Our World is Ended Review
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4
Release: 18th April 2019 // 28th May 2019 (PCs)
This year truly has a lot of visual novel releases early on, many of which I´ll try to cover of course! One of those offensives is by PQube, that release their third one this year already with Our World is Ended,
Instead of an avid gamer or otaku who´s sucked into a game, Our World is Ended presents us with a whole different setting: We´re part of the actual development team. Naturally, in order to not overburden the plot, this “studio” called Judgment 7 consists of only a handful of colourful personalities developing their next game. Having already shipped a few, Reji is a new member helping out at directing their latest entry and serves as the main character as well. However, when programmer Owari develops a new augmented reality headset and its accompanying “W.O.R.L.D” program, able to alter the reality as we see it, Reji soon experiences a mysterious vision: A world where his friends are imprisoned or dead, a destroyed world and a completely hopeless future. Was this all just a bug or a horrifying reality?
Despite the rather normal premise, Our World is Ended is far from being a simple mystery visual novel. Through its sci-fi elements and game development inspired setting, one of the core aspects is the blurring line between game and reality. Given, this too is an idea commonly used to express worry around our ever changing world and in the same way here. Yet, the one thing it actually nails most of the time is also the one thing able to carry its slow paced moments and whole premise in a way: Well written game characters. Since these two worlds slowly start to become one for some reason, Judgement 7 is confronted with an array (get it?) of their previous game characters slowly becoming real and coming into the real world.
Those characters all represent a certain stereotype or idea, while serving as a mixture between comedy relief, key story elements and villains. None of them are truly main characters nor get more time than necessary, instead they´re there to entertain without using old game tropes, cringy references or whatnot. I never felt insulted by them, which is something I actually didn´t expect when I read the premise.
What surprised me the most though is the true meat of Our World is Ended: The characters, their dynamics and the story. Every character may seem like another cliche on first glance but soon, the mixture of classic visual novel slice-of-life with the well executed gaming ascept manages to give them more and more personality through their jobs and connections. Seeing the creative output or business conversations through the lens of this rather ideal visualization may not be accurate but gives a new perspective on characters, namely on their achievements as nearly all of them are part of Judgement 7 for a longer time. On top of that it makes a rather surprisingly good job at portraying the dynamics in a “company” where there may be some conflicts, discussion or allegations, but maybe everyone just gets along fine in the end. It´s nowhere near being true to reality but it doesn´t want to be, it tries to add flavour through mimiking reality like you would imagine it in a romantic way, making for an actually refreshing setting.
At the same time Our World is Ended tiks all the right boxes when it comes to rewarding you as well. Even though it doesn´t offer many meaningful choices, which I found rather surprising considering their strong focus on them from time to time, completing each route, a very straightforward process, unlocks new cute scenes between the characters. Similar to chibi spots at the end of a show basically and I love those additions, especially when they explain some rather obscure cross reference or concept never really touched in the main series. Naturally, playing each route is, in itself, already a prize, considering I liked pretty much any character after a while, even the seemingly edgy artist girl, who turned out to be somewhat more of a cutie than I expected.
Our World is Ended looked like a really interesting experience and due to its style and actually well-executed ideas, it is. If you´re not overwhelmed by the colors and can put up with a very “romantic” view of game development, this visual novel is truly a fun trip through a more unique setting, offering a mix of standard tropes, new ideas and a very warm world.
[A Review Code was provided by PQube]