NEO: The World Ends with You, known in Japan as NEO: It's a Wonderful World (新すばらしきこのせかい Shin Subarashiki Kono Sekai), is the second game in The World Ends with You franchise and acts as a sequel to The World Ends with You.
It is developed by Square Enix and co-developed by h.a.n.d. It was released on July 27th, 2021 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. It will launch Summer 2021 for PC exclusively on the Epic Games Store.
The story is focused on a teenager named Rindo Kanade and his friend Fret who are forced to participate in a mysterious deadly game called the Reapers' Game in which they will die by being erased from existence if they do not complete daily missions. Along the way, they encounter other Players trying to survive in frantic team versus team action.
Environments in the game are now rendered in cel-shaded 3D, although the game features 2D artwork such as character portraits.
Scanning returns and functions much like it did originally. Upon going near a Noise while scanning, they will begin to chase Rindo and initiate a battle. Noise battles can be chained as in the previous game for greater rewards, although it is necessary to move Rindo to the locations of the Noise within a limited time, rather than simply tapping them as in the original. Imprinting and memes return, although they are no longer called "memes" and are now known as "keywords". Unlike the original, the player must string together two words to progress.
Each character also has a separate ability to be used in Exploration mode, which will usually modify the ongoing story or provide access to a new area to explore or a new combat. Of particular note is Rindo's ability Replay to travel in time, which is often used to go back and modify events that happened on an earlier playthrough of a day. Previous points in time become visitable destinations and can be revisited as many times as necessary; travelling to a time that was previously visited does not undo what you have done there before.
The Scramble Slam is a citywide turf war that has teams of Players vying for control of areas in Shibuya. An area can be claimed by erasing the orange Turf Noise or taking down the rival team members in an area. There are three Scramble Slams in the game. They do not play as actual tactical area control games, but as story devices; however, during a Scramble Slam an additional scoring mechanism is added to combat.
Combat is changed completely and is now a 3D third-person melee-based subgame. There is no parallel dimension in which partners operate. The player's choice of partner does not alter the game mechanic, and there is no concept of the puck. There is also no sync rate. Instead, the game uses a team of between two and six characters; the number changes at different points in the story. Each character has access to a variety of psychs but can only equip one at a time. Each psych is associated with a particular controller button. Pressing each character's corresponding button causes them to switch places with the previously controlled character, move into range to use their psych, and activate it. It is possible to press several buttons at once to launch attacks simultaneously or to charge one attack while executing another. It is not optimal to always hit every attack button at once due to the beatdrop system described below.
Similarly to the original game, the player has access to a variety of psychs, all of which are new. As in the original game, pins have a limited number of uses before they briefly shut down to "reboot", although unlike the original, pins now boot instantly at the start of battles. Just like health was shared between partners in the original game, health is shared between the team. Characters not controlled by the player fight under AI control, although if the player stops attacking to avoid an enemy's area attack the AI characters will do so too. This is often necessary, as the AI characters take equal damage to the controlled character.
As in the previous game, it is possible to customize combat extensively by chaining noise encounters, choosing the difficulty level, and voluntarily lowering the party's character level to increase the difficulty of battles. There are four difficulty levels, which are unlocked via the Social Network; Easy, Medium, Hard, and Ultimate (corresponding to the Japanese version of the original, rather than the "Face the Noise.." names used in the original's English translation).
Each pin has a "beatdrop" condition shown in the Pins menu; when this is met, an indicator saying 'DROP THE BEAT!' will appear. Attacking that enemy with a different character will change the indicator to "SICK!" and raise the party's Groove level by 15%. The indicator will remain until a different character attacks, the timer runs out, or another enemy is attacked. The Groove level drops over time if it is not raised. Since the new character's pin will also have a beatdrop condition, it is possible to chain beat drops by having characters take turns attacking an enemy. The character attacking to drop the beat only needs to be a different one from the character that triggered the beatdrop condition; they do not have to be one who has not attacked before in the current chain, so it is possible to repeatedly swap between two characters.
When the Groove level reaches 100%, a super move can be activated which briefly adds ongoing damage to the environment centered on the current target at the time, and applies a temporary multiplier to all characters' attack stats. The type of super move activated is based on the Affinity of the character who is currently being controlled (which is usually the one who most recently attacked). Super moves can Drop the Beat from other moves, and can have Beatdrops themselves.
Later in the game, extra powered super moves (Mashup and Killer Remix) are added when Groove reaches 200% or 300%. The 200% move, Mashup, is a more powerful version of the 100% one and works in the same way. The 300% move, Killer Remix, instead interrupts the fight entirely and moves the characters into the sky where their only available move is to fire lasers at opponents which deal significant damage; this move also heals the team as it ends.
Combat can occur against other teams of Players as well as Noise. The battles proceed in a similar way to Noise battles although in-character the defeated teams are not Erased.
Pins are collected from combat and leveled as in the previous game, although only active Pin Points are available, and thus there is only one evolution option for each pin. Since each character in the party can only equip a single pin, it is not possible to equip pins that do not directly provide attacks; so you cannot (for example) give up pin slots temporarily in order to evolve Yen pins.
