Developer: Spicy Tails
Publisher: Sekai Project
Platform: PC (Steam)
ESRB: Not rated (T suggested)
Release Date: May 6, 2014
It seems that the acceptance of visual novels has grown a ton over the past few years. Before more game-like titles such as Phoenix Wright and 999 hit the scene, most Western players were either unaware of their existence or put off by the genre“s reputation. Now, Steam Greenlight regularly accepts visual novels such as WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01 to their storefront. How does this game stand out and is it the kind that newbies to the genre will want to pick up? Well, that all depends on what you expect out of visual novels.
First, let“s go over what kind of visual novel this game is. It is a 100% story driven experience without any sort of gameplay elements wedged in. This is very typical of visual novels although most of the titles released here tend to have various puzzles or other features to make them more appealing to the audience. Unlike others in the genre, it also has no moments for the player to make a decision. Most of the time there is at least one choice to be made over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA but that“s not the case here. As such, you“re fully beholden to the story to provide an interesting experience.
So what“s the story about? The focus is on a young man who has been living on his own for a few months after running away from home. Although it might not sound that unusual, the backstory helps enhance the storyline. You see, this all takes place on the moon after it has been colonized. People back on Earth immigrate to the moon for a new start just as it had once been the case for the United States. Still developing, the moon has areas of great prosperity but also areas where people struggle to make ends meet. Apparently, living on the moon is not a solution to humanity“s dependence on currency.
However, our young runaway has been making money via stock trading, completely ignoring school or any other responsibilities in the process. Soon enough he finds himself in a bind and is saved by a woman named Lisa who takes him into her care. Because he doesn“t want to be sent home, he is christened with a new name—Hal. His hope is that staying with Lisa will be just a temporary stumble on his route to the lavish city. Things don“t turn out as expected, though, when Hal finds himself faced with Lisa“s other tenant Hagana.
Hagana is about the same age, but the two are so opposed that arguments constantly flare up. Although Hagana could be at fault sometimes, it seems that most of the blame lies with Hal. For whatever reason, Hal is a truly unlikeable guy. As we play from his perspective, players are often subjected to his completely off-the-wall notions about women. It does eventually subside, but is fairly surprising to see such an unlikeable character at the helm.
Yes, Hal has reasons for his constant temper and his uncontrollable greed. Yes, he also manages to do things that prove himself to have a tad bit of decency but he“s still a tough character to process. In a way that“s a bold move for any visual novel because it gambles on players being able to stick with it despite a despicable, unrelatable character at the forefront of WORLD END ECONOMiCA.
Regardless of how you feel about the lead“s attitude problems, the storyline itself proves engaging. Hal“s determination to make millions off stock trading sounds like a flight of fancy for a teenager but it“s a neat ride all the same. Things get more interesting once he must enlist the aid of the person he“d hate to work with most. Of course, this is Hagana as she has a hidden talent that can aid him tremendously. From there, things really take off story-wise, although a tenuous romantic thread introduced later seems forced.
The storyline is not steeped in economic theory (despite the name) but it does definitely have its fair share of investing â€œshop talkâ€ which might bore some readers. It also paints an ethically ambiguous plot point as a really great thing which seems quite odd. Eventually Hal stops being as detestable as he was at the start, but it is a shame he couldn“t have shown a modicum of decency to begin with. In some ways, Lisa and Hagana prove the main reason to play ahead in the story because they“re much easier to take interest in.
Provided you have an interest in stock trading (and maybe even mathematical theories) then WORLD END ECONOMiCA will prove an interesting, if sometimes difficult, read. Anyone who tuned out during economics class might not find it worth playing though. The hardest reasons to recommend the experience are simply because the main character is so unlikable and that it is purely a digital story with no player input. Still, there“s something interesting about being forced to deal with a character who is antithetical of typical visual novel leads. Hopefully those who purchase will find themselves wrapped up over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA“s 8 to 12 hour storyline.
+ Unique storyline compared to the average visual novel
+ Cool world and artwork
- Contemptible lead character
- Zero choices to be made by the player
Overall Score: 6 (out of 10)
WORLD END ECONOMiCA is a visual novel with a very unique story to tell for those who can bear the lead character.