Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Izanagi Games
On paper, World’s End Club sounds like a can’t-miss prospect. It’s a post-apocalyptic game about kids trying to root out a traitor made by two guys who know how to make that scenario work — Kotaro Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka, who played key roles in the creation of the Zero Escape and Danganronpa series, respectively. If that’s not the recipe for success, I don’t know what is.
And yet, somehow, World’s End Club misses.
What’s more, it’s not hard at all to see why it misses: it feels like a watered-down version of its creators’ other games. Just have to look at the ESRB rating: it’s rated T, whereas games like Zero Escape and Danganronpa had well-deserved M ratings. I’m not saying that edgy games are inherently better, or that swearing and violence are more interesting…but I’m not saying they’re not not better either, especially if we’re talking about games like Danganronpa and Zero Escape. Trying to turn those games into something that fits into a T rating leads to — well, it leads to a game like World’s End Club.
Part of the issue with that is that you constantly get reminded of those other games, and World’s End Club just can’t measure up. Where Danganronpa had the ?Ultimate? students trapped at a school where they met their grisly ends, World’s End Club has the Go-Getters Club, a group of tween (for the most part) students stuck at an amusement park. Where Danganronpa had Monokuma, the homicidal bear who saw everything and was a source of cuddly evil, World’s End Club has Pielope, a malevolent, homicidal clown/fairy who chimes in regularly, especially during the first chapter. The Danganronpa students had to best each other in constant trials to save themselves from death, the World’s End Club gang are trapped in the ?Game of Fate?, where they have to follow directions on wristbands to avoid being murdered.
There’s also the fact that Zero Escape and Danganronpa were mostly visual novels, whereas World’s End Club is more like a very talkative puzzle-platformer. You read long, boring exposition from one-dimensional students, and then — especially after the first chapter — you switch over to a pretty basic platformer where you occasionally need to solve puzzles. Compared to those other games, that constantly built up tension, World’s End Club feels oddly unfocused.
If World’s End Club existed in a vacuum — or even in a world where neither Danganronpa or Zero Escape didn’t exist — it might seem a little more interesting. The premise is solid, and there’s nothing inherently objectionable about the gameplay, it’s just not incredibly interesting since we’ve seen it done so much better elsewhere. But that’s precisely the problem — it’s been done much, much better, and those games are all still quite available, with the Danganronpa trilogy slated to arrive on the Switch in a few weeks. You’re better old holding out for that, rather than wasting your time with this pale imitation.
NIS America provided us with a World’s End Club Switch code for review purposes.