NEO: The World Ends With You - Hands-on Video Preview

If words on a digital tapestry are not enough to satisfy your intense craving to learn as much about NEO: The World Ends With You as possible, you’re in luck. Square Enix gave us the opportunity to get our hands on the first two hours of the PS4 version of the game, streamed via Parsec. I’ve thrown together a video of my impressions on the game so far, cut with B-roll provided to RPG Site directly by Square Enix.

Taking place three years after the events of TWEWY, NEO stars protagonist Rindo in a brand new Reapers Game. I wasn’t able to get too good of an idea of what to exactly expect from the game with just these first two hours, but just getting a taste of living in the world was really enough to sell me.

One might think that recreating the aesthetic of an incredibly stylized 2D game into 3D would be incredibly difficult, and they’d likely be right. The important part is that they did so excellently. As I explored Shibuya I felt like the developers of NEO looked directly into my imagination of a TWEWY with an extra dimension added to the formula. 

Shibuya is one of the most important characters for this series, and you can tell the art team put intricate detail into making this 3D adaptation work. The camera perspective is fixed, a design choice that is incredibly underrated by modern standards. The camera can seamlessly go from gliding alongside Rindo to sharply cutting to tight alleyways, giving a sense of scale a city needs.

Battles take the overly complicated system TWEWY was renowned for and simplifies it. While that could be seen as a red flag, like with everything else I saw the transition was a successful one. There’s still a rhythm to combat, but now it’s just easier to get into the beat. You assign each party member a single pin, and that pin ties that action to a button. All of your party works together at once to erase noise, which you can see in the video.

Dialogue and voice acting impressed me immensely, to a degree where I feel it could even surpass the original. The teenagers speak like actual teenagers. If you play JRPGs, you’d likely agree with me how rare it is to see that. With an estimate of 50 hours for a first playthrough, time will tell if the writing stays consistently charming and punchy, but it left a phenomenal first impression nonetheless. 

I’m very much looking forward to Square Enix once again making me feel like a teenager, stuck in my own feelings while listening to some of the catchiest music you’ll find in a game. NEO: The World Ends With You drops July 27, 2021. Make sure to stick with RPG Site for more coverage for the game, including a full review closer to the release.