Game Review #226: The World Next Door (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Rose City Games
Publisher: VIZ Media
Category: Action, Puzzle, Adventure
Release Date: 03.28.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy The World Next Door from the eShop here.
Time For Something A Little Different
With so many games hitting the eShop each week, I’m always looking for something a little different to shake things up a bit. When I heard that Viz Media, the anime and manga publisher, was publishing their first game that was heavily inspired by anime, I was very excited to try it out. That game is The World Next Door, which is developed by Portland-based Rose City Games, and has characters designed by artist Lord Gris. The game feels like three games in one, as it puts a spin on the visual novel with added features of gameplay, like match three, rune-like puzzler, and action RPG.
In The World Next Door, you play as Jun, a human teenager who's visits the land of Emrys, a parallel world connected to Earth via a magical portal that opens up for several days every 20 years. While Jun is enjoying her trip to Emrys, things suddenly take a dark turn when she fails to return to the portal before it closes, as humans can only last a few days in Emrys before they die.
Jun teams up with her friend Liza, an Emrys native, to figure out how to reopen the portal and get home before things turn fatal. They enlist the help of a few of Liza's friends, which slowly grows to a fellowship of seven on this journey through Emrys.
Triple Layer Gameplay Surprise
Playing as Jun, a young girl who wears a fox mask for the game’s entire run, you will largely be playing a visual novel where you will go through the story and choose how to answer questions and how to react to certain situations, making it a choose-your-adventure-style experience. This aspect of the game is very strong, in my opinion, because the writing is done so well, making most of the interactions feel organic and funny.
The story overall is strong and done very well, but they did throw in some side quests to keep you busy or add filler. They didn’t really add to the overall experience for me, but they weren’t a complete waste either. These side quests had me running off looking for a hat, lip gloss, and someone’s lost manga volume, but they can also be skipped, and it won’t hurt your overall story arc. In saying that, even though the writing is done so well, I never really felt that the characters grew a substantial amount by the end, though I was still pulling for them, since I did grow closer to them. You have a cell phone and will receive messages throughout the game. For example, Liza will text you and let you know she has information and will ask you to meet her on the training field. This really tends to break up the visual novel aspect and makes the game flow so well.
The other half of the game is an action RPG with a battle system that uses match three and more to defeat enemies. When you begin to dungeon crawl you will run into baddies, and when the battle starts, you’ll notice the stone tiles will light up different colors: purple, blue, yellow, green, red, and white. Each color matches to a certain hieroglyphic image that look like lightning, hearts, fireballs, and more. When the battle begins, your enemies will chase after you, attempting to hit you as you run around the area trying to avoid being attacked, all while matching the tiles in the correct order. When you do, it will release a magical spell. Match 3 or more green and it will heal you, match 3 or more red and it will send a fireball careening towards the monster’s melon.
You must be very tactical, as some spells will be projectiles, but some will be close range, requiring you to lure the enemies in. Obviously, the more you can match, the higher the hit points will be. I never really had and trouble during matches, as I found it was always fairly easy to heal. Plus, after matches, you can always find these green healing wells that will also heal you, so I never really felt that I was in danger of dying.
The battles still were fun and left me always excited to jump into the next match, as each time I had so much fun. The monsters will chase you around, adding a layer of difficulty to matching the tiles, and making it far more than a simple puzzler. You have a very sweet dash move you can use that will send Jun rushing out of danger like a ninja. This was a very smart mechanic to add to the controls, as it keeps things moving and doesn’t make the gameplay feel slow or stale—though the AI isn’t a master class, and you can easily manipulate them to do what you want as they just straight chase you during battles. The boss battles do get a special nod, as I had a lot of fun with those especially. I also had a lot of fun just walking around exploring the magical world, which lead me to enjoy the side quests.
Audio & Visuals
The sounds during battle are pretty rewarding as you hear the lighting crackle through an enemy, or a purple energy ball smash into them. The soundtrack is a low-key, Lo-fi type music that I enjoyed, as it felt like it matched the laid back vibe of the game.
The character art design is done so well! I loved the characters—and I mean every single character! Each one was different and had their own individual look. The world itself was designed well, and with the art being so gorgeous, I had a blast running around Emrys looking at everything!
It’s A Wrap!!!
The way the developers blended multiple game genres into one game was done amazingly well. Normally when playing a visual novel, the game has to have impeccable writing to really keep my interest, but with the breaking up of the interactions to allow for exploration and battles, it made the game come together really well, and I can’t say enough about the beautiful art design! If you’re a fan of visual novels, or want to try something new, I can easily recommend trying The World Next Door.
Buy The World Next Door from the eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by VIZ