I am new to the whole TWENY world. I only played the first game a few months ago, and I was impressed with its story, unique vibe, and gameplay that I started to crave for more. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait like other poor souls for a follow-up. NEO: The World Ends With You is the sequel to 2008’s The World Ends With You. The first TWENY game was a different beast from most of Square Enix’s JRPGs. It’s unique style and gameplay made it a different experience that most reviewers seemed to enjoy back then. At the time, people wondered if a sequel or follow-up to the game would ever come out. They would soon join the Kingdom Hearts fans in the back of the classroom and wait patiently for the next thirteen years for a new mainline entry. As a newcomer to the series, I fell in love with the charm and story of TWENY that I wanted to play the sequel as soon as I finished the first. If you want to get an idea on my complete feelings about the first game, I wrote a post about it last month, so give that a read if you want to guess my thoughts about the sequel. With that out of the way, let’s see how NEO TWENTY compared to the original to me.
Hell looks like a late-2000s Japanese metropolis, now with more plaid. New to the Reaper’s madness are Rindo Kanade and his friend Tosai “Fret” Furesawa who just waltz their way into the UG version of Shibuya. Things get plot-ty when Rindo sees a vision of Fret getting 360 no scoped by a utility truck and alters the timeline to save him from meeting a flatten end. Greeted by a reaper named Shoko Sakurane, the boys learn that they have to survive 7 days in hell in order to escape. Along the way, they join forces with mathematician Sho Minaminoto, and weeb stalker (and best girl) Nagi Usui. Nagi learns that she can kill people in their mind with by diving into their LiveJournal, and Fret learns that he can help people remember where they left their car keys. Rindo learns that he can kill an alternate version of himself in the past to rewrite certain events to alter the future. Together with their powers, they seek to win the Reaper’s Game and get back to playing Final Fantasy GO (I wish I was making up that last part).
Since it hasn’t been that long since I played the original, I think this would be a fun time to compare my feelings for both games in a “Who Dun It Better” kinda way. Don’t worry about spoilers being mentioned anywhere for NEO: The World Ends With You since it is still fairly new and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will spoil things from the original game since its been thirteen years and you’ve had your chance by now.
Let’s compare the stories. I praised TWENY for being able to tell a comprehensive story in a short time with few characters running the narrative. The storyline stayed focused and everything connected without throwing in surprise elements out of nowhere. Where NEO’s story started out strong for me with it’s biggest mystery upfront, it suffered towards the middle and end by not pacing quite right. It’s always a troubled feeling when the game introduces a new character in the final act only for that person to play a critical role during the climax. NEO tried to have a longer and engaging story than TWENY, but it ended up going on a little bit too long and rushing towards its conclusion. It is a shame because there were some good story moments in the game that kept me engaged and trying to solve the mystery on my own before the game could explain it to me. The twists throughout the game didn’t feel as strong as TWENY’s twists, so any grand revelations just felt like a “ah neat” moment.
A point for story goes to: TWENY
The casts of TWENY felt small and developed. By the end of the game, I was able to understand each character and all of their traits without needing to seek further information about them. The same can be said about NEO, minus the small casts. The casts in NEO feels almost double with the amount of players and reapers that you are introduced to. More so, you are given more details about the various NPCs in Shibuya thanks to the Reaper Social Network that acts as your sidequest tracker. The social network tracker not only gives you details about each character, but shows how some of them are related to one another and update as the story unfolds. I know I said TWENY had good characters and development, but NEO does as well and doesn’t falter when developing them as well. The main casts of Rindo, Fret, and Nagi all have their character development arcs that have a coherent beginning and end that travels throughout the entire narrative; just like Neku, Beat, and Joshua did in the original. The only main problem I have is Rindo. Throughout the game you learn that he has a hard time deciding things on his own and making quick decisions. I feel like this is a weak character trait compared to Neku’s character in TWENY. Neku had to learn how to open himself up to the people and world around him; hints the whole “the world ending with you” perspective. I don’t feel like Rindo’s world is crumbling around him just because he is a slow decision maker. I also don’t like the fact that the game knows that Rindo is somewhat boring and brings in more exciting characters throughout the game. But it is because of the better characters around him that I find NEO to have the better characters overall.
A point for characters goes to: NEO
I have played both versions of TWENY (DS and Switch). While both versions require interacting with the screen in some form, I greatly prefer the DS controls over the Switch. Seeing as the game was meant for a touch screen originally, this is no surprise. The only way the game could be better is if there were no motion gimmicks to begin with, which NEO provides. Each character is assigned a pin that represents a button on your controller. Pins are divided into pin types that fall under a different button input. This makes the gameplay so much better since I don’t have to worry about waving my arms just to pull off a certain input. This also leads to a better gameplay flow since characters can combo one another better than the sync mechanic from the original. Later on when you unlock the ability to set two characters to the same button input, the combos and damage that you can unleash can be quite satisfying. There isn’t much outside the gameplay of combat. You still go around and talk to people, buy clothes, and eat food for stat increases. I utilized the eating mechanic much more in NEO than the previous since there was a bit more of a challenge present despite having better controls. You can still freely adjust your level and difficulty settings whenever you like, but I only tone down the difficulty during certain side quest and the final boss since I was ready to see the end of it. If you haven’t guess it yet, I prefer the gameplay in NEO way more than in the original
A point for gameplay goes to: NEO
The Reaper’s Game
The original Reaper’s Game felt personal since you had to give up a personal thing to enter (besides your life). This lead to real stakes besides just avoiding death. There was also a deeper meaning to it since Neku’s whole arc was about trusting the people his life depended on. NEO’s reaper game felt less steaky since you were in teams playing for points to avoid erasure. The removal of a time limit also made the game feel like a giant inconvenience rather than a fight for your life. Having nothing to tie you to the game instead of just being forced to play didn’t make it feel as thrilling like in the original. If there was something more worth fighting for than not just dying at the end, then I feel like the game would be more exciting than just a survivor game show.
A point for the Reaper’s Game goes to: TWENY
I still listen to TWENY’s soundtrack now and again. It’s just something that fits the atmosphere and plays well with the story and ascetic. NEO’s soundtrack is just as good with some real bangers and remixes from the original game. Some of the tracks feel a bit dated and out of place the mix of J-pop and heavy metal. When I asked for Kat’s opinion, she best described the soundtrack as “reliving her middle school rebellious phase.” With that, I have no problem with NEO’s soundtrack since it is still really good. However, since most of my favorites are remixes from the original soundtrack, I still prefer TWENY’s soundtrack over NEO’s. Shoutout to some of my favorite tracks like Ooparts -JP – NEO Mix, Someday – NEO Mix, World is Yours, and Your Ocean.
The point for soundtrack goes to: TWENY
Style and Visuals
TWENY has a certain style that makes it stand out and works with its presentation. NEO is the same way, but adds a third-dimension to the mix. Both games share the same art direction, but NEO is presented more of a graphic novel with its character cut-ins and expressive features. Both games have the weird visual of where the building look warped to make you feel like you are in a concrete jungle. Honestly, I couldn’t decide on which game had the better visuals, so I will consider this a tie.
A point for style and visuals goes to: Both
Side Quests and Minigames
TWENY has Tin Pin Slammer. You know my feelings about Tin Pin Sinner. NEO doesn’t have any minigames besides Scramble Slam, but that is part of the story progression. NEO does have side quests that the original didn’t have, but they are much to talk about besides opening up perks via the social network. Since NEO doesn’t have Tin Pin Skidoo in it, I think you know which one is better….
A point for side quests and minigames goes to: NEO
This isn’t really about comparing both games as much as the performance of NEO. I played NEO on my Switch the entire time and did not encounter any problems. I’ve seen some reports that the game will crash and some framerate issues for the Switch version, but honestly I didn’t encounter any problems that ruined my playtime. I played entirely in docked mode, but I have no idea if that matters to anything. Honestly, I feel comfortable to recommend playing the game on any system of your choice as long as you are having fun with it.
A point for performance goes to: Whatever your preference is.
TWENY made me fall in love with the series. I found the story, characters, and presentation to be strong and give me something that I haven’t played before. While the combat got frustrating to a point, I stuck it out just to see how this story would unfold. NEO fixed the gameplay issues that I had, but the story started out strong and then just got flat towards the end. I feel that if they kept a constant pace with the story instead of rushing it at the end, I would have put NEO higher than the original. Both games have their biggest strengths and flaws, but if I were to return to one of them and complete all of the hidden objectives, it would have to be NEO. I can ignore the story in NEO and just have fun playing the game and unlock all of the pins, clothes, music, and achievements. With TWENY, the story was the biggest draw for me outside the gameplay, and I would have a hard time collecting everything in TWENY just to unlock everything. And if I am going to return to a game, it has to be about me having fun while playing it. So while I feel that TWENY is more enjoying to experience, NEO is more fun to just play.
A point for overall enjoyment goes to: NEO
The Winner and Final Thoughts
By the counts, it seems like I enjoyed the sequel over the original. Both games have their strong points, but as a game, TWENY has a few gameplay flaws than NEO does. This doesn’t mean that I think NEO is the better game overall. It just has elements that make it a better game to play on repeat by default. I would honestly say that if you want to replay the original, do what I did and play the DS version for a better time. Overall, this is a great series that I have sunk into now. Now I can join the unfortunate crew that has to wait thirteen years for a new game to come out. Based on some dialogue at the end, they could possible do another game, but it would have to be with brand new characters and maybe a different setting to spice things up. For what its worth, NEO: The World Ends With You is a fun game to play if you are looking for an Action RPG with fun gameplay with a story that is inoffensive at the end.
During my playthrough of NEO: The World Ends With You, my stats were:
Finished on: 9/11/2021
1 Full Playthrough
Books Collected: 82/107
Music Collected: 1/51 (Didn’t feel like spending money on music)
Pins Collected: 161/333
Pins Mastered: 64/333
Threads Collected: 80/277
Food Dishes Ate: 53/95
Total Collection Completion: 43.6%
Noise Encountered: 77/92
Noisepedia Completion: 39.7% (Based on four different versions of each Noise)
Psychic Rank: Master Player
Graffiti (Achievements) Collected: 20/50 (39.2%)
Social Network Completion: 60.0%
Total Completion: 50%
And that was NEO: The World Ends With You. Give it a try if any of the things sounds interesting to you. Also let me know if you liked this comparison type of posts. It’s rare that I play games in a series back-to-back, but if it happens again I may or may not use this format again.
Thanks for this thorough breakdown! I loved the first game so I’m very excited about playing NEO when I eventually get my hands on it!
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