I’ve been noticeably quiet this weekend, that can mean only one thing – I’ve been immersed and captivated by yet another Visual Novel! It’s not every day that I’ll play a game for over 70 hours in order to get the platinum before I even think about writing my review. Just like Death Mark and Song of Memories, I was determined to finish it 100% before telling you all about ‘Our World is Ended‘.
Unlike the aforementioned Death Mark and other titles which could fall into the ‘Visual Novel’ genre, such as Danganronpa and Ace Attorney, Our World is Ended is a pure Visual Novel just like Steins;Gate Elite, Arcade Spirits, and Song of Memories (for the most part); so don’t expect any combat or alternative gameplay outside of reading along and tapping the Cross Button. What you will get is a rollercoaster of emotions for around 40-45 hours followed by at least seven replays in order to unlock all the endings and bonus features.
I was hooked the moment I completed the Prologue and didn’t play anything else until I achieved the platinum, let’s take a look at why it’s a masterpiece despite the technical and UX issues I encountered…
Our World is Ended is such a fascinating and incredibly interesting experience, yet judging by some of the reviews out there at the moment, the humour the game delivers isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – more on that later. First of all, what is the general story you’ll be experiencing? Our protagonist is a temp worker for Judgement 7, a small indie developer which tends to create games which nobody likes other than those on the team. His role is an AD, not an Assistant Director but an Assisting Director – he’s basically the odd-job guy who everyone commands to do their bidding when they can’t be bothered.
The team have just created their new game engine, the W.O.R.L.D. program; a technologically advanced system which can provide live augmented reality over the whole town, providing you’re wearing one of the custom-built AR headsets. Just imagine it, you could be wearing one and being fully aware of what’s around you only it’s now rendering itself as a medieval town or a futuristic city by re-texturing the real-life objects. However, whilst testing the headset out, Reiji, our protagonist, experiences a glimpse of something rather unsettling – something which the headset and the program weren’t instructed to show.
Upon reporting back to the founder and lead programmer at Judgement 7, the whole team decide to don their headsets and check out this new and unusual world for themselves. Due to a glitch, or something more sinister, they become trapped within a 3:3 recreation of their town where time runs 24 times slower than it does in real life (so one hour in real-life is a day within the VR world). However, the team are not alone, manifestations of their games begin to appear, from the helpful yet slightly disturbing NPCs to the grotesque and perverted bosses, you literally never know what they are going to encounter each time they venture into this new world.
As the story goes on, agendas change, the situations they find themselves in are more deadly and they become aware of new threats. Nothing is safe in either world as certain aspects begin to leak into the real world and threaten all of Tokyo. It’s up to you and the rest of the team to put a stop to the events within this treacherous reality and become the unknown heroes; or is it too late?
In terms of the ‘gameplay’, as I mentioned earlier on, you’ll be pressing Cross a lot in order to progress through the text, unless you set it to Auto, and you’ll get a few instances where you can make a choice of what to do next. Now, the game isn’t as interactive as other VNs out there, and your choices won’t alter the story, bar for a few instances where you’ll run into different people based on what you chose to do or who you wished to hang out with (like we saw in Song of Memories). However, the game keeps track of your top three ‘love interests’ in the Options menu, so you can see who is your current number one gal (or guy). However, the end result doesn’t mean you’ll hook up with them in all instances, as one of the girls is 13 years old, but it decides whose ending you’ll get.
So, if you’re hoping to get a specific ending then you need to try and avoid leading on anyone but the person you want. You can boost your reputation with each person by choosing to hang out with them, picking the right dialogue option when you have a few presented to you, or choosing the right thing to say in a word ‘game’. If you’ve played Danganronpa, this will look familiar. Many times during the game, the various characters will ask you a question or make a statement and you’ll see a bunch of sentences fly by – you have to pick the one you think is best suited for the conversation. Some give you a big boost, some a small one, and picking nothing will seemingly reduce your rep with them. There is no numerical indication though, so it’s hard to judge what your actions affect other than looking at the top three people in your list after you make a choice.
Also, just like any other Visual Novel, you can skip all read text, skip all text, hide the chat box (to look at the lovely art), and re-listen and read the previous conversations since the game last saved. You can even jump back to the previous conversations, which is very handy as there is no chapter select. That’s right, if you pick the wrong option and then save, or totally forget something – you’ll have to play the game again, from the beginning. There is a generous amount of manual save slots though, as well as L1 and R1 for quick save and load.
