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What The Critics Are Saying About NEO: The World Ends With You

Back at E3 2018, Nintendo Switch fans were given a remake of the popular DS game "The World Ends With You," reminding fans why they loved the original so much. Just two years later, Square Enix announced that there would be a sequel to the game with a very similar title: "NEO: The World Ends With You." Now that "NEO" has finally arrived, critics had a lot to say about the game — and so far, the reviews have been stellar. 

The first game was quite memorable, particularly thanks to the hidden meaning behind its plot: a cautionary tale against playing too many video games. According to Katie Hultner from Polygon, it's important to either watch or play the original's story before diving into the new one, as "NEO" is full of references. Luckily, the original was also made into an anime series right before "NEO" was released.

Most critics agreed that the main characters quickly sucked them in. The game centers around a trio of friends, who Hultner called "delightful" despite feeling "a bit stereotypical" in their presentation. Meanwhile, Josh Broadwell from Gfinity argued that "Square Enix [has] created what's probably the best bunch of dysfunctional heroes." These main characters are also "layered with chemistry," which keeps things interesting in spit of the small size of the party, according to Jade King from TheGamer.

The characters weren't the only thing to catch the eyes of critics, though.

Critics loved NEO's characters and soundtrack

When it comes to "NEO: The World Ends With You," there's one major truth: when it comes to the plot and gameplay mechanics, there are a lot of different things going on in the game at all times. Hultner pointed out that the "NEO" could have been confusing, but "there isn't much time to dwell on that" because it's "an incredibly busy game."

While this might not sound too enticing on the surface, it means that there's something to enjoy for everyone. For example, Dalton Cooper from Game Rant mentioned that the soundtrack of the game is "absolutely fantastic ... [and] even the pause menu music is memorable."

Another popular part of the game referenced in reviews was the combat. Broadwell called the combat system "hugely satisfying," and King referenced it as "a complex dance" where "the learning curve ... is fairly steep." However, despite this complexity, King found "NEO: The World Ends With You" to be an overall balanced experience: "The game does a lot to make you feel powerful without making you overpowered, and this balance maintains itself regardless of the difficulty setting you choose."

Critics are divided over the combat in NEO

While many reviews praised the combat system, other critics weren't exactly impressed. For example, King mentioned that the combat was "arguably the weakest element" in the game. According to the critic, "the key to success is always the same, and if [something new] fails to execute on combos as fast as your current loadout, there's little incentive to swap things out for something new."

The combat wasn't the only controversial feature of the game. Not everyone was wild about the art style, either. While some loved how the character designs looked, like Broadwell, others were not impressed with what Cooper called a "cheap" style in this day and age.

Despite some of the negatives, most critics were impressed at the end of the day. In fact, both Cooper and King mentioned that "NEO" could be award-winning for various elements, particularly in regards to the game's audio. Broadwell commented that the game "is easily one of the year's finest RPGs," adding it to the ranks of other great 2021 RPGs like "Persona 5 Strikers" and "The Nioh Collection."