Let's face it: World End Syndrome, one of PQube's many VN offerings, is seriously flawed. The unsuspecting player sees it right of the bat, when they're forced to clear the prologue twice in a row to be granted access to the main story. The flawed nature of the game is then cemented when the ever-so-slightly-suspicious player realizes that most of the dialogue choices don't matter whatsoever. Finally, it's confirmed when the now-blasé player stumbles upon wooden and unnatural scenes referring to events they didn't witness or ignoring fomer romantic developments entirely, just because the game operates on a 'one-time-and-place = one-fixed-scene' system.
And yet, World End Syndrome is also incredibly lovely. The unsuspecting player's retinas are in for a treat right away, upon discovering the gorgeous vistas and adorable character designs. The loveliness of the game is then further enhanced by the unique and mesmerizing atmosphere of the game world, in which the main locale is treated as a full-blown character. Finally, the now enraptured player is bound to be swept off their feet by the simple yet deeply engaging and moving story, and the blessed realization that the characters are so much more than the anime tropes they seem to be at first glance.
I love WES to pieces; and yet, that love story might not have existed at all. I'll admit it: upon starting the main story and discovering that I had to select places to visit without the slighest shred of indication regarding who or what I may find there, my heart faltered and I was a hair's breadth away from stuffing the cartridge back into my dedicated Switch Unikeep binder (story for another post, that.) Yet I was so enraptured by the art and the game's vibe that I decided to forge ahead and perform a crash test run of sorts, picking up places at random and seeing where this led me. Straight to the Worst Ending, that's where it led me! However, upon starting a new run and discovering that already visited places were marked as such, along with indications regarding who lounged there, I realized that it was perfectly in my power to uncover every Route without resorting to FAQs. The way was time-consuming yet foolproof: since there were seven different places to explore, I just had to play seven runs in a row, visiting every single spot at every possible time. Then, I'd simply have to track each girl
like a crazy stalker closely to end up on her route.
That's exactly what I did, dear fellow gamers; and not only did it work just fine, but it also greatly enhanced my experience of WES. Apart from the fact that uncovering all of a game's secrets by yourself is mightily satisfying, watching the same vistas over and over engraved Mihate Town in my mind, making it feel breathing and alive. I also got to understand and feel the depth of the Protagonist's depression through the many scenes that simply showed him wandering around aimlessly; as a matter of fact, some of my runs showed him slowly sinking into apathy as such scenes and days went by, in a striking and vivid way that stayed with me long after I finished those runs.
I fancy thinking that I played the game the canon way by exploring all possibilities. The story ultimately revolves around dealing with pain and sorrow and moving on towards recovery; getting to witness the outcomes of all types of behaviours, from the most involved to the most lethargic, really drives the point home. I'm glad I forged on and poured so many hours into WES, because it ultimately turned to be one of my best and most engrossing VNs experiences ever. And since I'm mentioning VNs, there should be more of these in the posts to come; but not before I expand a bit more on WES. Until then, dear fellow gamers, keep playing and take care!