As World’s End Club begins, revealing a group of school students held against their will in a game of death, you’d be forgiven for thinking that creators Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi are relying maybe a little too heavily on their previous work, Danganronpa and Zero Escape. But after a cute reveal and some interesting twists, you’ll soon come to realise that World’s End Club is anything but a retelling of any previous work, though in a way it may have been better if it had.
World’s End Club introduces you to the Go-Getters Club, a group of school children who are quickly thrown into a strange end of the world scenario as a giant meteor strikes Tokyo and leaves everyone seemingly done for. Cue a strange underwater theme park and a Harley Quinn-like character who challenges the children to a game of death, which doesn’t go according to plan. The true stakes are quickly revealed as the children escape the undersea lair to reveal a world that’s been silenced, with numerous X-shaped UFO’s floating in the sky, leading silent protagonist Reycho and the rest of the cast on a road-trip across Japan to discover the truth behind this bizarre turn of events.
Go-Go Magic Go-Getters...
The story itself is World’s End Club’s strongest asset, that much is clear given the talent behind the scenes. The Go-Getters are a likeable enough bunch despite being a collection of obvious anime tropes, from the overweight kid more interested in food to the nerdy timid child and the bratty know-it-all. You’ll have seen these character designs almost everywhere else, but the Go-Getters manage to come together thanks to some clever dialogue moments, and I found myself endeared to many of them over time, especially Vanilla.
You might see many of World’s End Club’s series of twists and turns across its 20 hour or so story coming from a mile away, but they play out well enough that it remains interesting across that playtime. You’ll be introduced to some other strange characters here and there and not everything is as it seems, with a few key moments left for you to decide in order for the rest of the story to play out (there’s a few different endings based on these decisions). No spoilers, obviously, but one key moment did leave me surprised and rethinking much of what I’d played. You’ll know it when you get to it.
another solid tale from a group of talented writers who certainly enjoy coming up with interesting, outlandish ideas.
Story aside, what follows is a heavy mix of character dialogue, puzzle solving and platform jumping. As Reycho, you’ll have to jump across various hazards, run and hide from monsters and converse with your friends at campsites to slowly bring together the threads of the story. Sadly, despite that strong opening hour that directly mimics Danganronpa in many ways, the promise of the tale falls somewhat flat the further you go in, and that has much to do with the mishmash of gameplay concepts.
A Forced Awakening...
✔️A relatively enjoyable story despite some obvious twists along the way.
✔️The Go-Getters are a colourful bunch that are fun to watch grow over time.
✔️Colourful and bright anime presentation.
❌The gameplay itself doesn’t do the story any favours.
❌Uninspired combat and slow platforming.
It’s unfortunate that this enjoyable and visually creative world has been paired with some clumsy and generally boring action. There’s nothing at all special about the levels where you find yourself jumping or climbing through, despite plenty of dialogue and cut-scenes that help to break things up. It almost feels like the platform parts of the game were left to the last minute to design, Reycho simply doesn’t control as well as he should and it’s a genuine drag when you get to these strangely dull 2D, side-scrolling moments. That’s despite some clear love given to the character animations and enemy designs, some of which are clever and creepy in the best way.
Each character eventually unlocks an ‘Awakened Ability’ that allows them to interact with the world or defeat enemies with crazy overpowered special moves. Reycho can throw a fast ball special using whatever he finds on the ground, Mowchan can turn into an unbeatable ball of iron and roll into enemies to stop them dead in their tracks, and so on. These abilities largely play into various obstacles in areas where they become available and they do feel rather powerful, but despite how they come about narratively in empowering each character they never truly felt like they empowered me as a player.
There’s very little combat to the game beyond that, as you run back and forth solving various puzzles or finding items to progress, running away from whatever prey that you can’t fight just yet. The puzzles themselves are mildly clever in places, though being stuck on a 2D field of view means you’ll be doing a fair bit of back and forth and not in a memorable Metroid like way. In truth, World’s End Club would have done well to either leave all of these elements behind and focus solely on being a narrative experience, or double-down on the adventure portion and create a more enjoyable open world environment to explore, maybe even a turn-based RPG.
World’s End Club originally released last year on Apple Arcade as a shorter experience, ending on a cliff-hanger that was only going to be resolved here on Nintendo Switch. If you’ve been to see what happens you shouldn’t be disappointed, it’s another solid tale from a group of talented writers who certainly enjoy coming up with interesting, outlandish ideas. It’s just a shame that Kodaka, Uchikoshi and the teams at Too Kyo Games and Grounding, Inc. couldn’t tighten up the rest of its concepts to do World’s End Club’s story justice, instead delivering a rather simplistic, uninteresting adventure to play beyond the intriguing narrative that lives within it.
Ultimately, it’s all let down by many attempts to expand into more traditional adventure fare, it just didn’t come together satisfyingly enough for me to justify its current Switch price point. World’s End Club is a story I’d much rather watch unfold within a different medium than try to play within.
World’s End Club (ワールズエンドクラブ Wāruzu Endo Kurabu), originally titled Death March Club (デスマーチクラブ Desu Māchi Kurabu), is a puzzle action-adventure video game developed by Too Kyo Games and Grounding Inc. and published by Izanagi Games.