Our World Is Ended
Developed By: Red Entertainment
Published By: PQube
Category: Visual Novel
Release Date: 04.18.19
I’ve only recently come to the visual novel genre. I’ve found it to be a bit of a mixed bag overall, but in general my enjoyment of the genre comes from how interested I was in the story and setting. I’m a sucker for sci-fi and fantasy concepts, so Our World Is Ended for the Nintendo Switch seemed right up my alley at first blush. It features an alternate reality, an outrageous cast of characters, and some pretty art. The concept of the main story is really cool, but some of the characters and their interactions with other characters are… troublesome.
Our World Is Begun
Judgement 7, a small game development studio, is hard at work testing a new altered reality program with its custom headsets… or rather, part-time assistant director/company whipping boy Reiji is. In the hot July sun. After company head Owari-san exhibits his pervy ambitions for his studio’s creation, the program goes haywire and shows Reiji a vision of the studio’s members crucified bodies… it’s not pleasant. Owari-san brushes the whole thing off as a glitch, and a few days later, when he has double-checked his code, he gets (almost) the whole development team together to test the program. The program glitches out again, but this time there is no apocalyptic imagery or crucifixion. That doesn’t stop the misfits of Judgement 7 from getting caught up in a complicated plot to save the real world from their alternate world, though, and that’s where the game gets interesting. Unfortunately, there is a big aspect of the game that holds it back quite a bit.
I’m Too Sexy For Good Taste
I’m not against sexual content or sexual humor in the media I consume. Sometimes it can be a fun way to show some camaraderie between characters, spark a romantic subplot, or even a way to develop conflict within a group. Our World Is Ended does not use sexual humor in a responsible, fun way. It’s actually pretty icky, overall. Female characters are directly told that they are only valued relative to the size of their breasts, and only one of them seems to have any problem with that. The rest of the cast just laugh her off and make fun of her more modest bust. There’s also the more traditional skeevy anime game content, like a lot of aggressively sexual, boundary-breaking dialogue that just slides away without comment and the overly perverted authority figure delivering that dialogue.
I’ve been consuming anime, manga, and Japanese games for a long time. That sort of stuff I described is uncomfortable, sure, but I’ve learned how to weigh that against a work’s other merits for the most part. Moreover, in the beginning of the game, all of this content is centered around a group of adults in a close-knit social circle; while an outsider may find it uncomfortable, it’s possible that those in the group accept it as part of the group’s dynamic. No, it’s not until the introduction of Tatiana, a middle-schooler, that the game’s sexual humor becomes unbearable. I don’t want to go too far into details, but suffice it to say that the group’s belief that Reiji will attempt to make sexual advances on Tatiana becomes a running gag, and it’s pretty gross. I suppose it’s worth pointing out that Reiji never attempts something like what is described, and his internal monologues make it clear that he would never do anything like that, which I suppose is to the game’s credit. But that fact that it is such a major part of the game’s humor is just plain gross and makes playing the game extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. And then later on when we find out that the only female that doesn’t think she should be judged by her breast size has a thing for little boys… well. The game attempts to rationalize it with some pseudo-psychological BS, but the whole situation was just so far gone at this point that I had a very hard time continuing with the game.
New World Experience
Despite the game’s sexual content being very off-putting, the remainder of the game frequently hits on a geek level. Early on, when the team is first trapped together in the virtual world, they realize that they cannot leave Asakusa, an area in Tokyo where J7’s HQ is located. Walking off the east side of the neighborhood resets them to the western side, which the team names the “RPG Map Phenomenon,” a reference to old JRPGs like Final Fantasy where the world map wraps around on its edges. Another character, who chooses the name Iruka No. 2 and is the primary writer and story developer for J7, is a constant source of nerdly enthusiasm. He lives in a fantasy world he creates on the spot every time he opens his mouth. I often found myself relating to his immersion in the worlds he creates – when I wasn’t grimacing as he enabled his boss’s unsavory behavior. That’s the real disappointment of Our World Is Ended; it’s full of fun, relatable (mostly, except for the gross stuff), geek-friendly characters and adventure that is far too frequently punctuated by wildly uncomfortable sexual humor. Oh, and the very frequent typos didn’t help either, but they didn’t bother me as much as the gross stuff.
Save Our Story Branches
Branching storylines are a pretty standard trope for visual novels. Our World Is Ended creates branches via the Selection of Soul System. It’s an interesting but somewhat flawed way to add a timed element to your story choices. It isn’t universal for all of your choices; sometimes you get a regular, untimed selection of three choices. During an SoS event the choices scroll by at different speeds and font sizes, which makes it difficult to make a selection in the first place. Do I wait for a second and see if a better choice comes along? How can I make a choice on a response when sometimes I can’t even see the whole sentence before choosing? Choices are supposed to give players more control over the story, while the SoS System seems to take some of that control away due to its irregular scrolling.
Our World is Pretty
Visual novels don’t really move, so the quality of their graphics is totally dependent on having an attractive art style. Our World Is Ended is blessed with a bright, colorful style that fills its world with energy and life despite not having any motion. The character designs are vibrant and interesting. The backgrounds are detailed and well-drawn, but sometimes lack the liveliness of the character portraits. The music is funky, upbeat, and generally a pleasure to experience. More importantly, the game has an anime-style intro, a la Persona or the Tales series, complete with a catchy J-Pop theme song. The game is also fully voice acted (Japanese only), and each of the actors does a fine job imbuing their characters with personality and vivacity. The voice actor for Iruka No. 2 gives an especially great performance; he really commits to Iruka’s over-the-top declarations and/or exclamations. I have my problems with the writing, but the remainder of the art direction is spot-on.
Our World Is Ended has no touch or motion controls, so you can play it docked or undocked as you prefer. Normally I’d say that the visual novel genre is perfect for playing on the go – like during a commute or something – because it doesn’t require that much concentration. However, due to some of the game’s more questionable content, I wouldn’t recommend playing it in public. The visuals are pretty enough that seeing them on a TV isn’t a terrible idea, too. This is just a way-too-long way of saying I have no strong recommendation between playing docked or undocked.
TL;DR: The vibrant art and interesting sci-fi premise are frequently overshadowed by deeply uncomfortable sexual content.