- Developer: IzanagiGames
- Publisher: NIS America
- Release date: 28/5/2021
- Price: £35.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by NIS America
Introducing: World’s End Club Review
I have a big soft spot for the Death Game genre of media. Hunger Games, Battle Royale (the movie, not the game mode), Danganronpa, all of those series that have grabbed me by the throat and dragged me along to their bloody conclusions. So the concept of it happening to a group of middle schoolers done up in the exaggerated style of the Dangonronpa characters was something that I was interested in right away. Needless to say, getting my hands on this game was something I was looking forward to. So, now that I have, what was it like? Continue reading my review of World’s End Club to find out.
That’s Great, It starts with and Earthquake
I was disappointed to say the least. We started off with the characters getting the bad ending for the game before we were rolled back to the start, but it was strange because the end of the game didn’t seem to have any connection to what I thought this was going to be. Still, I went on to see the death game. Unfortunately the whole concept of the characters being trapped in some sort of game where they are pitted against each other with failure having implied deadly consequences was something that barely lasted an hour. The game itself even has a time limit of an hour placed on it, if you can believe that. The rest of the game takes place after the kids escape the death game and sends them on an adventure to get home. They discover that they have new powers along the way and trying to figure out just what the heck happened and how that hour they were gone somehow means that it’s a year after they were knocked out.
While I was initially disappointed that the game was not what the opening hours made it seem, I was still willing to give it a shot. Then the characters just ended up being more and more grating. They are exceptionally “one note”. Now, that’s not always a bad thing. I love most of the Danganronpa cast and those are also characters that are built around a single gimmick most of the time. However, this cast is just simply annoying. The lighthearted vibe that it’s going for means that these characters are not only meant to be based around one gimmick, but that gimmick is also meant to be funny. The comedy just was not landing for me. Not to mention that this group of supposed friends starts arguing at the drop of a hat to facilitate you choosing between two groups in a storyline that keeps branching and converging. Often, I found myself choosing the group of characters that just annoyed me less each time that I had to make one of these choices. There were a few that eventually grew on me a little, but others just never stopped grating me like they did before.
I think part of my problem is that the new plot developments and plot twists tend to come out of nowhere so everything ends up feeling pretty contrived as a result. Nothing about the adventure feels like it was very planned out. Plot points were nearly made up along the way. Sometimes something will be set up and then pay off later, but for every case of that, there’s just as many cases of a seemingly important element getting dropped. Perhaps the strangest thing to me is the way some of the minor characters you interact with have relevance on the level of being a generic townsperson, will just very forcefully say something a bunch to make it clear that it is about to be plot relevant. None of the way that this narrative is constructed feels organic. It’s certainly not one of the worst stories that I have seen, but it’s one where I could see the seams when it came to the writing process.
You’re Vitriolic, Patriotic, Slam Fight, Bright Light
Gameplay left a lot to be desired. All of it is this platforming where you run on a 2D plane and solve extremely simple puzzles. The only thing that makes it difficult is the fact that everything kills you in one hit, making you watch the game over screen before it dumps you back in five feet back from where you were before. Half the time my deaths came from either the physics of items in the area being wonky or the fact that the jump you are given is absolutely pitiful and doesn’t do much at all. The game also wants you to make use of the powers that the kids have, but it’s all really simple and this part of the gameplay never really evolves. You always have a few other characters with you and I kept expecting that there would be a part where I would need to rotate through the kids that I had in my group in order to find the proper power to use, but it never came. I was always just put in the shoes of the kid that had the power I needed with little to no critical thinking skill needed. The game would literally stop, have the characters talk about how someone else would be a better fit for the situation, then put me in the shoes of that character. Why not allow me to decide that for myself? I would almost think this was a game for young kids if not for the fact that it begins the story with a death game scenario.
What’s even more upsetting is that the game feels the need to weave story into these gameplay segments. This isn’t something that I would entirely object to in most cases since I am of the belief that the two should be woven together in many types of games. However, World’s End Club does it in a pretty clunky way. While playing the 2D side scrolling segments, the game will stop dead for a mini cutscene with the characters you have. It’s bad enough that this completely interrupts the flow of the gameplay, but it also happens far too often for my liking. There were frequent points where I would do literally a minute or two of platforming and puzzling before the game would interrupt me again. They were so frequent that it became irritating because I felt like I wasn’t actually playing the game.
Besides the action stages there are two others. Story stages and camp stages. Story stages are just what they sound like. Blocks of the story that vary in length from stage to stage that mostly consist of the characters talking or learning plot elements. This is usually where you make some minor choice that might branch you off in two different directions. It’s all pretty straightforward. Camp segments are like the story sections, but you’re able to skip the portion that is not plot relevant where you are able to talk to each of the characters and get a feel for how they’re doing. Looking at the volume of these, the camp and story stages far outweigh the action ones, to the point where I almost question why this story wasn’t just put into the form of a visual novel or an anime. I know there’s already an existing manga and I really feel that this type of 2D action platforming wasn’t the right fit for the game. Especially given how small the segment of the time we spend on it in the game compared to how much is just pressing a button to progress dialogue.
Six ‘O Clock, TV Hour, Don’t Get Caught in Foreign Tower
Visually, I do have to say that World’s End Club is a pretty good looking game. Some of the monster designs are really creative and the character design is obviously the stand out attraction here. I dare you to find one character design among the core set that you don’t at least find appealing just from the artwork. The only real issue that I have is that the animations used for the characters could be pretty repetitive at times. I swear, I must have seen Chuko lean formward and stomp her foot in the exact same way near a hundred times while I was playing for every emotion from slight irritation to real anger. It just made the characters all feel a little stiff on screen. That being said, I refuse to believe that all of these characters are supposed to be twelve or so years old when they range from looking sixteen to six.
The music wasn’t anything that I found super compelling. Though the main theme that played over the map/stage select was an infectious ear-worm that I’m unlikely to shake anytime soon. The voicework by all the actors was really great too. Despite how some characters were grating for me, I can’t deny that their actors all turned in wonderful performances despite when they may have a middling script.
It’s the End of the World as we Know it
I never ran into any bugs or glitches while I was playing. At least none that were a problem. I had one point where I defeated an enemy in a boss fight, only for its projectile to immediately strike me. But I got out unscathed thanks to the boss being busy dying on the other side of the screen. Perhaps it is an oversight that I didn’t die from that, but it’s not game breaking anyway so I wouldn’t be upset with the developers for that.
And I Feel Fine
Overall, I don’t hate World’s End Club, but I just end up feeling rather blah about the whole affair. While I can get behind the designers trying something a little different, I think that a lot of what was happening just ended up not meshing well together. It’s not particularly long either, which was a little strange as some early and middle portions could feel like they were moving too slow while both of the endings could sometimes move at a breakneck pace. If you have apple arcade, you can play a portion of the game as a demo, so I highly recommend doing so before making any big commitment like I did.
- Great visual and character design
- Wonderful voicework
- Poorly paced story
- Bland and uninspired gameplay
- Gameplay that does not evolve
- Some characters are plain grating