The World Next Door is an Indie Game developed by Rose City Games and releases on Switch, Pc, and Mac on March 28th. But is it a game worth getting?
The story of this game is a pretty straightforward one, nothing too special. It is still a fun story to experience, helped by how well written each character is. There is some interaction on your part in deciding on how Jun, the main character, interacts with her friends. The story starts with Jun getting stuck in Emrys, a world that exists parallel to our own. Now she is trying to find her way back home. Simple, right?
There are, however, multiple endings. In order to experience all of them, you need to play the game again from the very beginning. Unlike similar games where you can start over before you make the game changing choice, you don’t have that option with this game. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. This gives you the opportunity to try different responses that you might have wanted to explore. The first playthrough for me only took about four hours of playtime.
To make it even easier, there is an option to play the game where Jun does not take damage, so you can just focus on the story. Where this game really shines though, is in the world building. When I finished the game, I wanted to do more in the world of Emrys. I wanted to learn more about this world. I wanted to explore more of it. This world is fascinating and worthy of a much longer and bigger game in order to have fun with it.
The game play is built into two parts, the combat, and the “graphic novel”. Starting with combat, you explore shrines which are divided up into rooms. In some of the rooms, you will encounter monsters. Each square on the floor will have a rune, by activating three or more of the same rune, you will cast a spell associated with that rune. The spells get more powerful the more you have together, and you can swap two runes to get the pattern even larger. If you cast one spell, and it happens to be touching another set of runes that is ready to be cast, it empowers that second set, which causes it to deal double damage.
This combat is a cross between several popular mobile games, and it feels intuitive and fun. Each enemy is also unique, there are four boss enemies, and five normal enemies, each having their own attack patterns and skills. You also can choose some of your friends to join you, and use a particular rune to activate their ability, depending on the pattern the rune is when you activate it.
Speaking of friends, when you are not in shrines, you are interacting with your friends and speaking with them to advance the story. You are able to do some small side quests to help them out. Learn more about their personalities and their world. It is here that you are able to decide who Jun responds to different events. Unlike most RPGs, you don’t have a set number of responses, (goodbye paragon/renegade), instead, you have a line of text letting you know what you will say, along with an emoji to let you know the kind of emotion the response will have. This is honestly where most of my time went, not just the dialogue, but the quests as well. It was fun seeing the different personalities of the characters.
Should you buy it?
Now the question is, should you buy it? For a fifteen dollar price, and about six to eight hours to get the full experience, I would say absolutely. The world itself is worth that price and is so well written that I want more of that world, I hope we get more of that world and discover more of what this studio can do.
But on what platform? I played it on a laptop with a controller attached to it. Honestly, I would have prefered it on a Switch. The game is short enough where it is perfect for a car ride and broken up enough where even if it is only for ten minutes, you can play quickly. On a laptop, you can play with just the keyboard, no mouse necessary, but it is still pretty bulky to play. Great game, made even more perfect if it is on the Switch. If you don’t have a Switch, get it anyways on whatever system you do have.
This game has many benefits, and it’s only real flaw is length, and that it left me hungry for more. The areas it lacks are not detrimental, it has a nice soundtrack, as an example, but it is not memorable, I can not remember a single track as I write this. Does that ruin the experience? No, not at all. Bottom line, you need to find a portal to get to Emrys ASAP.