I’m genuinely waiting for someone to bring out a controller for the PS4 which is literally a single button you can just tap to progress the VNs, my thumb was hurting after 70 hours and my Cross button now squeaks a little when pressed!
It may seem like I’ve given away a lot of the game within my synopsis above, but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg! There’s a lot of events and experiences you’ll go through which will have you laughing, crying, and shouting at your TV as you’ll create a genuine bond with all of the main characters within the game. You’ll live through Reiji’s eyes as you feel all of the same emotions he goes through within this rollercoaster of a game. Now, I’m quite sensitive to emotional games, they always make me tear up when something happens, whether it’s something good or bad – as long as it has the music to accompany it, and the overall atmosphere is set up perfectly, it’ll affect me. Let’s just say pretty much all seven endings triggered me, as did numerous events throughout the game for various characters…
This is what I love about Visual Novels, instead of shoehorning in lots of characters and having them appear for a few scenes and then they’re gone, VNs tend to create a full backstory for each of the people you’ll encounter. It allows you to build a much bigger connection with them than you would in other genres. When I look back at it, other than a few other main NPC characters, you don’t see anyone else outside of the gorgeous backdrops which have static images of people upon them. The game lets you focus on that which is important, your gang of merry men (and women).
Our World is Ended was such a joy to read through. I still feel 428: Shibuya Scramble is my favourite VN of this generation so far, as it’s a masterpiece with its visuals and unique time-based cryptic timeline, and I love Death Mark for the themes it covered. However, this game joins them as one of the best of this generation in terms of its borderline offensive dialogue (I have no idea how they got away with a lot of the things it says), the humour, the interesting take on a Matrix and Inception combination, and creative narrative. Now, the humour isn’t for everyone, as I said earlier, so let’s touch on that…
Okay, I’m going to lay this out there right now – I don’t take offence at anything, I know when a game or media is having a laugh and being playful, and I can ‘read the room’ in terms of if the style is there purely to offend someone or if it’s there to match the direction and personalities within said medium. So, if you get offended easily, you have an issue with mild body shaming in the name of comedy, or you find things such as lolicons and shotacons offensive (the obsession/love of young girls and boys), then Our World is Ended isn’t for you.
Are you still with me? Great! I’ll talk about each of the main protagonists below, but there is a common theme within Our World is Ended, big boobs are great and girls with small boobs aren’t even worth bothering with. Now, before you get your panties in a twist, this is because the guy who founded Judgement 7 and his friend, Owari and Iruka No. 2, are two massive perverts. The game hammers on about this over and over again. They’ll demand the 16-year-old with massive boobs engages in ‘Big-Breast Sumo’, create AR kits that put all the women in swimming costumes, design their in-game enemies on perverted tentacle monsters which only likes women with big assets, and even program voice controls for the AR headsets which sound like you’re receiving pleasure. They are self-proclaimed perverts.
Why am I telling you this? There is a lot of banter which goes back and forth throughout the game which hints at our character being a lolicon, as you’re the assisting director to the 13-year-old who just happens to be a genius and doesn’t see herself as a kid. This results in her constantly coming onto you in a playful way or misinterpreting what’s going on, which can come off as being rather sexual. For example, turning up in your college and telling you to “shove your rod in her mouth because nobody shoves long black rods in her mouth quite like you”. She’s talking about her chocolate bar, as you shove it in her mouth to help her gain energy to stay awake, but it comes off rather sexual and awkward, in a funny way.
There’s also Asano, the older sister of the 16-year-old with massive boobies, yet Asano has a sub-A-cup and the guys constantly call her out on it as they are only fixated on the girls with the bigger sizes. This is a running ‘joke’ which goes throughout the game, with Asano even joining in and commenting on her size at times as well. It’s not an attack at girls with smaller boobs or trying to be offensive, it’s in tune with the personality of the characters and they act as you’d expect them too. Oh, Asano is a Shotacon as well, she is obsessed with younger boys, as in 13 to 16-year-olds. This is a cultural thing due to the age limits over in Japan, but nothing sexual is done throughout the game to anyone underage.
