World's End Club - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Who it Caters to
There are thousands of game creators around the world, some more famous than others. There are those who become popular because of their social skills and charming personalities and those who owe their fame to their video games; today, we're reviewing a title directed by Kazutaka Kodaka (originator of the Danganronpa series), Kotaro Uchikoshi (the man behind Zero Escape), and Takumi Nakazawa (who co-created the Infinity series with Uchikoshi), and that should give you an idea of what the game is about.
If you like escape video games and dark humor, then you might enjoy World's End Club. Still, this is not exactly an escape game as it's a mix of several genres and gameplay mechanics. Also, note that World's End Club features a group of kids, so it really doesn't just target a more mature audience—as long as they are accompanied by an adult, children will be fine.
What to Expect
World's End Club combines the tone of an escape game with a lot of 2D platforming and a visual novel-like narrative. We'll talk more about the gameplay later, but the platforming segments in World's End Club are pretty simple, so don't come here looking for a challenge. The first part of the game is actually a death game, but then it transforms into something else while sticking to that dark, mysterious atmosphere. Again, this is a colorful game with a cast of pre-teens, so it's not like you'll feel the pressure of knowing there's a traitor in your group or something like that.
World's End Club borrows a lot from visual novels, not just the storytelling style, so it's not surprising that it features several cutscenes and images that look straight out of an anime. In fact, all characters in the Go-Getters Club (the protagonist society) sport weird and colorful haircuts, so they could very well be part of the Pokémon series. We have our grips with other aspects of the game, more on that later, but although it took us some time to get used to it, we like World's End Club's character design. Another thing we could highlight is the level of detail when it comes to the backgrounds, which helps to disguise the shallow gameplay. All in all, this Nintendo Switch version looks nice; remember World's End Club first launched as a mobile game!
Although Reycho, the main protagonist, is a silent character, most dialogues are fully voiced (English and Japanese VO available), something we always appreciate in this kind of game. That's important when you have a dozen protagonist characters with different personalities and interests; text-only VNs are fine, but giving each person a voice makes a big difference. Although we like the interaction between characters, we must say the script does not favor the dialogues, making some sequences feel a bit off and cringey. Speaking of things we didn't enjoy, there's also the generic, forgettable soundtrack. It's not horrible, it's there to help build an atmosphere and nothing more, but we'd be lying if we say that the music in World's End Club stands out from other elements of the game.
It's July 13, 1995. A group of 11 youngsters is traveling by bus to Kamakura in what should be just another school field trip if it wasn't for a meteorite suddenly impacting a nearby city and destroying everything in the area. They all should be dead... right? With a beautifully animated scene, that's how World's End Club starts—although, weirdly enough, that's not the first thing we get to see. The game actually begins with 4 of the kids being trapped in a place that looks like a generic digital world, and here's where we discover World's End Club is a platforming game. Once they reunite with their friends, the group faces a giant disembodied enemy... and they all die—yes, again. The Go-Getters Club, as they call themselves, is obliterated by this nameless monster, but at least we get to learn something: they never had a chance against it since they were not "awakened."
Don't worry, that's not the end of the Go-Getters Club! A few seconds later, we're back on the bus to relive the meteorite event. This time, however, they wake up in an underwater amusement park with little to no recollection of what happened to them. As they try to find an explanation, a floating humanoid being shows up, informing the kids they're trapped and forcing them to play a "Game of Fate."
As you can see, World's End Club seems to feature a dark, convoluted premise, but there's more than meets the eye. Sadly, this Game of Fate is not what a fan of Zero Escape or Danganronpa would imagine—although it definitely feels like a death game, and this section only lasts half an hour or so. Once the Game of Fate ends, World's End Club turns into a poorly written visual novel with unnecessary 2D platforming sequences and the easiest puzzles you can imagine.
The platforming segments are hard, but not because they are challenging and well-designed; they're difficult because of how clunky the controls are... and that's a lot to say considering World's End Club has the most basic platforming mechanics. Prepare to die a lot! The thing is, these segments should be taken as a complement to the narrative, but they totally distract you from the story with uninteresting minigames and quick-time events, making you feel like you don't even know how to play. To make thing's worse, we were expecting a high-quality plot given who the people behind this game are—okay, that's on our part. Sadly, there's nothing unique or captivating about World's End Club story, so it never really compensates for the subpar mechanics.
Sure, there are a lot of unexpected twists and all, but it just doesn't click. Some will say it's childish, some will say it's too predictable, and others will say it's too ambitious for an experimental game that's not a pure visual novel. Be it as it may, we're sure a lot of you will find the plot engaging, especially those looking for a laid-back version of the Zero Escape or Danganronpa formula. World's End Club is not exactly that, but it could very well be the entry point to the fantastic world of escape visual novels.
Reycho is the main character, but as the story progresses, we get to control the rest of the kids, too. Remember when we talked about being "awakened"? Well, all these kids in the Go-Getters Club have unique abilities; they just don't know that yet! With their newly discovered powers, they will help you out of some dangerous situations, throwing bombs at your enemies, transforming into a rock, hitting things with a baseball bat, etc. Some characters are more useful than others, but it's nice to see all of them get their 15 seconds of fame.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
If you ask us, the story would have worked better if it was a pure visual novel, with better dialogue and more time for things to develop. We're fans of visual novels where you actually must to do something other than reading, but this experiment with 2D platforming didn't go well. All that being said, you can still enjoy World's End Club for what it is, taking the time to explore the symbolism and hidden references. If you want to see all endings and fully understand the story, you'll have to play it more than once!
The cutscenes are gorgeously colored and animated.
It's an okay games if you're not too demanding. Just forget who the creators are.
A predictable story, with one-dimensional characters and poorly-written dialogues.
Why is it even a 2D platformer??!
Honey's Final Verdict:
World's End Club is not the game all fans of Zero Escape and Danganronpa were expecting, that's for sure, but there are some things to like about it. Still, we can't but feel cheated after the "Game of Fate" portion (the resolution is poor, too) and how it wants us to believe it's a death game... Not cool, guys!
If you're okay with a simple story about a bunch of kids traveling through an apocalyptic city and fighting mysterious evil foes, try World's End Club, now available on the Nintendo Switch.
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...