I've played so many RPGs that have dissapointed and bored me to death, but this one is really special.
Fantastic and deep action-based battle system
Tons of pins and clothes to collect and look out for
You have the option to make the game incredibly challenging and are rewarded for doing so
Story and dialogue are usually engaging and have some really memorable moments
Trend system isn't well implemented
Some stretches of the story are boring and tedious
Could have used a greater variety of touch screen commands in order to prevent doubling
Similarly, the combinations of attacks from pins is limited because you have to avoid having more than one with the same touch screen command
I'm normally not a big fan of the action RPG genre. Sometimes these games walk the fence and are not really an action game or an RPG which makes me just wish they made it an action game only. But, The World Ends With You was different. Though I could not get into it at first, it grew on me and became on of my favorite games to date.
So, let me summarize what the game is about briefly. The story puts you in the place of Neku, a rebellious teenager mysteriously placed in a game that forces him to team up with another player and carry out missions for the game moderators, the reapers. Half of the time you will be exploring the overworld (a city called Shibuya), talking to characters and visiting various shops and points of interest, and the rest you will be fighting monsters called noise. The battle system is really what makes the game great so I will explain this first
The battle system may seem complicated at first, and I suppose it can be but I find that this is a good thing. You will be fighting noise on both screens, the bottom screen shows Neku and is controlled with the touch screen and the top screen shows his partner which is controlled with the d-pad. On the bottom screen, you have up to 6 attacks at your disposal which you gain through the form of pins. Most of the time you get pins by beating a certain monster at a certain difficulty but a few are found in the stores. The attacks of these pins are varied and visually flashy. As mentioned the downside to the bottomscreen battling is the fact that you'll have to pick 6 attacks that all have different touch screen commands which can be difficult at times. However, the battles can become an unexplainable joy once you get a good set of attacks. The top screen is a little simpler since it is only conrolled using the d-pad. The game will show a map of arrow combinations that tell you what d-pad patterns you need to press to achieve one of three results. In truth, you could just push one directions on the d-pad repeatedly and still do damage, but each character has his/her own system that lets you strategically place your attacks in order to increase Neku and the partner's fusion level. In other words, strategically placing attacks can eventually award you with superpowered fusion moves. The game also encourages you to rapidly switch between attacking on the top screen and attacking on the bottom screen. There's this thing called the puck that is passed to the opposite partner every time the first partner finishes a move or a combo. The game rewards you with multiplied damage if you deliver a combo finisher immediately when a partner receives the puck. It may sound complicated at first but trust me, eventually you will understand it and the complexity of it is what gives it its lasting value. The challenge of controlling both screens at once while also trying to gain the added bonuses of fusion attacks and damage multipliers is one that takes a while to achieve consistently but also makes the battle system so engaging
There are few other notable gameplay systems in the game. One is the clothing system. Ignoring the trend system for the moment, clothing is similar to any armor/clothing system in any other rpg. There is a huge variety of attire to purchase each with its own attack stat boost, defense stat boost, and special ability. There is also a unique food system, which allows you to gain permanent stat increases by giving a character a certain food item and then fighting a certain number of battles to give the character "time to digest the food." Before gaining a rare item at the end of the game, you will be limited to a certain number of food units or (bites) to spend during a real-time day. I actually liked this system compared to those of classic rpgs because it basically forces you not to level grind, but instead spread your character developement over a longer period of time. Finally, there is the trend system. Each pin and clothing item has a brand. In each area of the world, you will be able to view the top brands in each area, and if you use pins of the top brand, you will get an attack boost. The problem is that there is no real point in gaining a huge variety of brands of pins in order to be able to switch to the popular brand each time you reach a new area. If you use a certain brand of clothing or pin a lot, after a few battles that brand will rise to the top anyway. The only strategy and depth the trend system adds to the game is it encourages you to use a lot of pins of the same brand in order to quickly change the top brand of each area and for nearly all your attacks to get boosts. The final gameplay element worth mentioning is the ability to change your level on the fly. Your characters do level up in TWEWY, but only there HP is upgraded. You have the choice to change your characters to any lower level with the reward of higher chance of better and rarer pins dropping from the noise you fight. It is a great risk reward system that goes a long way to adding depth and challenge to the gameplay.
The story of the game will charge you with many tasks but most of them will either involve fighting noise or talking to and interrogating certain characters. Overall, the missions revolving around the story are fun to carry out even if there are a few spans of time in the game that may bore you.
Overall, it is the battle system that makes the game great. It is challenging and exciting and just really outdoes any other action RPG I've played in depth. I can never guarantee anyone that they will like any game, especially this one. It is a unique experience that I wasn't sure I would like at first, but it grew on me and became a personal favorite, and perhaps it will for you as well.