What to say about The World Ends With You? A bizarre title for a bizarre game. Quintessentially Japanese, this RPG will leave some Square Enix fans running for the hills and others captivated by its cool, modern aesthetic.
TWEWY (possibly the greatest videogame acronym ever, ahead of LOTR:BFME2 ROTWK and PJKKOGM), is initially bewildering. The combat system seems impossible for a human being to cope with and the complex 'Pin' system and 'Psyche' ability make the game harder to grasp than a quantum mechanics lecture. This is the bit where we're supposed to tell you it gets easier the more you play it, but it doesn't really. It's always mind-bogglingly bamboozling from start to finish.
You play Neku, a Japanese teenager with a chip on his shoulder. He finds himself in modern-day Shibuya, one of Tokyo's trendiest, busiest districts, with no idea how or why he got there. He soon learns that he's been sucked into a parallel dimension life or death game that feels like The Matrix blended with Battle Royale. The game is run by the Reapers, a mysterious group who use monsters called Noise to try to 'erase' the players of the game. Neku and a group of other teenage players have to complete daily missions, sent to their mobile phones, to prevent themselves from being erased and winning the game. Not your run of the mill save the world stuff eh?
It's classic Square Enix - a narky young hero goes on a voyage of discovery and ends up shifting his teenage angst. This, once again, will please or annoy. The tone is, accordingly, quite juvenile. Japanese teenagers are obviously extremely polite. Quite what Neku and co would think of the top of the 159 bus once school kicks out I dread to think.
Gameplay wise, the game throws so much information at you in such a short space of time that it's hard to know what's going on. Firstly we're introduced to the Psyche ability, which allows players to scan an area and see what Shibuya's residents are thinking, as well as spot roaming Noise. The Noise are floating about and can be touched with the stylus to initiate a battle. But the Psyche ability doesn't stop there. Later on you'll be able to imprint thoughts into other people's minds in order to solve puzzles and progress the story.
Fighting, and indeed much of TWEWY, revolves around pins, which grant Neku special abilities once equipped. They might be different attacks, for example a multiple slice, or a protective shield, triggered by drawing a circle with the stylus. When Noise are defeated they drop pins. One of the game's great motivations is levelling up the pins you've already got, discovering new ones and, in true Pokemon style, collecting 'em all.