There Is A World Next Door?
Every 20 years the gateways between our world and the magical world of Emrys will be open for one day. Every time this happens, there is a lottery drawn from both sides to see who will visit. This year it was Jun’s turn to visit Emry. Jun and her magical friends go to visit a shrine to see if Jun can cast magic (she is a natural). Unfortunately, by the time they returned to the gate, it was closed.
Humans can only survive a limited amount of time before they die while on Emry which is why the gates only open for one day. They believe reactivating the Shrines will open the portal. Thus, the scene is set for the=is narrative based puzzle game and its race against time to get Jun back home.
Jun And Her Friends
Jun is a human trapped within Emry. With help from her friends, they fight and struggle to get Jun home. Since humans and Emeryerans have been passing back and forth with each other for decades, each race has brought technology and magic to the other, allowing communication with each other.
The day starts with Jun being able to text three friends each day to find out more about their personalities. After which, Jun meets up with her friends and the plans for the night will be formed. While talking Jun will be able to reply with a simple mood type reply, promoting different answers depending on the response, right away setting up for replayability.
Once Jun has finished talking and advancing the story she is then able to walk around the town, before heading to the tram for the next part of the game, and to talk to other strange and beautiful creatures. These could be simple interactions giving information about Emrys or full blown side missions. The missions feel natural within the context of the world. For instance, a Minotaur has lost his favourite hat of his sports team and asked you to find it for him. Being a miniature, he is all muscles and loves sports.
Each character is deceptively deep and fleshed out well, fan example of this is Horace – the epitome of cool, and always wants to fight, but it’s all a facade for a much deeper caring guy than he likes to let on.
Once Jun is finished talking and exploring it is off to head to the tram, this takes Jun and her friends off to the shrine. This is where the game shines. Once at the Shrine Jun will need to decide which of her friends will help her in the fights. Each friend has different abilities in battle. One of the friends can attack with a massive fireball while the other can heal. Only one friend can help at the start of the game, but later on, in the game, a total of three can help. Once in the shrine you fight, explore, solve puzzles and defeat the boss.
Different Take On A Classic Mechanic
For some reason, The World Next Door takes the old mechanic of match three puzzler and makes it fun. On a battle screen there will be numerous tiles on the floor, each with there own attributes. Matching three or more of the same tile will allow the attack to be activated. The more tiles matched the stronger the attack. Mix that with tight, cramped spaces to fight in, and it makes for a fun battle. Trying to pick up a tile and dodge an attack is frantic and some times frustrating. If you die do not be alarmed as there are save points within the Shrine in the form of healing wells, and the game will restart Jun at the last one used.
If you need the help of a friend within battle, then a shape will need to be formed from white tiles on the floor. This is a fun idea, making fights more tactical and interesting. Along with the different attacks that enemies do its a fun system.
I did, however, find that the input from the pickup tile button was a little unresponsive at times as I would try to pick up a tile and it wouldn’t happen. This made some fights harder than they needed to be.
Talking of hard, if the game’s fights are too hard to complete or if you just wanted to concentrate on the story, there is an assist mode meaning Jun will not be hurt within battles.
The art style of The World Next Door is influenced heavily by anime. This shows up in the narrative sections, with the character designs, they are all the type of females that would be home in any anime. While playing their characters are chibi styled, and that looks super cute.