27 May 2021 10:18 AM +00:00

World’s End Club Review: Not Quite Danganronpa

World’s End Club has a lot to live up to. Coming from the creator of Danganronpa and one of the lead directors on the Zero Escape Series, the game seemed to be a match made in “death game” heaven.

Though it’s dripping with charm, clunky platforming and an uneven narrative make it hard to love.

Read More: Biomutant Review: Death of the Wild

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Subverting Expectations

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World’s End Club’s story goes far beyond the formula seen in similar games and is much more lighthearted than what many might expect. The story follows the Go-Getters Club, a group of 12 sixth graders, trying to survive a number of crazy situations.

With Kotaro Uchikoshi from Zero Escape and Kazutaka Kodaka from Danganronpa heading up development on World’s End Club, many expected it to be another visual novel with characters competing in a “death game,” and while this makes up the first hour or so of World's End Club, it certainly takes a turn.

A visual novel at heart, World’s End Club will take players on an insane narrative journey. Unfortunately, however, the game has a bit of a “deus ex machina” problem, constantly setting up problems and plot points only for them to be instantly fixed or changed with little explanation. When they are explained, they’re normally so absurd that you wish they hadn’t been.

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It’s All About Character, Baby

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What saves World’s End Club from being another cheesy, forgettable anime romp is its cast of characters. With amazing designs from character designer Take, clever writing, and an excellent English translation, World’s End Club’s main cast will surely win over players by the time the credits roll. They may appear to be based on stereotypes at a first glance (and they definitely are), their unique traits shine through and really make the game worth playing.

World’s End Club is fully voice acted in both English and Japanese. Something about the English cast just felt off, so I recommend playing in Japanese for a better experience. Those looking to have the game “autoplay” through its story scenes have the option, though it frequently will cut characters off in the middle of their lines, rendering its utility somewhat limited.

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Go-Getter Some Better Gameplay

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What really kills World’s End Club is its gameplay. Intended as a combination of platformer and visual novel, it succeeds far better at the latter.

The platforming sections are absolutely awful; characters move at a snail’s pace, combat encounters feel cheap, boss battles are dreadfully boring, and puzzles are far too easy. You could cut all of these sections out and the game would not lose anything.

World’s End Club was originally released on mobile, and it shows. It feels as if the game is always holding itself back, with low-poly graphics and environments constantly taking the tension out of situations. This also probably explains the overly simplistic, boring gameplay, which would feel more at home on an iPhone than a Nintendo Switch.

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Verdict

World’s End Club is almost a good game. Fantastic character designs, a loveable cast, and clever writing will make you want to love it, but an unsatisfying narrative and boring gameplay make it hard to get through.

2.5/5

Review copy provided by the publisher

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch