredictable man and generally very unique, but there is also no doubt that he has an innate talent and a very impactful style. We recently saw him working on Final Fantasy VII Remake, but his collaboration with Square Enix is ​​now twenty years old and always very linked to the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series. There is a game, however, which is rarely talked about and which really deserves a lot more space in the more mainstream audience. Let’s talk about The World Ends With You.

TWEWY is back!

The first chapter was originally released on the Nintendo DS way back in 2007, and then received, in 2018, a remaster (including a new epilogue) for the Nintendo Switch entitled The World Ends With You: Final Remix. Since then, fans of the brand have been hoping incessantly for the announcement of a sequel or any news regarding the franchise, outside of the appearance of the protagonists in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. At the end of November 2020 the good news finally came: Neo The World Ends With You exists, will be released on July 27th and in recent days a demo has been released on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, demo from which our preview starts!

The Game of Demons – Preview NEO: The World Ends With You

The demo allowed us to experience the first two days of the new Game of Demons that Square Enix has put in place for this long-awaited sequel. The story puts us in the shoes of Rindo and Fret, two protagonists who in many ways reminded us of Neku and Shiki of the first chapter, although in this case we start from a friendship well established and solid. Three years have passed since the end of the first chapter and, while the two boys cross the “Scramble”, the crowded and very busy iconic intersection of Shibuya, they suddenly find themselves teleported into the Surreal Plane.

Placed at a completely different level than the Real one, the Game of Demons, a seven-day competition in which participating teams must accumulate points carrying out different tasks for each day and, in particular, trying to survive. The first bars of the game, mainly characterized by dialogues and some particularly inspired cinematics, serve to make us quickly identify with this “new” Shibuya.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

NEO Shibuya – Anteprima NEO: The World Ends With You

Although in fact the setting is practically the same, the popular neighborhood will turn out to be completely different even for fans of the first chapter. The first main aspect that denotes this difference is given by the people who live there. There will be many faces already known, which we don’t want to tell you about so as not to spoil the surprise effect (even if, if you have already seen some trailers, you will already know who we are talking about), but as many will be the new ones and, from what we have been able to notice, they are all well characterized and recognizable.

The second fundamental reason why this “new” Shibuya is diametrically different from that of the first The World Ends With You is quite simple. Compared to the prequel, in fact, now the neighborhood is fully explorable in 3D, in all the most popular streets and busy shopping mall buildings. The impression, therefore, is that of finding an old friend after so many years: changed, changed, but always recognizable and familiar. Explore the various avenues with the fixed camera, which offers truly crazy views, is a real feast for the eyes thanks to an above-average artistic sector.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

Eccolo qua – Anteprima NEO: The World Ends With You

And this is where he, Tetsuya Nomura, who also in this case took charge of the design of the entire game, comes into play. If Shibuya is exceptionally evocative, full of street and pop art, even if re-evaluated in a more modern key than the first chapter, once again the masters are the designs of the various characters (and why not, also of Noises, our main enemies). Unique, “branded” and terribly iconic, the models are very detailed, both as regards the sprites of the dialogues, both for the 3D ones. The only thing we could notice out of tune, on a graphic level, is the game engine that is a bit old now and which highlights, together with the enormous amount of style, a little few polygons.

This small deficit, however, is already simple to explain, even in this first preview: on the one hand we have a budget certainly not comparable to that of Kingdom Hearts III or the aforementioned Final Fantasy VII Remake. On the other hand, our test for the preview took place on a PlayStation 4, but we remind you that Neo The World Ends With You will also be released on Nintendo Switch.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

No More Touch – NEO: The World Ends With You Preview

Abandoned the stylus of the Nintendo DS, abandoned the touch controls and motion sensors of the Nintendo Switch, how does Neo The World Ends With You work in terms of gameplay? Nothing could be simpler, with the controller. Rindo is accompanied by two teammates in the demo, but we imagine that it will lead to a party of four in the full game. Each member can only be assigned one pin, at least from what we have been able to appreciate in this trial version, and each pin will be assigned to a specific controller key. The rest is button smashing.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

As in the first chapter, each pin will have a reload time once it is fully used. It will therefore be important to best chain the combos, fundamental in this sequel, to raise the Groove bar at the top of the screen and which, once reached 100%, will allow us to release a devastating attack. Everything is quick, fast and focused, not at all confusing, but perhaps a little too simple. In fact, we must admit that, although the commands of The World Ends With You: Final Remix have left us with a bad taste in our mouth at the time and that nothing will ever beat the Nintendo DS version, the “NEO” gameplay seemed too simplified and devoted to flapping his fingers on the controller to melt the various enemies.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

Boss e soundtrack? – Anteprima NEO: The World Ends With You

Even the bosses didn’t seem particularly difficult on Normal difficulty, although we are still talking about the first two chapters of the game. Furthermore, even in this case, it is possible to raise the level of difficulty from the appropriate menu, as well as adjust the level of the characters to increase and decrease the drop rate. In short, as for the first chapter, the customization possibilities offered by the game are undoubtedly many. It will only be necessary to understand if and how Square Enix has decided to exploit them, to give new life to the title without distorting the excellent basic idea too much.

A small mention of the soundtrack, the spiritual heir of the first chapter of The World Ends With You, but which definitely can’t keep up. While wisely ranging from metal to rock, through pop and hip hop, for now it seemed like a jumble of remixed prequel and tracks new tracks not particularly inspired. We were therefore slightly disappointed in this regard, but it is certain that, as with all other aspects of the game, we reserve the right to drastically change our minds during the review.

NEO preview: The World Ends With You, our first impressions!

Let’s wait

At the end of our preview dedicated to Neo The World Ends With You and net of these first two hours of play, we can define ourselves particularly satisfied with the progress that Square Enix seems to have made with the brand. The combat system does not fully convince us and seems, in general, completely devoted to button smashing, but we are still talking about too initial impressions, considering the JRPG nature of the title. It will take many hours to find out if this feeling is really a reality or if the company will manage to amaze us with the sequel we all needed, but didn’t know we deserved. NEO TWEWY is coming!

We remind you that NEO: The World Ends With You will be released on July 27th on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Are you passionate about the first chapter of this series? What do you think about it? Write it to us below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the news, guides and reviews on videogame and tech! And if you are interested in game keys at affordable prices, we recommend that you take a look at the InstantGaming catalog!