Neo: The World Ends With You Demo Gives Me Hope

When Square Enix announced Neo: The World Ends With You I was pretty surprised. Sure, it seemed like a sequel to the original game was inevitable after the 2018 Nintendo Switch port included a new expansion, but even then it’s still super awesome to see. As a pleasant surprise, Square Enix launched a demo of the game a month before it releases. I was wondering how the game could be updated for modern times, and it seems like my answer is “very well.”

Taking place in the modern-day Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan, you play as Rindo and his friend Fret. The two find themselves in the mysterious Reaper’s Game with no clue how they got there. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out the basic details: if they’re in the Reaper’s Game that means they’re dead, although as to what actually killed them they’re not sure. The good news: should they win the game they’ll get a single wish, generally the wish being a second chance at life. Of course, there’s a whole manner of other things going on as well, though the demo doesn’t dive too deep as to what these are, and it’s very likely we won’t find out until the full launch.

However, it did give a taste of the new combat system. In the original The World Ends With You, which came out for the Nintendo DS, you had to control two battles at the same time, with one happening on the bottom using just the touch screen, and the other on the top with buttons. When it was brought to the Nintendo Switch it was all touch screen all the time. However, Neo: The World Ends With You is being released on the PlayStation 4, which has no touch screen and only a single screen. So the combat system is, again, being reworked. This time the gimmick is that you’ll play as your entire party at the same time in action combat.

The idea is simple: you can give your characters pins which are then assigned to the shoulder and face buttons. These pins allow characters to use an ability, which includes things like laser swords, flying kicks, shooting energy blasts, pyrokinesis, and more. When you use a character’s ability you also instantly swap to that character, so you’re constantly changing who you play as on the fly. While your entire team shares HP, and the characters you’re not playing as are invincible so you don’t have to worry about them doing anything dumb (although they won’t fight when you’re not them), you are encouraged to swap often.

The game does this through the beat system. Every time you finish a combo on an enemy, you’re given a small window of opportunity to swap characters and continue the attack. Successfully doing so fills up a team attack meter, and once that’s full you get to use a super attack. The kind of attack you do depends on who you’re currently playing as and what their last attack was. For example: when I used it after the energy blasts, I created an orb that would rapidly shoot energy blasts at the closest enemy. On the other hand, when I used it after pyrokinesis, I literally got to pull a meteor from the sky that just did a lot of damage.

The end result is fast, fun, and frenzied combat against a bunch of enemies. I always had a really good time participating in battles, and unlike most RPGs I actually went and sought them out to grind. Thankfully, Neo: The World Ends With You has no random encounters. Instead you have to scan for enemies and then select which ones you want to fight. This means you can chain together multiple combat encounters in a row, which make for tougher battles but gets you better rewards. I always deeply appreciated this option.

While I only got a couple of hours with it, I am extremely excited for the full release of Neo: The World Ends With You. It’s a world I’ve wanted to revisit for quite some time now, and this is one of the best ways to do so. If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, the demo is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, with the full game launching on both platforms on July 27th. There’s also a PC version coming later in the year.