The phrase “to the moon” has become household phrase in recent months, with talk of Dogecoin and “meme stocks” saturating public discourse. So it only makes sense that a story about stocks literally on the moon would make its way into our hands here at Niche Gamer.
World End Economica Complete is the ultimate collection for the series, combining all three games into an easily accessible collection. The entire story laid bare for those new to the franchise to pick up in anticipation of the upcoming anime series.
WORLD END ECONOMiCA ~complete~
Developer: Spicy Tails
Publisher: Sekai Project
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 22, 2021
Price: $29.99 USD
Editor’s Note: The WORLD END ECONOMiCA ~complete~bundle is available on Steam. Each game is three separate episodes.
I honestly had my doubts about sitting through a single visual novel (let alone three) on the Switch. But I should have learned after Root Film that the Nintendo Switch is an incredible system for the genre. The control scheme for visual novels (which admittedly isn’t all that complex) readily translates over to the handheld system; and it makes sense that PC versions are starting to become unwieldy by comparison.
World End Economica follows the tale of Yoshiharu Kawaura (shortened to Hal as a pseudonym). The young man has run away from home in pursuit of a painfully vague ideal of “standing where no one else has stood,” and for that he needs money.
Hal is able to keep himself afloat with his portable computer alone, and he’s managed to amassed a small fortune. However due to his status as a runaway, it’s not something he’s able to leverage; and he’s forced to spend his night in net cafes.
This way of living is interrupted one day when he’s pursued by the police. The police are searching for another runaway who’s gone so far as to steal. While the moon is a hyper-capitalist state, society as a whole on the planet is obsessed with public order.
The reason for this is the scarcity of goods on the moon. People are well off enough, but the fact is that everything on the moon needs imported; most importantly water. This bottleneck creates a dichotomy where despite being hyper-capitalist, there’s an awareness for sustainability and peace. If something goes wrong on the moon, it could cascade throughout the entire city.
Frankly, the first game in the series is a slog. Hal is an unsympathetic protagonist, and his vague goal only makes him sound ostentatious.
Ironically, this issue is ultimately the story’s redeeming quality. Despite being a brat and having a vague goal, it’s easy to root for him as an unappreciated underdog in Lunar society. It’s similar to how isekai protagonists can be overpowered, but it’s fun to watch their success all the same.
Hal is taken in by Lisa, a young woman whose parents were theological scholars, and were able to immigrate to the moon under a special dispensation that allowed for niche scholars and specialists to preserve their knowledge. Lisa herself is a devout Christian, and lives in a church where she looks after runaways instead of reporting them to the authorities.
After inducting Hal into her household he meets Hagana, a young girl around his own age who’s just as unlikable as Hal. But the relationship between Hal and Hagana becomes the ultimate focus of the trilogy.
One thing to bare in mind about this game is that it has no gameplay. This isn’t like other recent visual novel reviews where there’s been combat or romantic routes to pursue; this visual novel is strictly a linear narrative.
World End Economica was written by Hasekura Isuna, who’s mostly known for creating the Spice & Wolf series. Hasekura proves himself equally as adept at worldbuilding in both series, and the Lunar city feels realistic more than fantastic; its goings-ons and troubles are largely grounded in reality and attempt to reflect the scarcity created by living on the moon.
The first game in the series is burdened by a necessary amount of worldbuilding and character development. It’s necessary in order to create the sort of interest and investment in the characters that can persist through two more games.
Unfortunately, this makes the first game the worst of the three, and it’d be a small surprise to hear of readers giving up on the entire trilogy before even finishing the first half of the first game. However the other two games pick up with the groundwork of the first game and run with it.
You know the characters, you’re invested in Hal’s triumphs and foibles, and hopefully you want to see how it ends. When it comes to setting the scene, World End Economica excels, but it’s a coin toss whether it will hold your interest long enough to do so.
Players who managed to finish the first game and actually find themselves caring about Hal will be rewarded with a two-part drama and revenge story. The last two games channel all the tedium of the first game into layers of intrigue and interpersonal drama that makes it worth it to stick through to the end.
Worth mentioning is that the entire series is one story. Despite being three different games, playing only the first one is unfulfilling and ends on a cliff hanger. With years-long time gaps between all three games, players will watch Hal try and recover from his failures in the first game.
This makes the first game simply a prelude to Hal’s tale of self-fulfillment and revenge; and we follow him as he becomes a big player in the hyper-capitalist society of the moon. What I’m still left shrugging at is how this is “standing where no one else stood.” But it sounds self-important, and that’s probably what’s most important to Hal.
The artwork by Uwatsuki Isshiki gives me mixed feelings. It’s a little rough around the edges when it comes to character portraits, but more details is put into the backgrounds and some of the CGs which compensates.
Some of the linework feels inconsistent, especially when it comes to the character Lisa. But this inconsistency could be charming for some readers in the same way the original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is preferred by some people. Lisa aside, the character designs are cute, and there’s a blonde girl with freckles which honestly is worth mentioning for that fact alone.
World End Economica ultimately stands out as a modern classic of the visual novel genre. But like classics, they’re not for everyone. Players might be put off by the first game, but anyone who has even an inkling of interest by the time the prologue is done would be well served to try and see it through.
WORLD END ECONOMiCA ~complete~ was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy purchased by Sekai Project. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.