I take a look at the delightfully eclectic action-adventure puzzler, The World Next Door by Rose City Games!
A Rosey Spring Morn
Good morning backloggers (it’s the afternoon now)! This is what happens when I take all day to write something! Regardless, it’s Monday and spring is in the air! The grass is getting greener and all the foliage is starting to overtake your lawn! So that means lawn work is just around the corner as well! But we won’t worry about that today, because it’s rainy, I have work and more importantly, there’s gaming to be done! This is The Backlog Odyssey after all! So get your gaming in now, before it gets nice outside and you have to got out there and do those chores you’re supposed to be doing. Then you’ll just feel guilty for not doing them.
Welcome back everyone! Today is going to be a special Daily Backlog because the fine folks over at Rose City Games and VIZ Media sent me a review code for the fantastically unique The World Next Door! So, like a good backlogger I binged it all weekend so I can report back to all of you. And let me tell ya, it’s a pretty great game (spoilers I know), but we’ll get to that soon.
Firstly, I just want to say… actually I got nothing else. So let’s just get right to the review!!!
Knock Knock Knockin’ on The World Next Door
The World Next Door is an eclectic mix of match-3 puzzling and a narrative driven action-adventure developed by the indie studio Rose City Games and published by the anime/manga connoisseurs VIZ Media! Oh, and it happens to be VIZ Media’s first foray into the gaming space! Which is super exciting because I’ve been a fan of the anime and manga that they’ve published for years! And to be perfectly honest, The World Next Door fits right in because it has all the anime mannerisms you’ve come to love with a distinct western aesthetic.
In The World Next Door you play as Jun, a teenage girl who has longed to visit the mysterious world of Emrys. A world that coincides with our own and is inhabited by a race of people that can control the magical energies that thrive just beneath the surface. The only problem is that the portal connecting these two worlds only opens once every 20 years. Luckily, Jun has won the lottery to visit Emrys and now she can spend a day with her newly found friends! But after spending too much time sightseeing, our masked heroine is unable to make it back to the portal in time before it closes and now she’s trapped on Emrys. Unfortunately, humans are unable to survive for more than a few days on this world, so now Jun needs to act fast and figure out how to get home! Little does everyone know though, that Jun has a secret that may help her re-open the portal!
Like a Cool Breeze
I think what I like the most about The World Next Door is that from top to bottom, this game just makes you feel good. It’s chill and easy to get into and I had an absolute blast playing it with my wife. Everything from the graphics, to the character designs to the music just work together so well. It won’t take you long to realize that Rose City Games really put their hearts into creating the world of Emrys. I was initially hesitant about the dialog however, expecting it to be very “I’m an adult trying to write a teenager” but it was all very sincere and well written. And funny too! Each of the characters had their own personalities that you came to love and they all played off of each other perfectly. Like Horace, the brash delinquent who apparently loves fireballs or Rainy the timid and colorful pushover who just wants everyone to get along.
With The World Next Door being a narrative focused game, you’ll get the opportunity to make dialog choices (with cute emoji associated with them!) that’ll branch the conversation in one way or another. Though I’m not too sure how much of an effect they actually have on the story. I mostly say that because the game is pretty short and I don’t think they could really diverge from the main plot all that much. Which I very much enjoyed, but was a bit disappointed (and confused) with how abruptly it ended. It’s not a huge complaint or anything, short games these days are more than welcome, but it just left me with wanting more! I guess Rose City Games will just need to make me a sequel! *cheeky wink*
It’s All in How You Match It
Story aside though, it’s The World Next Door’s gameplay that really sets it apart from all of the other games I’ve played so far this year. So, instead of your typical action-adventure game where you’ll be exploring dungeons and hacking and slashing your way through hordes of enemies. The World Next Door does it a bit differently. You’ll still be exploring dungeons,(shrines in this case) but instead of hacking and slashing, you’ll be casting spells to defeat your enemies by matching the various symbols you’ll find on the floor during a battle. It really makes the encounters dynamic and exciting and figuring out the best way to arrange these symbols to maximize your damage (or healing) is truly rewarding.
The battle mechanics have a very similar feel to something like Puzzle Quest, minus the whole RPG thing. Honestly, The World Next Door is closer to what I would have wanted Puzzle Quest to be. You know, something a bit more story focused and less about leveling and grinding. You’re not alone during your expeditions into the dungeons either because you can enlist the help of your friends. Well, they’ll be helping you indirectly at least. Instead of them being on the actual play field with you, you’ll use the “Essence” symbols that’ll appear after matching four or more standard spell symbols to trigger their abilities. And you’ll do that by arranging them into specific shapes. Their abilities can be quite devastating! They all definitely help in a pinch and I would recommend you experiment with a variety of characters to figure out which ones suite the situation best. It’s really a great feature and it adds an extra layer of complexity to the battles that I really appreciate. It kind of reminds me of how the spell casting worked in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow on the Nintendo DS! And that’s saying something! I only wish there was more to it!
A Taste of Things to Come
And that my friends is the theme of this review! The World Next Door has all of these great and wonderful features, but they all just seem to be cut short. Like they could have been fleshed out a bit more and could have been less abrupt. All I want is for it to last longer! Just when it feels like you’re really getting into it and it’s starting to get good – it ends. I mean, you’ll beat each of the dungeons so quickly you’ll be asking yourself if you missed something. And that’s the thing, you didn’t! There’s nothing to miss. Not even a little secret hidden in the corner or anything! I mean, you’ll get the occasional side quest or a puzzle to solve, but they’re few and far between. That and there isn’t much of a reward behind them anyways.
Truthfully though, The World Next Door doesn’t really need all of that filler to make it good, because it’s already a delightful game. But I think with a bit more fleshing out and a few more added features Rose City Games could really take this game from a fun little experience to a fantastic gem. And what it has really done is make me super excited for what they’ll do next, both in the world of Emrys and with other ventures they choose to explore! And if you fancy yourself the adventuring type with a penchant for puzzlers then I urge you to check it out too! Especially if you desire a fantastical story of magical teenagers from another world! In the meantime though, I’m going to dive into this prelude comic that came with my copy of the game to get one last taste of this world before I have to say “so long”!
If you’re interested in checking out The World Next Door you can find it on Steam and on the Nintendo Switch right now! I’ll leave some linkity links below:
74 cubed is 405224
Well my friends, I think that’ll do it for today! It was truly a surprise to receive The World Next Door and it was a delight to play! So, I just want to thank Rose City Games for giving me the opportunity to share it with all of you! And stay tuned because I’ll be getting back to the Daily Backlog grind tomorrow with more backlog shenanigans! Which includes two more completions on the backlog! Oh and firing up the almost cringe worthy, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure!
Until then, have a great rest of your Monday!
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
Mario and Rabbids (Switch)
Total Backlogged Games: 731 …I’m going to need more dialog choices…
Total Completed Games: 20 …I match 3’d those completions!!
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And you can keep tabs on my backlog by checking out the Backlog Odyssey Backloggery game list!