Clothes grant a bonus to stats and potentially a special ability. The Bravery score of the first game is replaced by Style. Characters can wear any clothing item and gain its stat bonus regardless of their Style level, but they do not gain the special ability if their Style does not meet the level required by the clothing. There are no gender-based adjustments to Style or Style requirements (as there were for Bravery in the first game), so any character can wear any item of clothing from the start of the game. This can result in situations where it is statistically optimal for a character to cross-dress. A character's selected clothes do not appear on their model in-game.
Stickers do not exist. Special abilities are gained via clothes or via the Social Network, a node graph-based advancement system where nodes are purchased using "friendship points", each giving a different ability or game feature. Nodes are unlocked by completing side quests during the game, and friendship points are gained by completing quests or Dive sections. It is important not to spend too much FP on rewards such as items and restaurant menus, as this only makes the post-game harder.
Characters can gain permanent stat modifiers by eating food, and the hunger meter works as it did in the previous game. All players on the team are required to eat at the same time, so a larger amount of money is required for each stat increment.
The option to return to earlier Days is made available early in the game (although the Ultimate difficulty, which would be a key reason to do so, is not available until completion). When returning to a previous day, the following rules apply:
- Returning to a previous day starts the day from the beginning. Returning to the day that is currently in progress starts from where you left off. Thus, you can replay previous days at no cost even before completing the game. There is no way to return to the beginning of the day in progress.
- The R2 button can be held to skip cut-scenes or fast-forward dialog.
- Unlike Replay, Rindo is not treated as time-travelling in character; the story plays out the same way it did before.
- The player's current team, level and pins are retained in full. This can even apply if it does not fit with the story; the player may be searching for a character while that character is in their team.
- Gained special abilities are also retained, so abilities like Soundsurf may be available on days when they previously weren't.
- Noise remain the same level they originally were. This means that they will be much easier to defeat unless the difficulty is raised or the effective player level lowered.
- The ability to defeat Plague Noise does not transfer back; the initial encounters with these Noise, where the Twisters have no way to fight back, remain impossible to win.
- Completing the Day brings the player back to the Chapter Select menu, not the next day.
Main article: NEO: The World Ends with You/Characters
The game is set three years after the first game.
The game opens with Fret inviting Rindo come see him at the 104 Building. However not long after, they find Reaper Pins and encounter a battle in Scramble Crossing. This leads to them becoming participants in the Reapers' Game. The Reapers' Game unfolds in the UG (Underground), a different dimension which bears a striking resemblance to the real world. The Players of the Game form teams and aim to complete missions set out by the Game Master, Shiba. The nature of these missions ranges from solving puzzles to defeating enemies known as Noise, and teams may even find themselves fighting their peers for control of Shibuya in citywide turf wars. Fret and Rindo encounter a young woman named Nagi and a young man named Sho Minamimoto, and the four form their group, the Wicked Twisters.
The Game lasts for seven days. It is said that the team who racks up the most points over the course of the week will have their wish granted—whatever it may be. The unlucky team who ends up in last, on the other hand, will die by being erased from existence. Will Rindo and the Wicked Twisters be able to band together and topple the other teams in this struggle for survival?
The Reapers' Game
The Reapers' Game in NEO has many differences from the original. They are described as the rules as originally played in Shinjuku.
- There is no mention of Entry Fees.
- Rather than competing in pairs, players can form teams of any size.
- It is not absolutely necessary to form a Pact or have a partner in order to fight Noise, although it is beneficial to work as a team.
- Rather than just surviving the 7 day game, teams must score points over the course of the game by completing missions. At the end of the game, the team with the lowest score is erased, the team with the highest score is able to choose a reward; and the remaining teams are required to play again. (The team with the highest score is allowed to choose to play again voluntarily if that is what they want.)
- Missions are usually to reveal and then erase a target. Whereas in the original game, it was necessary for some player to complete the mission to avoid everyone in the game being erased but this gave that particular player no advantage, in NEO the team that completes the mission and collects the pin indicating they have done so gains points for the final scoring.
- It appears from other parts of the plot that losing a fight to Noise in this version of the Reaper's Game does not result in immediate erasure, only in a disadvantage compared to other teams. However, the Wicked Twisters must effectively win every battle against Noise because the game of NEO:TWEWY ends if they lose.
- Players may engage other teams in battle, which do not result in erasure. Because of this, it seems that Harrier Reapers are less active in this version of the Game than in the previous one, acting more as referees than as proactive opponents.
- On the final day, rather than defeating the Game Master, players are given a chance to battle and defeat the team in first place in order to claim that place for themselves. However, any team that attempts this and loses forfeits all their points and thus moves into last place, guaranteeing that they will be erased. It's mentioned that it is extremely unusual for any team but the one that is already in last place to attempt the battle.
