DEMO REVIEW: ‘World’s End Club’ Lays the Foundation (Switch)

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World’s End Club Demo

World’s End Club is a brand new death game heading to the Nintendo Switch in May. First, however, curious players can check out the World’s End Club’s hour or so long demo ahead of its launch, which promises thrills, chills, mysteries, and most importantly, twists!

World’s End Club was developed by Too Kyo Games, which is helmed by Danganronpa series writer Kazutaka Kodaka. In Japan, the title is being published by IzanagiGames. Globally, the title is being produced by NIS America, known for Disgaea, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series, and visual novels like Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. Excitingly, Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi (Zero Escape Series) will be teaming up for this brand new death game filled with action, platforming, and lots and lots of twisty plot!

World’s End Club follows the Go-Getters Club, a group of charming teenage misfits hailing from all over Japan who find themselves trapped in a strange, underwater theme park one day. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be making it to their class trip to Kamakura. Instead, they meet Pielope, a mysterious mascot character-esque who forces them to play a “Game of Fate.” So what’s the kicker, you ask? Well, this “Game of Fate” is a game of life… or death! The Go-Getters will have their friendships tested as they explore this colorfully horrific story and try to escape… or else!

From the start, World’s End Club is an excellent demo. Players have two difficulty levels to choose from: easy and normal. The game also was localized into 17 different languages for the subtitles. All are playable in the demo. They range from three dialects of English—American, British, and Australian—to various other languages such as Turkish, Korean, Cantonese, and many more. However, the voice acting is less robust: players get to listen to the Go-Getters’s voice actors in either Japanese or English. 

Once you’ve got your settings squared away, players are dropped into a side-scrolling platformer that’s pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, this is where World’s End Club starts to falter, as the controls aren’t always responsive and feel a bit sticky sometimes. This can sometimes make characters glitch and repeat actions. For example, if you don’t jump far enough or keep your momentum, characters might glitch into climbing up and down platforms in the opening. That being said, I expect things like this will be patched out fairly early on. Thankfully, that’s not enough to hamper your curiosity as the plot kicks in and the story sends you back to the very beginning of how the Go-Getters end up playing a death game for their literal lives.

World’s End Club is gorgeous, full stop. It’s vividly colored and frequently made me think of the anime Akudama Drive, which creator Kazuta Kodaka also had a hand in. There’s this neat seapunk aesthetic in the theme park that serves as the setting for your time in the demo. It’s a very cool backdrop for your time with Reycho, our silent protagonist, and the rest of the Go-Getters Club.

World’s End Club Demo

The demo can be wrapped up in about an hour, give or take. And actually, that comes into play as you’re on a timer when the game really kicks in. Thankfully, World’s End Club’s in-game timer does stop if you put your Switch to sleep. So you won’t come back and find your time in the “Game of Fate” prematurely ended. Instead, you’ll be able to pick up your gameplay right from where you left off. I really appreciated that as timers can sometimes hinder and harm a demo more than help. 

As much as I enjoyed my time with World’s End Club, I couldn’t help but compare this demo to Danganronpa, one of the most popular death game video game franchises globally. The comparison isn’t helped because Danganronpa is directly tied to Kazuta Kodaka, who became quite well-known outside of Japan specifically for that franchise. It feels cruel to call World’s End Club a rip-off of this popular series, but in many ways, there’s a lot of similarities. Chalk it up to Kodaka being at the helm, though don’t hold it against him.

Thus far, World’s End Club is a neat game with many charming elements, even if it is a bit straightforward. Fans of the death game genre will probably guess some plot points pretty quickly. This may or may not be a letdown, depending on the kind of player you are. Still, World’s End Club has incredibly cute art, bright colors, and a neat world to explore. Hopefully, the larger story beyond the demo will be more robust so that fans of titles like Danganronpa, 999, Gnosia, or even games like A.I.: The Somnium Files won’t have any buyer’s remorse. I’m certainly eager to pick up a copy and see the larger story for myself.

The World’s End Club demo is available now, while the full game will release on May 28, 2021, for the Nintendo Switch. It will be available physically and digitally.

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