As my hillbilly cowboy roundhouse kicked yet another boar rider off the edge of a cliff to his untimely death, I couldn’t help but think “this is weird.” More importantly, I also couldn’t stop thinking “this is awesome.”
About 4 years in the making, with a fourth and final chapter in the works, World’s End is an excellent – and I do mean really excellent here – strategy/tactics RPG that mostly flew under the radar: a crime that must be now corrected before karmic disaster befalls us all.
World’s End has been floating around on popular browser game portals like Kongregate and Newgrounds for yonks now, but the recent release of Chapter 3 simultaneously reminded me that the game exists and called for a long overdue post about the series.
On the surface, it’s a pretty standard tactics battler like Final Fantasy Tactics and its ilk, to be sure, and yet, World’s End is somehow so much more. There’s a typically diverse selection of motely party members, yes, but most of them are highly questionable individuals. The plot is relatively small in scope rather than one of epic conquest, and most of your misadventures are focused on the acqusition of ill-gained wealth, not of noble deeds. That’s not to say you bad guys… just less evil than the other bad guys (usually). Somehow, mostly by accident, things do eventually spiral deeper and deeper into foreign political strife. But even then, the methods with which to extort from friend and foe alike never strays far from your drug-addled leader’s mind. Oh, and it also boasts some of the best dialogue seen in an RPG in the last decade:
Party-wise, the diverse lot making the rounds may, mechanically-speaking, tend to fit snugly into familar tropes, but each brings a few quirks to the archtype and enough personality that each feels suitably unique. Sure, you’ve got a healer with the usual superior range and power magic bestows, however, she is not the mysterious shy girl with a magical past but a fat shaply sex-addicted nun, who can take a ton of punishment before going down. Your other, a feeble old man and former narcotics supplier, who has to shoot needles into the backs of friend and foe alike from dangerously close range. Your leader? Yes he wields swords, but he’s also an opium-addled scheming geezer who eloquently shames his friends and angers his enemies with a litany of insults. World’s End is just that sort of game.
Luckily, the combat is also challenging. Not Final Fantasy Tactics 1.3 challenging, sure, but enough so that at least some care needs to be taken to avoid winding up dead – especially if you want to avoid anyone dying to shoot for the enviable flawless victory which grants a delicous 10 bonus skill points. Also, there is no ressurection in battles. The game uses an “Action Points” system, which requires a bit of consideration of when to move and when to act, and like most of the more thoughtful tactics games, control is key to victory. Skills that immobilise, stun or otherwise hinder foes are often more useful than outright damage.
There’s a decently broad range of skills with which to do so (which grows in each installment), ranging from a few passive boosts, to new attacks and abilites, to upgrading them into new deadlier, wider-reaching or debilitating ones. You can also interact with the environment, tipping bookshelfs, and throwing exploding lanterns and pushing enemies off cliffs, are some such options. For the more macarbe out there, you can pick up and throw the corposes of your fallen enemies at people, or stack them up into sandbag like barriers to block foes, or perhaps even create convient stairways up to ledges… because, well, World’s End is just that sort of game.
The game does decently well to balance and tweak character’s so that investing in skills with your precious, and very limited, skill points carries decent weight. A lot of characters have different attack ranges, and there’s a range of skills that can be used to boost or reduce movement, action points, special points (the games form of MP), and the rate at which MP regenerates rather than just fireballs and bigger fireballs. Despite the importance of crowd control though, direct stunning skills are relatively limited, making them all the more valuable. In the end, mixing and matching skills becomes important, and feels suitably involving, each upgrade and investment, rewarding.
On top of everything, the game is alledgedly beatable without using any skill points or buying anything at shops, though I daren’t imagine how painfully difficult that would be.
For a freeware game, World’s End is an astounding effort with a ton of content. It far outpaces a lot of commercial releases out there, espeically if you are a fan of tactics RPGs, or just RPGs in general, there’s little reason not to play this game.
Posted on December 25, 2017, in RPG, Strategy and tagged Browser Game, Dark Fantasy, fantasy, Freeware, Humour, Tactical RPG, Turn-based combat, World's End (series), World's End Chapter 1 (game), World's End Chapter 2 (game), World's End Chapter 3 (game). Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.