Today, renowned anime and manga company VIZ Media released a beautifully illustrated new video game that combines fast match-3 action with a visual novel: The World Next Door.
In collaboration with Rose City Games, VIZ Media’s The World Next Door follows Jun, a masked teenager searching for adventure in a parallel world. Everything’s going fine and dandy as Jun makes friends with magical beings, learns how to cast spells, and parties in the new world… until she gets trapped there. Playing as Jun, you and your new friends must find a way to open a portal back to Earth before it’s too late!
First conceptualized in 2017 as part of the PIG Squad (Portland Indie Game Squad) game design jam, artist Lord Gris and Rose City Games’ Corey Warning and Will Lewis then brought the game to VIZ Media. Together, they created the final product: a delightful puzzle adventure game with tons of quirky characters to know and love.
As Jun, you’ll encounter characters inspired by Lord Gris’s life. “My character designs were pulled from all sorts of sources.” Gris shared with us. “For example, Horace was inspired by a ram skull I have in my house, who shares the same name. (I also dress it up for different holidays.) Some people might notice my homage to Spinelli from Recess in Lux. Liza was a recreation of an old original character I would draw in high school, and many characters were inspired by and named after friends of mine who have had a fun time seeing their name in game form.”
As you befriend this colorful cast of characters, they can help you in various ways throughout your adventure. Jun can select one friend to come along in each of the shrines and each character has unique special abilities and provide different dialog options, so there’s plenty of incentive to play the game multiple times if you are interested in getting the full story. Corey Warning, Co-Founder & Director of Rose City Games, points out “We were really careful with how we balanced giving the player choices that affect the game, and making sure that we were able to tell the story that we wanted to tell. We wanted to reward players who make interesting dialogue choices, and if you spend time with all the characters in the game, you can learn a lot more about the lore and the rules of this universe.”
While the story plays out like a visual novel, the main action is match 3 style. The shrines you need to explore are teeming with monsters and the only way to defeat them is through casting powerful magic. The floors of the shrines are covered in glowing runes and by running over sets of 3 or more runes, you can cast attack or healing spells. The key word here is “run”. Yes, you have to be quick to cast your spells. The whole time you are frantically matching symbols, the enemies will be trying to take you out. This added speed element makes the match 3 style-game much more exciting and challenging.
The game is a little like what a modern Dungeons and Dragons anime might feel like and that makes sense considering the designers were listening to The Adventure Zone, and playing games like Oxenfree and Night in the Woods while working on The World Next Door. Corey said, “We also love inserting references from some of our favorite titles, so fans of those might catch some Easter eggs while playing The World Next Door.”
The World Next Door is an exciting romp through a fantastical yet familiar-feeling world with endearing characters and a fun story. You can get your hands on it March 28th when it releases on Steam and Nintendo Switch. Learn more about the game at TheWorldNextDoor!
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Image Credits: Rose City Games
Hailing from New York, Jessica Fisher is a writer, artist, and all around geek. In addition to Geek & Sundry, she writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter as @miniktty.