And I Feel… Ever So Slightly Not Fine
HIGH Dealing with the slightly unhinged Pielope.
LOW Repetitive gameplay centered around simple puzzles.
WTF Hey where is my Pielope?
From Kazutaka Kodaka (writer and director of the Danganronpa series) and Kotaro Uchikoshi (creator of the Zero Escape series) comes World’s End Club.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic Japan, the titular “Club” is a group of students that find themselves in an unfamiliar world — they’ve all woken up after being in a traffic accident and are now (apparently) the last humans left on the planet. They soon encounter a malevolent A.I. named Pielope who then forces them to play a life-and-death game for survival.
While this idea of a life-threatning game might seem familiar to anyone who’s played the other titles from these creators, it ends up being only a small chapter of the overall plot. Once the group wins the game, the overall gameplay opens up: they start travelling around Japan, encountering new characters that will join the club as well. From this point, things take a different, more ordinary turn.
Mechanically, World’s End Club might be defined as an action-adventure with some puzzles thrown in — the player is usually tasked with exploring a 2D setting while pressing levers to activate a bridge, or pushing a crate to reach a ledge, and so on. Apart from these simple tasks, gameplay features interacting with the other characters in the club and progressing the story — it’s as simple as selecting a topic of discussion and clicking to advance the dialogue.
World’s End Club originally debuted on Apple Arcade, and apparently no changes were made to the overall gameplay. Given that it began life on a mobile-friendly platform, it feels overly simplified in general. In fact, it’s so simple that everything apart from the conversations feels tacked on — it’s little more than an excuse to interact with something, reminding us that we’re not watching an anime. As such, I feel that this content would have worked better as a straightforward visual novel with just a bit of exploration thrown in.
To its credit, the plot is indeed interesting and well-written — nothing will be what it seems, and many twists and turns await the player. On the other hand, I can’t say that I grew very fond of the characters, but then again, there are too many members in the club, not counting the other characters, and the script doesn’t take the time to flesh them all out.
Graphically, World’s End Club doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, featuring creative (but simple) 2.5D environments, along with some interesting character designs, especially in regard to the enemies who look threatening and disfigured. Pielope herself looks both cute and evil, quite like Monokuma from Danganronpa. It’s also fully voiced, which is a rarity for a title offering with so much dialogue and text.
In the end, is the ho-hum gameplay worth trudging through just to enjoy the plot? For me it was not, and I’d have a hard time recommending this to anyone other than great fans of these creators’ other works.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Too Kyo Games and published by NIS America. It is currently available on Apple Arcade and Nintendo Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated T by the ESRB, for Moderate Violence. Violence aside, there are sensitive topics discussed in the plot. I would definitely agree in recommending it only to a teen audience.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue in the game is subtitled, but unfortunately text cannot be altered or resized. (See examples above.) There are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The characters are moved with the left analog stick and interacting with items is done with the A button, which is also used to advance dialogue. There is no control diagram. It is not possible to remap the controls.