♩ Even if the world comes to an end, Go-go-go-getters will never fall apart! ♩
Type: Single Player
Genre: Visual Novel Platformer
Developers: Too Kyo Games, Grounding,
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: May 28, 2021
When World’s End Club, then Death March Club, was announced I couldn’t be more excited. Even when it was just being teased I was automatically drawn to it by the art that was made to represent the game. Considering how much I loved Danganronpa; Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors; and Virtue’s Last Reward (sorry never got around to playing Zero Time Dilemma), I couldn’t wait to play a game from the minds behind these games, especially one revolving around another death game. And then half the game was suddenly released on Apple Arcade, which also followed the sudden name change and the reveal that the death game was canceled. Like mostly everyone that was looking forward to this game, disappointment followed. But as the year past and the Switch release date got announce, my disappoint was mostly gone. I was a little bit dreading it, considering what I’ve heard last year, but I dived right in nonetheless.
World’s End Club starts with 11 kids, all of them 12 year olds and make up the Go-Getters Club, riding on a bus for their school trip to Kamakura. Someone has put on a TV show, one that 12 year olds probably shouldn’t be watching, about some high school children forced to take part in a death game lead by a mysterious Pielope. However, a meteor suddenly strikes near Tokyo, causing their bus to jerk and throw them forward. When they all come to again, they all find themselves in an underwater theme park. You play as Reycho, the silent exchange student, who wakes up last and everyone, aside from Vanilla and Pochi, is acting strange (well, you wouldn’t know that, but they are). And well, you find yourselves in a familiar setting where Pielope appears and puts you in the death game right from the show you were just watching.
Well, by now we all know that this death game is only during the beginning, but man is it not a great segment as it keeps you on the edge of your seat, not knowing who to trust and bracing yourself for another twist to come. Pielope (which may be one of my favorite characters here) more or less gets defeated and everyone was able to escape and get back to the surface. Once they find a nearby city, which is strangely abandoned and starting to be reclaimed by the wildlife, they get another shock that they are all the way in Kagoshima or exactly 1,200 kilometers away from Tokyo. With no other plans and their desire to see what happened in their home city, this turns into a road trip where the group will be walking their way back. Of course, many questions still hang over their heads, with more to come as they continue their journey, but they will certainly find out. They do get a 12th member soon enough (ah I see we’re getting another 999 situation) in the form of an amnesiac Yuki.
You’ll get to know the Go-Getters on your journey back to Tokyo and honestly, they all grew on me. I really enjoyed all of the characters and it turned into a cute and sweet story. It was sweet learning how tight-knit this group of kids are, the reveal on how they ended up meeting each other, and how open they are to new members. There are a lot of twists here, with some I didn’t even realize and despite how shocked I was, looking back made it make sense. And while this is a family friendly game, this does hit on some mature themes that it handles well (the switch to happy go lucky is quick though, but considering they all are 12, it does make a bit of sense that they’ll be “well anyway!” to lighten up the mood).
Each Act, which I’m using the route splits to dictate them, have at least one story chapter, camping chapter, and action chapter. You’ll get to know before going in, as you’ll be brought back to the chapter select screen that will show you the route you took and where the Go-Getters are in Japan with the help of a handy map. The story chapter is where the visual novel half of World’s End Club is and of course chapters that advance the story. You will even run into a situation that will have you choose between two choices and will split it into different routes. Camping chapters are where you (and the characters) can have a break as everyone there are winding down and just hanging out. This allows you to talk to everyone individually, getting their thoughts on the current situation, what happened to them moments before, and getting to know them even a bit more.
Before we get into the platforming action sections, there were some moments that I felt could have been better for the story. There were a couple moments that were handled off-screen, which felt strange as it felt like it could have been interesting, fun. or it felt important to the story. One stand out moment was the choice between going to Osaka and Kyoto. On your journey, Vanilla expresses that she needs to go to Osaka for a personal reason and she mentions this multiple times. However, if you choose Osaka (both to see why and spoiler reasons) you find nothing. If you chose Kyoto you do get some information that will be relevant when you’re going on the true end route and what Vanilla wanted in Osaka. It’s easy to gloss over her reason, but it was weird that it happened off screen and makes Osaka disappointing as the build up wasn’t paid off (which probably was on purpose to reflect the characters, but it was still disappointing). There were also a couple choices that you were not able to get, which is probably because an early end wasn’t written for it (like how you can’t leave everyone in the underwater theme park) which begs the question on why have it be a choice.
