With so many visual novels releasing on the Switch it’s hard to track down the cream of the crop in storytelling among all the simplistic narratives that lure you in with cute characters or high definition artwork. Most visual novels tend to be about getting your own ‘harem’ of cute boys or girls who you can spend a romantic time with. And it was the fact that ‘Our World Is Ended’ doesn’t seem to have such a build-up premise that it already stood out of the crowd. But is it really that much better then the flock of visual novels?
Judgment Seven is a team of programmers who are working with AR headsets to make the real world seem different and make games out of it. Yet things turn for the worst fast as the world of AR starts to blend itself with real life and it is up to protagonist Reiji and his friends to solve what the heck is going on without being to disctracted by the constant jiggling of his co-workers boobs.
Our World is Ended almost feels like it wants to take settings from popular anime games like 999 or Danganronpa and combine it with the more echii situations that you see so often in shounen anime. The games characters and protagonist have a real keen feel for the lady parts that strike the eye the most and every half an hour of play time it needs to remind you how soft, big or round the melons are of your best friend. Now that is a thing that can either irritate you the instant you notice it, or it can please you just like it does when you watch your favorite anime. Although I didn’t mind these to be blended in the story, it did take the sense of survival and seriousness out of the game.
The thought behind the story seems intriguing and it is! The game also starts up nicely by introducing characters one by one and showing that everyone has different characteristics, but none of them really stand out as being unique for a visual novel, meaning you’ve seen these types of characters many times before. After a few hours of play, the story seemingly slows down a bit. Characters often have kind of meaningless conversations as the problem at hand is much more trivial and dangerous. The AR world often has video game references, which is great! But the characters often wind up talking about how certain mechanics work or the romantic aspects of a moment in the game.
Having a lack of focus is one of the games weaker sides. The plot revolves around a dangerous world coming to life, yet it always seems to come to a halt when it start to get exciting. Visual novels can often be long and take forever to get from one major plot beat to another, but Our World is Ended struggles to establish what each plot beat even is and why they matter. Other games like Stein’s Gate, 999 or Danganronpa do a much better job at doing both, but focusing on characters deliberately meant to be exaggerated and unlikable doesn’t lend itself well to driving the drama.
Where the game does shine in is its art style and bright and pastel coloured backgrounds. Both characters and environments are highly detailed and featrue allot of resemblances to the gaming culture of Japan. So if you have interest or experience in that culture then you are in for a treat.
Another important aspect for Visual Novels is the voiced dialogues and just like with the artstyle this is one of the game highlights. All the characters react lifelike and the voices just fit perfectly with the roles they are given. So even if the story may sound dull at times, at least the voice actors make for a nice experience to listen to.
Whenever you think your decisions in the game will point to something important, the answers you can choose from almost feel trivial and all the same. The game also has a ‘Selection of Soul’ system where the choices you make will make your co-workers look differently at you. The game even gives you video comments where words fly by so quickly you might have a hard time reading them all and in the end, it just feels like it makes you derail from the plot even more.
Our World is Ended gave us a nice promise of a story with fantastic artwork and some really good voice actors. But yet it falls flat on its face when it comes to building up a good plot and keep derailing to fanservice way to often. If you love the Japanese gaming culture and allot of fanservice then this is the game for you, otherwise we would recommend waiting for a discount or a different story altogether.