There are a few things that can quickly kill my interest in a game. One of them is excessive fanservice. In small doses, I’m not necessarily against its inclusion. If the story in a game takes its characters to a beach, for example, you’re inevitably going to see people in swimwear. That’s all well and good. Unfortunately, Our World is Ended is a lengthy, tedious sequence of perverted scenes masquerading as a sensible video game.
To its credit, there’s more to the game than fanservice. The premise behind its story is one of my favorites, and I wish there was more of it in video games. The main cast – a video game development team collectively known as Judgement 7 – inadvertently stumble across a sinister Augmented Reality world while working on their newest project.
There’s clearly a lot of inspiration taken from Steins Gate here – I’m all for the “Oops, we broke reality” narrative – and the concept is immediately appealing. Who created the virtual world? What’s its purpose? As any good story should, it piques your curiosity almost immediately.
The cast themselves, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. Judgement 7 are essentially a step-by-step guide to every generic anime trope out there: there’s the sleazy perv; the misanthropic shut-in; the deluded fantasist; the tomboyish, flat-chested older sister; the airheaded, large-chested younger sister; and, of course, the 13-year-old loli girl, because why not? The protagonist himself, Reiji, is yet another one-dimensional everyman, kept intentionally dull so that players can imagine themselves in their place.
At this point, you might be wondering why I thought it necessary to mention the breast sizes of two of the characters. Believe it or not, breasts are a bafflingly prominent aspect of the story. Almost every conversation in the game, no matter how trivial or dire, manages to shoehorn in talk of characters’ breast sizes. They’re frequently referred to as “mammary weapons”, which is perhaps one of the most juvenile things I’ve ever seen in a video game. There were moments when I was beginning to be truly immersed in the story, only for a crucial revelation or shocking twist to be immediately followed by some puerile boob joke.
It’s impressive – but not really – how obsessed with breasts Our World is Ended actually is. For every woman in the game – and there are many – you can expect dozens upon dozens of comments regarding her chest, and good lord does it wear thin very quickly, especially with the characters who are in their early or mid-teens. I’ve played my fair share of visual novels, and outside of that genre, I’m not ignorant of the fact that games like, say, Dead or Alive exist, where giant, bouncing breasts are almost the main selling point. Even so, I’ve never seen a published project more creepily fixated on being porn-lite than this. Oh, and there’s even a scene that’s basically tentacle porn thrown in for good measure, not to mention the 13-year-old character being depicted in sexualized positions.
For the brief intervals where the game was willing to take itself seriously, I found myself enjoying the vibrant art style and subtle, mood-setting music. Each of the characters has very exaggerated designs, Natsumi and Iruka in particular, but not so much that they look obnoxious or absurd. When several members of Judgement 7 begin to crowd the screen, however, there’s an incredible amount of color clash going on, to the point that it’s almost garish. Background designs look lovely and do a great deal to help immerse you in the world, though this is offset somewhat by the ugly-looking menu screens.
A common feature of visual novels is branching paths within the story, usually in the form of pursuing relationships with or the backstories of other main characters. Our World is Ended is no different, and there a plenty of occasions where you’ll have to decide on dialogue options or a course of action for the group. In addition to standard choices, there’s also the Selection of Soul system, where numerous dialogue choices for Reiji will rush across the screen.
The gamble is letting certain lines pass you by in the hope of something better coming along, but you also risk ending up with nothing and missing out on extra scenes. It’s clearly an attempt at replicating the impromptu nature of spoken conversations, but it comes across as a little contrived. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here, I think – standard dialogue options are more engaging and less frustrating.
I like to think that I’m the sort of person who can enjoy most games – I won’t point any fingers, but a lot of my favorite franchises tend to have less than stellar reputations – so I was surprised by just how much Our World is Ended managed to disappoint me. The concept is solid, and it helps elevate fairly generic characters into a somewhat compelling cast. The voice work is excellent, and aside from a lot of asset reuse, the game is easy on the eyes too.
It’s hard to overstate, however, just how much the obsession with lewd content spoils what would otherwise have been a decent game. With its unflinching focus on breasts and porn tropes – and, most disgustingly of all, the sexualization of children – Our World is Ended reduces itself to a creepy, fetishistic tale of grown men obsessing over the bodies of teenage girls. It’s the first game I’ve played that I’d describe as “revolting”, and it should be avoided.