Viz Media’s made a reputation for itself by means of anime and manga publishing, however with The World Next Door, the first title to launch underneath its new video game imprint, it seems to be like the corporate has an excellent likelihood at breaking into one more discipline. Because from what I performed of the mixture action-puzzle-visual novel throughout this yr’s Game Developers Conference, developer Rose City Games has one thing endearingly sudden on its arms.
The World Next Door is much more difficult than its easy pitch: A human lady named Jun is transported to a fantasy world, set with demons and different creatures. Although they’re welcoming to her, Jun must get out of this “world subsequent door” — if she spends an excessive amount of time there, she’ll be unable to return to her actual dwelling … and he or she’ll die within the course of.
This story performs out as a collection of lengthy, unvoiced visible novel sequences, the place Jun and the fantasy world teenagers who’ve adopted her hash out a plan to get her to security. There are occasional dialogue choices to select from, every one outlined by a corresponding emotion. It’s a pleasant contact to what is in any other case a system that’s par for the course. Nicer nonetheless is the persona already obvious within the writing: a demon skull-headed monster named Horace is a specific standout, dropping fiery quips in the midst of critical conversations.
But this finally quantities to numerous studying, which I discussed to the Rose City Games crew guiding the “pre-alpha construct” demo. The hope, they stated, is to introduce some minor voice appearing to fill out the relative silence; in any other case, count on The World Next Door to stay a text-heavy game.
Breaking up that textual content is a battle system that appeared at first jarring and complex. As is the norm with any fantasy game, Jun’s received to make use of some magic and struggle off some monsters. That, I can roll with. The battlefield isn’t pulled from a well-recognized role-playing game, although; it’s as an alternative a puzzle board full of multicolored runes, every one representing a distinct aspect and talent.
And I don’t imply that it simply seems to be like a puzzle board; profitable in The World Next Door is quite a bit like profitable in a game like Bejeweled or Tetris Attack. You need to string no less than three like runes collectively to unleash assaults of various energy; if you happen to’re too sluggish to seize your required string, your enemy may steal your combo from underneath you.
This isn’t one thing I’ve personally skilled in a game like this earlier than, and that’s what attracted Rose City Games to testing out this fight system.
“This type of, like, match-three puzzle-battler concept is one thing that we’ve had in our notes for a very long time, and we actually wished to strive it with one thing,” director Corey Warning stated whereas I performed my first battle, eyebrows barely furrowed with each confusion and a aggressive drive. “The idea of those magic characters with completely different skills, we thought it will be cool to do.”
Throughout the game, gamers will be capable of assemble a celebration and ship in different characters to struggle off enemies in one-on-one fights. Just as that takes time to do, so too does getting a cling of the right way to really win in a struggle. But the comparisons that Warning threw out — Tetris Attack and Puzzle Fighter amongst them — helped make clear for me the expectation right here. You actually have to take a look at every struggle like it’s a multiplayer game of Bubble Bobble or Puyo Puyo, and also you’re sending over cleared items to topple your opponent.
From that time, I used to be capable of chip away on the ghoulish enemy’s well being bar and construct up some highly effective combos. As enjoyable as this all was, it was laborious to attach the dots between The World Next Door’s anime-like story — particularly contemplating its highschool forged and a relationship-building system that sounds harking back to the Persona collection — and a battle system that’s pulled from video games which have zero story to them.
So far, The World Next Door appears to be juggling two dissimilar issues in a single bundle. That’s one of many challenges Rose City Games is working to unravel on this early improvement interval, nonetheless.
“[We’re working on] contextualizing how the battles type of match into the narrative, so it doesn’t really feel like, ‘Oh, now I’m doing Tetris Attack,” stated Warning. “The design of the game and people features is one thing we’re nonetheless making an attempt to work out.”
Threading that needle will probably be key, or else the staff runs the danger of doing a disservice to 2 intriguing halves of an entire game. While the visible novel sections may use some truncation, the possibility to construct out characters’ relationships means that we’ll develop to have a private stake within the story. Most of all, there’s numerous promise to that quirky battle system — particularly with a deliberate versus mode possible extending its lifespan.
Even with some reservations, The World Next Door appears simply distinctive sufficient to work. But it’s an extended methods away from completion; there’s no launch date deliberate but for this PC title. Until Rose City Games and Viz Media are prepared to indicate it off once more, the screenshots under are all we’ve received.