Over the years visual novels have grown fairly popular in the West to the point that they have even begun releasing on consoles. Some of these tend to be series that have already seen success on other platforms but now there are some that release flat out on consoles in the West such as Our World is Ended. Releasing on the Switch, whose handy portable mode and removable Joy-con make for easy play in almost any position which is already a bonus for visual novels, is Our World is Ended worth picking up?
To those around the city it may appear to be some strange performance but Our World is Ended begins with Reiji Gozen wearing a completely enclosed AR headset in the middle of a busy street. Alongside the airheaded Yuno he is set to test out a new product being developed by his boss Owari. Working as the newest part-timer for the game development team known as Judgement 7 this awkward task fell to Reiji and after a few embarrassing phrases and poses, things seem to be going well s Owari projects bikini photos onto billboards and even changes Yuno’s clothing to a school swimsuit.
During one of these tests the system seems to shut itself down entirely only to reboot and show that the entire area has fallen to ruin and his friends are now hanging lifeless from a nearby building. With only a cryptic warning from a mysterious girl Reiji returns to the normal world where no one seems to have noticed any changes outside of the system crash. Originally attributed to heatstroke, Judgement 7 continues their day by starting a flame war with others online who found their most recent game lackluster. In an effort to capture their original success Owari suggests that the next game they develop make full use of augmented reality but it doesn’t take long before the rest of the development team begin to find themselves experiencing a phenomenon that only grows stranger as time progresses and with a possible destruction in their future, it is up to Reiji and the rest to solve this mystery.
The best part of a visual novel is when it manages to convey both an intriguing storyline as well as offer readers a great cast of characters that they can learn more about and enjoy over the course of the game. In more than a few ways Our World is Ended manages to pull that off but it also falters in both of these areas. Perhaps the biggest issue happens to be that this game suffers from a serious lack of focus when it comes to actually delivering the main plot, which on its own is a fairly solid sci-fi thriller with a unique cast of characters. While it makes sense that players should spend time meeting with and learning about the various members of Judgement 7, the majority of the group and the initial problem are introduced fairly quickly at the beginning of the game and then the actual development of the core plot falls to the wayside to then focus more on the cast of characters. This normally wouldn’t be too much of an issue but because the game spends so much time trying to focus on everything but the core plot there ends up being various rushed developments and twists to the story that easily could have been expanded upon a bit more rather than leave players with a messy feeling experience.
On the other side of things Our World is Ended offers such an eccentric cast of characters for its main cast that it is hard not to be at least a little charmed by the group, even if it is to see just how insane some of them can be at times. Reiji serves as the player’s view point and being the newest member of Judgement 7 he is also on the bottom rung of the group’s ladder though even if he were a bit more respected it is unlikely the cast would act much differently around him. Generally when a cast of characters are introduced they tend to fall into certain molds and eventually break out of them over the course of the game as the story develops and we learn more about them and while it is true that title Our World is Ended does that fairly well for most of its cast, it also features some of the most extreme examples of these character stylings you can find. Whether it is the air-headed girl, the one concerned about her flat-chest who is always called “saddening” by everyone, a massive pervert that freely says whatever he feels, a grandiose otaku that mixes English wording into his dialogue to sound cool, or a cold artistic type, or a genius youngster this title has it all and takes them to such a high level at times players will end up feeling rather shocked at times.
This does create something of a cyclone of character moments as players see these huge personalities clash together continuously throughout the game. In fact, the only way that this visual novel often can get away with spending so much time away from the core story is thanks to how quirky these characters actually are. It really helps draw the player into learning more about them and seeing their developments over the course of the game. That being said, if you aren’t a fan of fan-service jokes and crude humor in general than this may not be the game for you as most of the humor comes in that form. Thankfully those who enjoy it will find that there are plenty of perverted jokes and more to be found filled throughout the game’s lengthy story. This leads us to a visual novel that has issues holding a proper tone at times since it rarely feels like even the most serious situations are actually that dire since the humor can often be inserted in some rather poorly chosen places.
It is interesting to note that while the “common route” for Our World is Ended is extremely long, the game will deviate at points depending on what character you’ve happened to favor the most over the course of the game, bringing players towards several different endings that are later viewable on the game’s main menu with replays offering players the chance to aim for different endings.
For the most part Our World is Ended plays similar to many other visual novels as players will spend most of their time listening/reading the story as it progresses. It is interesting to note that the game is very generous with its save system as players can easily tap one shoulder button to create a quick save and then load that save at the tap of the other shoulder button. While players can make standard save files, this method works best when players are presented with a choice and they want to make sure they make the one best fitting the ending they are aiming for.
There are two types of choices in the game, a standard one where a few options are presented and there is an unlimited amount of time to select between them and a “Selection of Soul” system that is far more limited. This system features a number of dialogue choices that will quickly scroll across the screen similar to a Japanese video site and players will need to select from one of these options though being silent is also an option. Interestingly enough, players can even keep an eye on what character path they may be leaning towards as the game shows which three characters currently like Reiji the most. Since players will want to replay to see various endings, this system is quite useful and a great way to avoid wasting time should you mess up a choice.
Visuals & Audio
One of the first things players will notice when playing Our World is Ended is just how gorgeous the game can be at times. The art style features vibrant colors that bring the world to life and the highly detailed character portraits are a real treat even with their limited animations. In fact, even the static backgrounds are varied and detailed enough that they fit the game world perfectly and help provide a lot of life to the game, especially during a number of the crossover scenes. This art style especially shines whenever a CG is presented to the players though it is worth noting that while there is plenty of fan service, there is no actual nudity in this game though it does push the limits a bit.
The voice acting also happens to be quite phenomenal at times as players will really feel like the voice actors did their best to bring these absurdly eccentric characters to life. The game only features a Japanese voice track and while the localization does a fine enough job with most elements in the game, there are a few wording errors and misspelled words throughout the game that, while not a big issue, are noticeable.
Players will find that while the Our World is Ended’s story may have issues focusing, the eccentric cast of characters do a solid enough job holding things together. That being said, even for someone like myself who enjoys some raunchy humor this game does tend to take things a bit far and struggles to hold its tone at times so even dire situations often feel like they aren’t handled with enough weight as needed. As such the story found in this visual novel may not end up being as serious as one may expect given its name and initial presentation of doomsday but with gorgeous character designs and CG artwork accompanying a well voiced cast of characters, those looking for a visual novel that is a bit different from others will find that this one may just fit the bill.