Also, with the whole death game got canceled aspect, I do wish there was some level of distrust between the group, even if it was just in the beginning of the road trip. Getting past my disappoint due to how the game was marketed before the Apple Arcade release, it is an interesting idea on having a group that has to work together after trying to kill each other. It was disappointing having this resolved immediately with the brainwashed explanation as it would have been great seeing the group, and by extension you, trust the ones that “killed” or tried to “kill” them. There could have also been an interesting dynamic where the group was split between those that felt they had no reason to feel guilty and apologize due to them not being fully in control and those that still felt guilty as they still tried to kill their friends plus those that were “killed” early (specifically tension between Nyoro and Tattsun). The only one that had a semblance of feeling guilty was Aniki, but it’s hard to tell if he felt bad or it was just his usual self.
The last chapter type you’ll have are action chapters, which does have a chance of being tied with a story chapter without going back to the map chapter select screen. These are the platforming sections where you’ll be running around, pushing boxes, and jumping to get onto platforms, with the occasional easy puzzle and enemies (including bosses). You see, these kids will actually reveal a special ability (or buddy skill) that will come out when the have a strong feeling of wanting to protect their friends and even can symbolize their growth. Like Mowchan will turn into a iron ball, Reycho can throw things hard, and Pai can protect others with her force field. When these are awakened, each of the members have their own section to shine. Though these sections are just subpar and easy to get past as it’s easy to get past the threats, the platforming isn’t challenging, and the puzzles are easy. The few times you will die is the few times when there’s a cheap death, the character doesn’t jump when you pressed the button to, not grabbing onto a ledge (making you think you can’t reach it when you actually can), and death by ability wind-up.
These action chapters are not as bad as others make it out to be, and I do feel a bit silly dreading these sections, but they are definitely the low points of World’s End Club. At least they don’t last too long. There were only three, maybe four, action sections that felt both terrible and just not fun for me, and that was most of Pai’s sections where they tried to make her inherently defensive ability into an offensive one and the last boss fight leading up to the first ending. I do understand why they went with the half visual novel half platformer approach, as I’m not too sure how these sections would have been handled or hit the same notes if it was just a visual novel, but you can tell the team wasn’t too experienced in making platformers. There were moments where it shined, like when Pai’s ability was used defensively and the last couple boss fights, but most of the time it was just there.
There are collectibles here in the form of stickers. During the action chapters you’ll hear and come across glowing spots that will materialize into individual stickers when you get close enough. Most of them are pretty much on your way to your goal and the most you need to do is walk by it to have it materialize for you to grab it. The others just need you to go the opposite way with only one requiring you to complete a specific requirement (despite the tutorial tip suggesting that it wouldn’t be a one off thing). These aren’t necessary, unless you want to get them all of course, as they just have a blurb about the school cartoon character or the Electro Ranger on it.
There are two different endings, the first and the true, but you should be aiming to get to the true ending. Not only will you be missing out on the better ending and a couple twists that are revealed, but also over half of the game, as you’ll be able to choose the routes you didn’t pick in your first go around (and you might miss the cute scene where they ride a 12-seated bike).
Though I have to say that the music put with World’s End Club is great, with the Go-Getter’s Club theme song (or anthem, whichever one you want to call it) is so good and cute and totally didn’t make me cry at the end. I also love that this was fully voice acted as everyone does a good job with their roles. It also shouldn’t be a surprise that I loved the art style, which made the characters so cute (or cool). The only complaints here was that there were some lines that were awkward (either because it was just awkward dialog or being lost in translation) and the auto-advance didn’t advance when the line was completed on the voice acting end instead of when the full text appeared in the text box, which is a shame for a fully voiced visual novel.
World’s End Club honestly wasn’t as bad as I was reading and hearing about both from last year’s Apple Arcade half-release and this year’s full release. It’s not as good as their previous Danganronpa and Zero Escape trilogies, but it’s not terrible or bad. While the platforming action parts were the low points, the great story and the characters you get to know really saves the game and at the end I was fine with the death game turned road trip aspect (they all are too cute anyway). I do also feel like my feelings towards this game was helped with needing to wait a year, as it did give me time to come to terms with it. I’m still carrying a bit of my disappointment still, don’t get me wrong, but I still enjoyed my time with it and I’m glad I got to play World’s End Club. I would recommend waiting on a discount (at least at the $30 range) considering the areas that it was mediocre in though.