World’s End Club (Switch) Review
There is a mantra in visual storytelling to enter a scene late and leave early. This relates to hitting the ground running, so that viewers are immediately interested in what is happening, and then leaving before things get boring. World’s End Club initially succeeds at this, presenting a gripping story about a group of young students thrust into a strange and otherworldly situation, and then trying to get out of it. To describe the situation is to spoil it, so I’ll need to speak generally, but suffice to say that if you’re familiar with titles such as Zero Escape, you’ll have an idea of how the opening of World’s End Club plays.
However, it is important to note that this opening is not how most of the rest of the game plays at all. While it starts out as a horror-lite story, it then moves to something more akin to a road adventure, interspersed with side-scrolling gameplay moments and lots and lots of dialogue. So much dialogue. To the point where an hour of play might not see you controlling a character at all. Gameplay, when it happens, amounts to moving left or right, jumping and occasionally using specific abilities to solve traversal puzzles. There is nothing too taxing involved, although there is a fair bit of trial-and-error as it will often employ trickery that can result in multiple deaths before you are successful. Thankfully, the checkpointing its generous and frustration never becomes too much of an issue.
As you meander across a post-apocalyptic Japan – and the focus of the story is on discovering how this happened while your team was oblivious to it – you’ll encounter one ridiculous situation after another, each strung along on an elastic band of interest that becomes severely stretched. The initial mystery is quickly moved beyond, with new ridiculous and over-the-top situations piled on, until you forget the complexities of this messy ball of fiction and just surrender to riding out the wave.
If you don’t have the tenacity to stick with over-long dialogue and drawn-out exposition, World’s End Club will not be for you. I must admit that my interest dipped extremely low, around one third in. But if you dig this kind of thing, there’s a lot to enjoy. Particularly the bright and vibrant art style and a soundtrack that sounds like Persona meets Dream Theater.
The writing also features a sense of self-awareness, such as references to the mute main character and a general playfulness around the ridiculous situations that unfold. And they are ridiculous. The team is constantly jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, then back into another pan, to another fire, and so on. It is entertaining, but also loses much of its impact as it carries on. If you embrace that going in, World’s End Club will provide an entertaining and original experience. If you are prone to eye-rolling, though, then you will struggle to last beyond the opening hours.
The game features branching points and multiple endings, but I can’t say that I will ever feel the urge to replay it. The convoluted length, and amount of button presses it would require to speed through the dialogue, means that just the thought of doing so is exhausting.
World’s End Club is an entertaining, if wonky, adventure ride where the roof blows off, then the doors, then the bonnet, then someone falls out, then they run into a clothesline full of flapping laundry that blinds the driver, then they drive off a cliff, yet they still keep going, and going, and going, and going.
+ Interesting and original story
+ Great soundtrack
+ Vibrant art style
- Simplistic gameplay
- Overly long dialogue
- Ridiculous plot