So, Just who are Judgement 7 and what do they do? Let’s take a look at the men:
Owari: The founder of Judgement 7, the lead coder and one of the biggest perverts you’ll ever experience within a Visual Novel on the PS4. Not only will he strip naked, wearing only a loin-cloth, with no regards for people around him or any sign of embarrassment, but he openly twists everything into an innuendo. Despite his rather perverted and ‘unique’ mind, he’s also a technical mastermind. Give him a computer and he’ll hack into any security within minutes without even breaking a sweat. Some may say that his talents are going to waste simply developing games, but he’s doing what he loves – so who can argue with that.
Iruka No.2: The best friend of Owari and just as perverted as him as well! Iruka’s role within the company is the script and scenario writer, this was given to him for his unmatched level of imagination. To him, everything is a game and he’s an almighty God among men, flapping his arms about as he screams out incantations and curses to people in real life whilst he tries to summon the powers he believes he has. Some of the greatest moments within Our World is Ended will come from simply listening to the voice actor go absolutely bananas as he screams out the most random phrases imaginable.
The fixation both Ikura and Owari have over female breasts is quite worrying and is reflected in every scenario, creature they created, and conversation they have. Only they could create an NPC whose ultimate attacks consist of falling over and landing in a sexy pose, and motorboating people to death with her enormous bosoms!
Reiji: This is our main protagonist, the part-time Assisting Director who has been given the job of looking after Tatiana as well as assisting the team with anything they need. Just like the other two guys, Reiji loves girls with big hooters. Hell, if it wasn’t for Yuno, with her generous proportions, standing on the street looking for a new part-timer, he wouldn’t have been drawn to her like a moth to a flame and agreed to anything she said!
However, you can’t judge a girl by the size of her bra, so depending on what choices you make, Reiji may surprise you and end up falling for the polar opposite of what he initially wants at the beginning of the story…
Now let’s take a long, hard look at the ladies:
Natsumi: As the Dark Princess of Judgement 7, Natsumi is responsible for all of the art within the developer’s games. Due to a troubling past, she finds it hard to draw cute and cuddly suggestions; any she receives will instantly get the ‘Natsume makeover’ as they manifest as more horrific or technically advanced versions of their original ideas. If you ask for a soft teddy bear which likes kids and farts out stink gas so you don’t touch its rear end, she’ll turn it into a death trap which likes (to eat) kids and farts out (poisonous) gas. Natsume loves solitude, she doesn’t do well with human interaction, especially from Reiji. Will we ever be able to break her impenetrable barrier?
Tatiana: Tatiana is the young thirteen-year-old from Russia, but don’t be fooled by her young age and cute looks, she is a prodigy, a child genius, academically years above her age, she even holds a doctorate already! She assists Owari with the coding side of development, as she’s almost as good as him despite the massive difference in her mental age. You see, even though she is clever beyond anyone’s imagination, she’s still a young girl who acts like she’s ten years old. She’s constantly napping, requires chocolate bars to stay awake, throws tantrums if things don’t go as she wishes, and requires Reiji to wipe her mouth and wash her face when she eats. The question is, what will her ending be once you finish the game, surely it can’t be a romantic one… Well, people do think Reiji is a Lolicon…
Asano: The sister of Yuno, branded the ‘unfortunate one’ on account of her sub-A-cup breasts and because everything he does is ‘saddening’, such as going to karaoke on her own because she has no friends. She’s tone deaf yet believes she is the best singer in the world, this wouldn’t be an issue but she’s the sound designer for Judgement 7! Fed up of hearing the constant cleavage comparisons to the other girls, including 13-year-old Tatiana, Asano is a deadly weapon who’ll punch anything and anyone who says anything negative towards her. However, she is one of the most protective sisters you’ll ever see as she and Yuno have been through a lot in the last few years, they have learnt to depend on one another and are always there when either of them needs support.
Yuno: Officially the assistant for the team, Yuno is the one who helps out everyone when Reiji is busy, although things always get passed to him first. If I had to describe Yuno in one word, it would be airhead – she’s very, very dopey as she acts very naive and constantly strings people on simply because she has no idea what’s she’s doing. Her major assets in life, within Our World is Ended, are her WMDs, Weapons of Mammary Destruction! If she was to fall on you, breasts first, you’ll be sure to get knocked out for the count at the very least! Asano has become super protective of Yuno due to her massive boobies and airheadedness, people are prone to try and take advantage of her because she can’t comprehend their true intentions.
