Our Score: 8.5/10
World’s End Club is a very fun platforming game with visual novel elements. It is a collaboration between Danganronpa’s Kazutaka Kodaka and Zero Escape’s Kotaro Uchikoshi. As well, this game features great character designs from Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Takegarou, who did the gym leader designs for that title.
It was originally released on the Apple Arcade on the iOS platform; however, the game was incomplete and its ending was left on a cliffhanger. The Switch release of this game that we’re reviewing contains the original release as well as the continuation which leads to the game’s true ending.
When we first popped in the game, we were surprised by the game’s introduction. The premise of this game is very similar to the Danganronpa 3 anime, in the sense that there’s a killing game, but the main cast of characters participating in it have to meet certain conditions to win (but with no class trials on who the murderer is like in the Danganronpa video games).
There’s also a 1 hour time limit the game has that keeps counting down, but don’t worry, the game is far, far longer than 1 hour long (it took us 18 hours to get through all routes of the game to the true ending).
We had a laugh early on watching characters who look like they’re straight out of a Pokemon game murdering each other in a killing game, but don’t judge the characters based on their designs, a lot of them are extremely nuanced and there is surprising amount of detail in the characters described in their backstories. In fact, we’d go as far to say that the character interactions would be one of the best reasons for going through this title.
To put it simply without spoiling, the game’s premise is actually false and so are the character interactions in the beginning. The storyline that follows afterwards is extremely different and is more of a coming-of-age story with the cast of characters. The plot of this game really reminded us of the Stephen King book Stand by Me, where dissimilar characters take a long road-trip together, except for the fact that this game is featured in Japan with Japanese landmarks and culture instead of American ones.
The fake murder-game premise of the game attempts to make light-hearted fun of the kind of content you’d see in Danganronpa and Zero Escape. If you’re tired of Danganronpa-style games that has characters killing each other, classroom trials, or even if you want to try a new type of game where the scope of the game is more focused on exploring Japan and learning about a cast of unique characters, this is definitely the game for you.
If you’re don’t feel impressed by the first hour of gameplay; don’t worry, we’d strongly encourage you to stick through it because the rest of the game will be extremely different, in terms of tone, setting, and character interaction.
The cutscenes have 3D models most of the time, and also has many CG illustrations showing important scenes in the game. Most of the game features visual novel style cutscenes, but interestingly almost every single line of the game has voiced dialogue, all voiced by the professional voice actors you’d see in these kinds of games.
We were extremely surprised by this because most games, especially games on a budget of this scale cannot afford to have every single line of dialogue to be voiced, and usually you’d see only the important storyline scenes have voice acting. Even Danganronpa had most of its voice acting only in its classroom trials and for the important scenes only. The game has some optional content, such as talking to characters individually at campfires, and yet all of it is still voiced.
To break up the visual novel elements, you have action scene stages, where the game is a platformer. In these levels, you will typically interact with items such as boxes or switches to solve easy puzzles, and sometimes you’d be jumping across pits and spikes.
Each character has a different special ability, and sometimes you’d use these abilities to defeat enemies and bosses scattered throughout the level. As well, there are collectibles found within the game in the form of stickers to encourage exploration and game completion. For example, one of the first abilities you are introduced to is Reycho’s throwing ability. This is used to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and find collectible stickers such as by knocking down a sign that sticks out.
As you’d expect in a game made from a developer who worked on Zero Escape, there are certainly many twists in the game that shocked us! There are many routes to explore in the game, which are very clearly marked by decisions you make over the course of the game. The best part of this game is that there’s no convoluted choices needed to get the true ending. As well, the routes are extremely different and are very worth playing through, and you’ll see character development you wouldn’t see on other routes.
You’re encouraged to explore through all routes to get to the true ending, and you’ll pick up key items represented by a star icon on the stage select screen. As well, there are many puzzles such as entering passwords. Sometimes we’d skim through the dialogue, but thankfully the hints contained in the game as well as being able to check the conversation backlog allowed us to easily complete the puzzles with no outside help.
The game is very fun to play on the Switch if you want to relax in bed or lie down on a couch. Sometimes we were even able to play the game while eating! The lengthy visual novels are relaxing to listen to and the game has an auto-advance option to automatically advance the characters’ lines of dialog as they go through them. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. The problem is that there’s a text speed option as well, and it doesn’t match up the auto-advance option. When a line of dialogue is voiced in the game, there’s a message speed which is the speed that the text is displayed at, and there’s also the actual amount of time the line of dialogue is voiced.
The game actually skips the voice line if the line of text is displayed too quickly, which is extremely unfortunate. So for characters that speak slowly in the game, such as the antagonist, you will often get a few words cut off from their dialogue for each line they voice. We really enjoyed relaxing and listening to the game on the Switch without fumbling around pressing buttons, but it was terrible for lines getting cut-off. Even changing the message speed to medium wasn’t helping because some lines of dialogue were voiced too slowly during certain scenes. It may be possible to fix this in the future with a patch, and it’s certainly not game-breaking albeit an inconvenience.
The soundtrack was good for its non-vocal tracks, but unfortunately the songs translated in English didn’t sound too pleasing to us and had very simple lyrics. The songs would definitely be great for kids to listen and dance to, though!
Some of the puzzles didn’t translate the best for us either; for example, one puzzle in the game has XxY, or the letter X times the letter Y. We didn’t think that was a good decision because the distinction between the letter X and the multiplication sign is not obvious especially on a handwritten note in the game that was used for the puzzle. We were able to solve it with the game’s generous hints though, but it took us a little bit of time because we kept thinking we had to square the X (we read it as X times X times Y, we assumed there was multiplication between separate letters).
Still, the light-hearted nature of the game was fun and the dialogue was great as well, with many dissimilar characters playing off of each other well and many kinds of romances and drama you wouldn’t expect!
Overall, it’s a very interesting new IP and it’s very fun to play through if you enjoy visual novels, especially if you’re a fan of Danganronpa and Zero Escape. Even if you already played the iOS version, the developers have publicly stated that this Switch release actually has the true ending of the game.
Comparing both versions, this is true, and the game continues for another 3 or so hours past the ending of the iOS version. The true ending is very worth it and definitely ends all loose plotlines that the original release didn’t address. In fact, if you were given the choice to buy the iOS version and the Switch version of this title, we’d strongly recommend you buy the Switch release because the iOS version doesn’t end the plot well at all.
It’s a very comfy coming-of-age game with amazing voiced character dialogue and all of the kind twists you’d expect from a game worked on by Kotaro Uchikoshi. This game certainly stands out on its own within the group of similar games such as Danganronpa, Zero Escape, and AI: The Somnium Files. It’s very easy to get into, the platforming aspect of the game is extremely accessible, and the hints are very handy to get through puzzles that may stump you. We’d just like to see the auto-advance dialog option fixed!