The music is composed by Takeharu Ishimoto like the first game. NEO contains many remixes of previous songs from the original game, and in one instance, the track "act the fool" is a remix of "turning" from The World Ends with You The Animation. For the first time in the series, screamo is now a genre and is present in some songs. The ending theme of the game is LITTLE THINGS by Stephanie Topalian. NEO: The World Ends with You Original Soundtrack was released on August 4th, 2021.
The developers wanted to create another game in the series for a long time, but they felt like they did not have a secure environment to make a realized game for quite a while. The team wanted to make "something totally new" rather than simply do what they had done with The World Ends with You and attach a different plot. New platforms had also come out (such as the 3DS, Wii U and Switch), changing the systems and tools they had to work with. Additionally, wrapping up the Xehanort Saga of the Kingdom Hearts series prevented the team from returning to The World Ends with You.
The game began full development in 2018 after the release of The World Ends with You Final Remix, although they started processing the sequel during the Solo Remix development period. The game is built on the Unity engine.
The game was first revealed on November 23, 2020 through a website that featured a seven day long countdown until the announcement. The countdown was almost identical to the Solo Remix reveal with the same evolving background and music. However with NEO's countdown, and older trailer would play everyday at midnight. On the final day, an image of Rindo's hand holding a phone appeared. The phone had a symbol that represented every letter of the word 'NEO' being layered over each other.
The game's name was chosen instead of TWEWY 2 because the team wanted it to be clearer that newcomers can begin playing NEO, although players of the original game and watchers of the anime would have bonuses and nods for them. The developers also wanted to emphasize it is a new story from the new cast.
NEO received generally positive reviews with a Metascore around 80. In comparison, the DS version of the first game had a Metascore in the high 80s. Its art style, music, combat and general gameplay was well-received, with a lot of complex customization for different builds. Gamer Escape's review mentioned, "It's not an instant classic, but I think fans of the original are going to really find stuff to like here. And if you’re like me and never played the original, you still owe it to yourself to give this one a solid look."
The game's writing and character building received some criticism. Polygon mentioned, "Sometimes, some of the characters do feel like the embodiment of archetypes and tropes... I felt like Neo: TWEWY desperately wants to get out of its own way and be its own game, but it simply can’t pull it off. Nearly everything in the game is a reference to its predecessor." IGN had similar complaints, saying "the new members of the cast have occasional moments of depth and development, but they never quite reach the heights of the arcs in the first game" and "I found myself disappointed that NEO leaned so heavily on the nostalgia I had for characters I loved as a teenager, and didn’t do more to embrace the new characters and stories I was excited to get invested in as an adult." RPGfan.com's review had concerns about some meandering dialog; "The dialogue hit me immediately: it's meaningless. Any good storytelling uses dialogue efficiently. It characterizes, pushes the plot forward, or entertains. Here, it does none of those. Most of the first several hours feel like a visual novel with Rindo and Fret bantering back and forth in painful confusion, jabbering on..." Gamerant's review felt, "It takes at least 10 hours of playing NEO: The World Ends With You before the story gets good."
NEO received some common complaints; characters can overuse battle quotes to the point of annoyance, with the player only being given the option to disable/lower voice volume, however, this applies to both battle voices and cutscenes. Not all cutscene dialog is voiced. Some missions, such as Rindo's time traveling and the Scramble Slams, were also found by many players to be a bit on the tedious side which overstayed their welcome.
Destructoid criticized the game for containing some questionable stereotypical LGBT-coding. A group of men use language like "kween", "let's go girls!" and "slay" and act like stereotypical gay fashionistas. While the game never explicitly says they are gay and they could be perceived as merely metrosexual heterosexual men, many players still found them jarring in the game's universe as they are used as battle fodder and the previous game was known for exploring its characters past their apparent stereotypes.
- A playable demo released on June 25, 2021. It allows players to play the first two days in the game, roughly two hours long in total, and save progress can be transferred to the final game. However, trophy progress must be obtained again, and there are no bonuses for completing the demo.
- On July 16, 2021, Nintendo accidentally released the game 11 days early, making spoilers for the game run rampant. Those who pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch version on Square Enix's American store got activation codes for a digital Switch version leaked to them. This was due to an error on Nintendo's side since the code provided by Square Enix was intended to grant access to add-on content for those who pre-ordered the physical version on Square's site (instead of the full game). Square Enix rectified the situation by halting pre-orders and providing updated codes.
- Many pins from the original game can be seen on display for sale in Shibuya.
- The game is around 9.5GB in size on the PS4, after its day one patch.
- The game features dual audio for the first time in the series, allowing players to choose between English or Japanese dubs.
- On the US PlayStation Store Page for the game, there are pre-order bonuses listed. These include:
- Avatar Set (Available for download on July 27th, 2021/Available for purchase until July 26th, 2021 at 11:59 PM)
- Legendary Threads Set (Available for download on July 27th, 2021/Available for purchase until July 26th, 2021 at 11:59 PM)
- In an interview, Nomura once said that NEO is a sequel to the anime, making fans wonder if this meant the original game was no longer canon in the continuity NEO is set in. However, he later clarified it's also a sequel to the game, and he simply said it was a sequel to the anime thinking it was equivalent.