Bonus content and trophies
First of all, the great news – the bonus content you get for completing the game is amazing. There are various levels of completion, completing the game, completing a characters pathway, and seeing all of a characters CGs. If you complete a pathway then you’ll unlock the characters ending chapters, so you can replay them at any time – these are around an hour long each. If you complete the pathway and get the CGs then you unlock some new bonus chapters – these are worth all the pain and suffering I went through trying to 100% the game!
The bonus chapters are like blooper reels, only purposely messed up – like they sometimes do at the end of Disney films. You’ll see scenarios play out as they did in the real game, only something will be different. An example is Owari ripping off his clothes and walking around with only a loin-cloth on in random scenarios, or getting totally naked. Another funny one was a ‘what if’ scenario. In the real game, you can teach Asano how to swim and there’s an accident but you recover easily. It does the scenario again but based on if she had boobs as big as Yuno. Obviously, the event turns out very different! I was laughing all the way through these and they are quite long as well, which is a nice bonus. Asano even has a punch counter as you watch a replay of every time she punched someone within the entire game!
Trophies… Where do I begin. Our World is Ended is a bastard for trophies. Sure, it’s your standard set; complete the game, complete all pathways and unlock all the CGs. The issue here is the ‘view all branches’. This requires you to basically see every single line of text within the game. So, when you get a choice on the screen – quick save then pick an option, follow it through for a few minutes, reload, pick another, follow through, reload, etc… I spent about 10-15 hours just going through every combination until I found the one option I hadn’t done. Here’s a hint for you – picking no option counts as one of the branches.
However, I’m now a proud owner of the Our World is Ended Platinum. An achievement I’m proud of and very glad I got to experience.
Not much to say in regards to the technical side. Our World is Ended is your typical Visual Novel. It looks great, with a modern-futuristic art style as you experience Matrix-like events. The level of detail on the horrific and perverted creatures is also very well done. I can’t falter the visual design at all. In regards to animation, there is none. Well, the mouths are lip-synced and the characters randomly blink, but that’s about it. Poses fade in and out as they change, if a character moves then it’s like they are being dragged across the screen, and they all look very ‘stiff’.
In terms of the audio – the voice actor behind Iruka stole the show with his crazy shouting and a rather eccentric personality. However, all voice over artists did a phenomenal job, even though it’s all in Japanese. The game is also fully voiced, including the protagonist, with the only times there is no voice being when you’re thinking and not actually talking out loud. The sound design in regards to the music really helped add a thick atmosphere over the game, making emotional scenes more intense and lighthearted ones more jolly. I think I can safely say that Asano had nothing to do with the sound design in Our World is Ended!
The only complaint I have with the game is its subtitles. There were a lot of errors popping up the further into the game you got. Things like “Here” instead of “her”, missing letters, the wrong word being used in terms of the context, missing words, doubled words etc… Sure, a few of the characters talked with a childish manner so the game would multiply leeeeters if they were slurring the words (like that), but these weren’t intentional. I got used to it after a while, as you don’t really expect a 40-50 hour narrative to be 100% perfect, but I know some people can get really picky.
PQube Games have once again published an amazing Visual Novel with Our World is Ended. At times I felt like I was within Inception, as we connected to the new world in order to take down the new manifestation of one of our previous games, then it’s like we’ve taken the red pill and we’re being pulled out of the Matrix in order to return to real life. It’s all very exciting and each time you hook into the virtual world you’ll see new events and obstacles the team must overcome in order to survive and get out alive. Sure, there’s a lot of crude and toilet humour, mild small-boob body shaming, lolicon and shotacon questionable moments, and lots of perverted and borderline illegal-in-the-west moments, but it’s all in the name of comedy and fits in perfectly with the personalities of the characters.
If you like Visual Novels and are looking for a new 40+ hour experience (much more if going for the platinum without any guides), then Our World is Ended will be perfect for you. Just don’t pick it up if anything I’ve said offends you as you’ll end up with your panties in a twist and we don’t want that…
Our World is Ended£44.99
- - Brilliant story and incredible voice acting
- - Very emotional, funny, intense, and exciting
- - Over 40 hours on your first read through
- - Visually a very good looking game with a great artistic style
- - Expands on the original Vita version with a new secret chapter
- - Lots of spelling mistakes at this point (should be fixed soon, hopefully)
- - No tracker to keep on top of the trophies, doing all 'branches' by picking every option was a pain