Magic and mystery await!
Recently, I was able to get my hands on a review code for The World Next Door, Viz Media’s first foray into the video game realm. Viz Media is known for bringing the masses in the US some popular franchises such as Pokémon and Sailor Moon( their distribution rights) Anyway, this time they’re trying their hand in the video game business with the World Next Door and it’s a pretty fun time! Let’s get right into it!
You play as the lead character Jun who is having a tough time on Earth and wouldn’t you know it, there is a lottery to travel to Emrys the “Planet Next Door.” She has been having a rough time on Earth, not fitting in and really wants to go to Emrys. It also doesn’t hurt that she has been talking online with her best friend, Liza, who happens to be Emryn-descent. Well, wouldn’t you know it that Jun wins the lottery and gets to spend the day on Emrys and gets to meet her friend in person and all her friends. But that’s when all the fun or trouble, depending on how you look at it starts. Jun and friends decide to head down to one of the forbidden areas, the shrines which will be important in the story, but they get attacked by a monster and get back to the portal late, thus trapping Jun on Emrys.
That’s no big deal except for the fact that humans can only survive on Emrys for a few days and Jun’s a human! You will go back to the shrine and explore other ones to figure out the mystery of the portal as well as to find out if it was an accident that you were stranded on Emrys. As I mentioned before you travel into shrines to battle monsters but you might be asking, how do you fight these monsters? You use the power of runes or in simple terms, magic to fight the monsters you run into. There are quite a few forms of magic that you can use during battle and it’s a very simple process to use. You need to match three or more like symbols and activate them! You can link more for more damage as well as casting spells right next to each other for more damage.
One spell is a lightning attack that hurts enemies on the spaces the rune is on whereas another one is a giant fireball. Some of the monsters charge at you quickly and attack in groups so learn the best attack strategies for each situation and be quick! If you die in battle you can always restart in the shrine as they aren’t too large but it’s a little bit of a hassle to start a tough battle over again. Over the course of the adventure, your friend pool gets a little bigger and you can assign special a special attack for one of your friends. You can’t bring all of your friends into shrines so pick carefully. You might need a special attack in battle but I didn’t find myself using those special attacks too often as compared to casting stronger regular spells. You will be put the test during boss fights as they’re much larger than the regular monsters and will attack in a different way.
The patterns are learnable but will you have the time to learn them before the enemy gets you? You have the ability to heal at healing wells in the shrines but you can’t overuse them as they’re a one time use. There are puzzles when you’re in the shrine during the initial exploration of the shrine and then there’s a puzzle in the shrine when you return to it and that’s pretty tough to figure out. You’ll be able to figure them out but it will take some thought on your part. You can get hints for the puzzles but they really only give you a slight hint like what the puzzle is actually asking you to do rather than how to do it. You’re really on your own for these puzzles and you have to think or happen to stumble upon the right solution.
The World Next Door isn’t all about fighting monsters and puzzles, it’s also about interacting with Emryn folk. Your friends that are trying to help you get back to Earth don’t want anyone else to know you’re human and that lasts about two seconds but you’ll be able to text with them because for your cell phone works on Emrys, you must have a good data plan! Anyway, after you defeat a shrine, you head back to Liza’s dorm and sleep for the night. After that you can text with three of your friends and they usually give you some interesting information but they can also give you nothing to work with. There are small side quests to find during gameplay that range from finding a comic book or a hat to meeting someone by the portal after dark.
You can speak with the school kids but be careful you’re your answers as your answers change your interactions with them. This rings true with your inner circle of friends too; make sure you have conversations that are truthful and meaningful with them! The controls are simple for the game and never feel too challenging. That could be said for the puzzles and battles too. My only issue with The World Next Door is the length of the game as it really only lasts about 4-6 hours. The writing felt perfect for a group of high school “kids” and would have been nice to see get fleshed out more in a longer story. It’s these reasons that I’m giving The World Next Door for the Nintendo Switch a 9/10. I would like to thank Viz Media for the review code.