Take out ghoulies and demons in The World Next Door, a game that mixes multiple genres.
When you first start up The World Next Door, you may think that it’s a visual novel. It certainly plays like one, with a large bit of dialogue right off the bat. But as you continue, it will start to feel like an adventure game, with you moving your character around to explore the area. Eventually, it turns out to be a match three puzzle game with a twist. So, what is it really? Well, if I had define it, I’d say it’s a visual novel RPG puzzler.
Let me try to explain how one game can be all of those things.
Firstly, you play as Jun, a human who gains the opportunity to travel to the world of Emrys. Emrys is full of otherworldly creatures, some friendly and some not. Many of these creatures have the ability to perform magic and aren’t shy about showing off their stuff. One day the portal from Emrys closes before Jun can make her way back home. Unfortunately, humans can only survive a few days in this world so Jun must team up with her friends in order to find another way to get home before it’s too late.
A lot of the game will be spent clicking through dialogue. It is here that you will make choices which will affect different situations in the game. You’ll decide who comes with you and who you want to spend your precious free time with during the day. During your free time you’ll also be able to pick up side quests to help your friends out. Because of course there’s nothing more pressing you should be worrying about, like, oh I don’t know, your impending death. Your dialogue choices won’t really affect the ending of The World Next Door, but you essentially get to decide the kind of person you want Jun to be.
The other large portion of The World Next Door will be spent inside dungeons. There are four dungeons to explore in the game and they will all have you completing fast-paced match-three puzzles. When you enter a room in a dungeon that contains a match game, the floor will light up with different coloured runes. You’re able to move Jun around the board and, by standing on top of certain squares, you can either match multiple colours together in order to attack your enemies or tether yourself to a rune to move somewhere else in order to make a match. The gameplay is easy enough to pick up and, once you get the hang of it, there aren’t many times that enemies will be able to beat you. I do highly recommend playing the game with a controller because it will make your life so much easier.
Although The World Next Door’s puzzles are fun, the real joy of the game is its cast of characters and its dialogue. The puzzles only last for minutes at a time, but the engaging story will be the element that keeps you pressing through. Characters are brought to life in great detail, and the beautiful visuals are a pleasure from start to finish.
Playable in one or two long sittings, The World Next Door is an interesting mix of genres. It won’t set your world on fire, but what is there is pretty fun. Without much reason to replay, you probably won’t jump right back into Emrys when you complete the game, but it’s well worth your time at least once.