Developed By : Arc System Works / ToyBox Inc
Published By : Arc System Works
Category : Visual Novel, Adventure
Release Date : May 02, 2019
For as long as I’ve been gaming, there are times when I think about it and feel like I’ve tried just about everything, at least in the sense of the genres that are out there. But, then I sit back and realize that for the most part, there is one that I’ve pretty much avoided, and it always surprises me that I’ve avoided this particular one. The only thing that rivals my video game collection, is my book collection, so it’s a wonder I’ve never stepped foot into the realm of visual novels. However, with the seeming combination of visual novel with the genres of romance (as I feel is almost always the case with VN’s) and a mystery about the end of the world, Worldend Syndrome on the Nintendo Switch seemed like the perfect introduction for something new.
Things begin as you wake up on your train ride to Mihate Town. Or rather, you are woken up by a neighboring passenger, whom you soon learn is Yukino Otonashi. She is headed to Mihate for research, while you are heading there for school and to take up residence in your uncle’s mansion. The train arrives and you go your separate ways, you get to your uncle’s mansion to see stuff strewn about, but decide to shrug it off and head to your room for some sleep. In the middle of the night, you’re awoken to the news that apparently you won’t be the only one living in the mansion, as you find a strange girl laying beside you in bed.
In the morning, you come to understand it’s your cousin, Maimi Kusunose, whom you’ll also be attending school with. Initially she wishes for this fact to remain a secret, but later that same day she ends up blowing the secret herself. After going through the motions of school and meeting some of your fellow classmates, you end up being thrust into joining the Mystery Club, an afterschool club that is run by your teacher Kaori Yamashiro with the intent of investigating mysteries in and around Mihate Town. The club itself is small, as Kaori wants to keep it close-knit until it is recognized by the school as an official club.
The clubs other purpose is to assist Kaori due to her recent rise in fame. Her first novel that she had published, titled Worldend has surged in popularity. It tells the tale about a local legend of the Yomibito, a spirit that is resurrected and slowly goes insane, causing strife throughout the town and eventually killing the people of the town. This occurrence is said to happen every 100 years, so naturally you’ve arrived in town 100 years after the last known instance of it happening.
At first, Worldend Syndrome starts off extremely slowly. You move to Mihate Town at the beginning of June, and you’ll spend your first run of the game passing your time until the end of July. You’ll meet and develop relationships with the other members of the Mystery Club, you’ll meet detective Ryoko Ryuzaki who is investigating a couple of coincidental cases of missing students who end up dead, one of which was supposed to become a member in the Club. You’ll explore Mihate for all it’s worth, and as a player you’ll be doing a lot of reading and…not very much decision making. For the two month’s at the start of the game, you’ll experience days intermittently. Sometimes you’ll play days back-to-back, other times you’ll skip ahead by almost a week. That is, until you reach July 29th.
On that day, you’ll start off by having a short conversation with Kaori about the club, and how she wishes to invite more people in but isn’t sure, so she asks for your advice, but you’re only given the option of agreeing with her decision. Next, you’re treated to a sped up package that covers the month of August, and how things fell down extremely hard after you agreed with Kaori. A movie that had been in production based on Kaori’s book has been halted, more students have turned up dead, and the cap off the end of August, you walk into a scene at your uncle’s mansion that can only be described as a nightmare.
Congratulations! You’ve finished the game and received the worst ending! Don’t worry, it’s all a part of the game’s mechanics. After you finish the game, you’ll reload and find yourself back on July 29th having the same conversation again with Kaori, only this time you’re finally ready to experience Worldend Syndrome. Before I talk about it though, I should point out that the “entire” time it takes to get to this point is not that long at all, so don’t feel like you’re going to be committing tens of hours just to get here.
Now, here is the main portion of the game. Without directly telling you, you’re basically given the month of August to try and right all of the wrongs that you witnessed in the highlight reel from hell. Each day, you are allowed to interact with three time periods : morning, afternoon, and night (shown in-game as AM, PM, and night). During these time periods, literally anything can happen. It ranges from absolutely nothing at all and you just visually take in the couple of sites that are at that location (for instance if you decide to go to the forest, there are two sites to visit there : the wood entrance, and the bridge).
The other possibility is running into a character. When this happens, you can either experience a crucial moment in the story, you could gain a mission for that specific character, or you could experience nothing at all and just speak to them in passing. Missions are the game’s way of advancing the romance / dating-sim area of Worldend Syndrome. Most missions will come with a time restraint, so if you complete it, things could move further, and naturally things won’t if you fail.
This is a game that takes multiple playthroughs in order for you to experience everything, so if you want to see all possible endings as far as the story and each of the potential relationships, prepare to strap in for many journeys. The good thing about it is that if you’re not interested in the romance side of things, you don’t really need to complete those missions that pop up, since the main push is saving the world.
As someone who has never before truly experienced a visual novel, this was a great introduction. I was extremely weary at first because of how slow things started off, but once I hit the “ending” point, and saw the game truly open up I was sold on it completely. The price point might seem a bit steep for such a minimalized gaming experience, but I can honestly say that if you enjoy story-rich things, Worldend Syndrome is completely worth it. If you think about it, new novels generally release for about $30 – $35 so this isn’t that far off.