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02 April 2009

The World Ends With You [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 8/10
You are a young man by the name of Neku. At the start of the game, you wake up face down on the ground with no memory beyond your name and a vague idea of where you are (the Shibuya district of Tokyo). Suddenly, your phone rings as you receive a text message telling you to go to a specific location within a designated amount of time. The message is punctuated by the sentence "Fail, and face erasure." What follows is a week-long "game" involving one mission per day that you must complete, if you want to live. Of course, this is all just the beginning of the story as Neku slowly regains his memories and gets to know the other players of the game.
I was moderately impressed with the story, here. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, the writers threw another legitimately unforeseeable plot twist into the mix. It's hard to discuss what I liked and didn't like about the story without giving away some of its secrets. But I will say that the story, for the most part, kept me guessing. For a Square-Enix game, that was a very welcome surprise.
I'll give the plot synopsis an 8 out of 10. It's nice to see Squenix trying something that isn't just another predictable Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest title.

Game Play: 7/10
The game play in The World Ends With You heavily relies on the Nintendo DS's touch screen. Personally, this makes me happy. I mean, why bother making a game for a system that has a touch screen if you aren't going to incorporate that fact into your basic controls? Some of the controls are fairly intuitive, and the rest are easy enough to figure out if you just look around the menu screens and read what the game has to say about things.
I'll give the game play a 7 out of 10. It can take a little while to get used to the finer points of the controls. However, once you do get used to everything, it's like riding a bike.

Graphics: 8/10
I'm a big fan of the graphics in this game. They have a look that is heavily inspired by urban graffiti-style artwork. At first, I was annoyed by the fact that the various characters in the game are always only seen as still images, and never animated. But then I realized that you never see moving, animated graffiti, and, since the graphics style is based so heavily on that, I think the lack of movement works for the overall visual style.
I'll give the graphics an 8 out of 10. They're interesting and different, but not mind-blowing. They also worked very well for the very urban environment in which the game takes place.

Audio: 8/10
The music, a mix of hip-hop and dance music, worked very well with the graffiti-style visuals of the game. There wasn't a lot of voice acting to get in the way of everything else that was going on.
I'll give the audio an 8 out of 10. It added an ambience to the game that could have been missed entirely, if done wrong.

Overall Score: 7.75/10
At 7.75 out of a possible 10, The World Ends With You officially has the highest score I've ever given a Square-Enix game. The plot kept me guessing. The audio and video all made for a very consistent package. The controls actually made use of the DS's one unique feature. See, game developers? It really doesn't take much to make me happy!

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