GDC 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: The World Next Door

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

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The World Next Door | Logo

Publisher(s): VIZ Media
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), Mac
Release Date: March 28, 2019
Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord

Viz Media’s first entry into the world of video games, The World Next Door, is set in the world of Emrys, a world designed by the artist Lord Gris. You play as Jun, a teenager who learns magic to survive when she is trapped in the world of Emrys after she doesn’t make the portal back to our world in time. In order to survive, Jun must learn how to cast magic (via matching runes) and make dialogue choices that will influence how other characters react to her.

The World Next Door | Jun

The World Next Door stars a normal human girl named Jun (seen far left), who never takes off her mask in the game. (Image courtesy of VIZ Media).

During my short time with the demo, I started at the beginning of the game and played my way through both dialogue choices and through several battles. As I battled and made story choices, I met several unique (and gorgeously drawn!) characters that obviously play a role in Jun’s journey through Emrys as she hopefully tries to get back to the real world.

Combat looks deceptively simple in The World Next Door: match runes, cast spells, kill enemies. As I was playing the game, however, I quickly found that it is frequently anything but. When a battle begins, runes appear all over the battle arena floor, and I can only cast a spell if I make several of them line up. So while the enemy (who is NOT bound by such rules) is attacking me and moving around the arena, I am strategically moving runes around on the floor and triggering spells as I can to both attack, heal, defend, and set up future attacks. This puzzle-style combat in The World Next Door meant that I had to constantly be thinking two or three steps ahead while playing in order to just survive, and I found myself wanting to fight more and more. It was also worth noting that my health did not recover automatically between battles in The World Next Door, a welcome throwback to RPG titles of yesteryear that forced me to decide when I wanted to heal so I can try to make it through the dungeon I was in.

The World Next Door | Combat

The World Next Door | Combat

Combat in The World Next Door takes place in real time on rune grids like these. In order to cast a spell, Jun must align at least three runes first. (Images courtesy of VIZ Media).

Due in no small part to this being a game published by VIZ Media, it is clear that there are a lot of anime and video game influences within the art and story of The World Next Door. Lord Gris‘ character art is gorgeously done in the style of visual novel games and it honestly looks like these characters was meant to be cosplayed by the anime/gaming community at large. The World Next Door‘s writing also clearly has more than a little bit of the classic VIZ girl-fighting-against-the-world-with-friends energy that anime/manga fans will love. Unfortunately, with the length of my demo, I was not able to see how my dialogue choices would play out in the long run with how Jun will interact with other characters. That is to be expected in a demo, and something I fully expect would be fleshed out in the full game.

The World Next Door | Dialogue Choices

The World Next Door | Characters

The dialogue choices that Jun makes in The World Next Door will influence her relationships with the other characters that she meets along the way. (Images courtesy of VIZ Media).

The World Next Door is clearly a game meant for those who love anime, manga, and video games. It was not hard to grow at least a little attached to the various characters that I’ve encountered during my demo, and I cannot wait for the whole game to be released tomorrow on March 28, 2019.

What do you think of VIZ’s first entry into the video game market? Are you excited to pick up The World Next Door when it releases tomorrow?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at