World End Economica Is A Visual Novel That Neither Impresses Visually, Nor As A Novel

By Ethan . March 9, 2014 . 11:00am

World End Economica Episode One is a visual novel set to release soon on Steam.  It’s pretty unique within the genre—there’s a strong focus on the stock market as a platform for drama, and the sci-fi setting is well described and lingers in the imagination. There’s also a fairly standard anime-style melodrama through line in which the impulsive teenage protagonist gets to know and slowly builds a relationship with a shy but pretty girl around his own age.

 

To clarify, this is a visual novel and not a dating-sim. Oftentimes, people looking at this genre from the outside in don’t differentiate so I’ll break it down. There are zero choices available to the player through this experience, there is only one romantic relationship in play, and a hefty percentage of the experience concerns itself with plot threads entirely unrelated to the central romance. So this isn’t a relationship simulator or porn game that provides a lineup of women for the player to pursue, it’s the first third of a story that deserves to be judged the same as any other story. There is no nudity or description of nudity whatsoever.

 

I’ve started with a basic breakdown of what World End Economica is and is not… but I’ve got to drop the hammer now. I hate this game.

 

The protagonist is a problem. He is selfish, impulsive, childish (all the more so because of his obsession with not appearing so), and shockingly greedy. I recognize that the idea is that the main character starts his character arc in a bad place and learns to become a better person through the course of the story—and that’s okay. But ideally, the protagonist is someone you can root for to become that better person, and I didn’t have that experience. Instead, I rooted for every other character to wash his or her hands of him and leave him homeless by the side of the road.

 

But no. He’s the protagonist, so instead, other characters reveal their weaknesses to him or praise him as “incredibly mature” or “definitely a good person on the inside”. He isn’t! I am privy to his thoughts and I know he isn’t! Indeed, I was even privy to his thoughts when a girl he attacked was unable to move and he contemplated killing her, stripping her naked, and taking pictures. Don’t worry, it’s not like that raised red flags or anything.

 

Unfortunately, the protagonist is not the only thing I took issue with. See, the main character is a stock trader. Much of the game revolves around his exploits making and losing money on his computer, and there’s actually some surprisingly accurate description of stock market fundamentals. The only bit where the game horribly breaks from economic reality is in how people interact with the market, but that’s totally permissible. This is the future, it would be silly if we assumed that people interfaced with the stock market the same ways they do now.

 

Description is the only way the game presents the market, though. Over and over, the game cuts to a black screen to run a few paragraphs of dialogue describing short selling or market averages. This is not a good way to impart this information! It’s a good thing that understanding stock manipulation ends up being totally unnecessary to the story, because nobody without background knowledge in the subject matter is actually going to digest any of what the game is trying to say.

 

What’s especially dumb is that this is a visual novel, and visuals would have made all the dry discussion of the day’s trading infinitely easier to digest. I happen to be an economics student so I already knew everything the game was teaching and even I got lost sometimes. Text dump over a black screen one dialogue box at a time is possibly the worst way to handle a lot of what this game tries to tackle. Even a simple little graph showing the hero’s ongoing success or failure relative to the market and his goals would have done so much to make the action relatable.

 

Okay, so I couldn’t get into the relationship side of the story because the main character is a virtueless leech on society and I couldn’t get into the economic action because the way the game presents that reduces it to stock market-themed noise to click through. That accounts for the vast majority of the game content, but on the bright side, at least the setting is cool. The few occasions the game got into the development and politics of the lunar city where everything is set were easily the high points.

 

Too bad the art didn’t follow up. Most of the background stills just kind of look like normal streets on Earth. Descriptions of a city built into craters and canyons, of low gravity locomotion and of an urban jewel that’s the envy of every city on earth apparently captured my imagination more than anyone on the art team.

 

I could go on, but I feel like the point has been made. I didn’t enjoy playing World End Economica.  There are better stories about the stock market, there are better stories about slowly falling in love with a shy teenage girl, and there are way better stories about life and society beyond Earth.

 

Food for thought:

 

1. Don’t worry.  The game lacks visuals reflecting key events in the marketplace around which the narrative revolved, and it drops the ball showing the player the diversity and otherworldly construction described so vividly in the text, but there’s a special still for that one time the teenage girl walks into the living room wearing her underwear!

 

2. It took me about six and a half hours to complete the game, but I read fairly quickly.  Online resources reported playtime to average 7-8 hours.


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  • XYZ_JolteonZ980

    Seems like it still has the same problems as Spice & Wolf and similarly every other written work in that vein of focusing on stocks and economics type stuff that Log Horizon and Maoyu try to cover. Just really unengaging stories filled with uninteresting characters partaking of mundane things that should be left to txtbks and other tomes.

    • Haganeren

      If World End Economica is like Spice & Wolf, i think i might reconsider the entire article i just read ! I love this series so much i have bough the English light novel even though I am French !

      The hero is really sympathetic in there and the heroine really interesting. I also find the novel explain all the market stuff a lot better than the anime… But it may be because i can take my time to read those explanation.

      • Asura

        Here’s some advice to you.

        If an author produces a work that is great, it hardly means the other work created is going to also be good – all the other work could be horrible garbage.

        I learned this very early in life and it set me up to not build hype and then get sad for many future occasions to come.

        • s07195

          Does that mean that we shouldn’t be excited to read something new by an author we like at all? On the other hand, that sounds like a case of ‘oh ye of little faith’. XD (Half kidding)
          An author may have hits and misses, but I’d still go in with a reasonable amount of hype for each book. But hey, to each their own.

          I’m still hellbent on picking this up and hopefully the other two parts and reading for myself. :P

        • Slayven19

          Unless you are

          Frank Miller

          of course.

        • Haganeren

          Well… Before i read your answer, i didn’t even knew Spice & Wolf and World End Economica was from the same author ! I just answered the guy who said Spice & Wolf had an engaging stories filled with uninteresting characters.

          But know, i know that the two are from the same guy so i can’t help to be a lot more interested.

          Even if other works from an author could be garbage, i think it’s worth believe in it… The life is more fun that way ! Even if that’s mean having deception from time
          to time. (Like i had with Suda51)

    • Pdugna

      Log Horizon though doesn’t make the introduction of MMO abilities boring though, and throughly explains how a MMO world would probably turn out if we actually entered one. Unlike SAO where it’s just the same trope of being stuck inside a VR.

      • XYZ_JolteonZ980

        How? The discussion of MMO abilities in Log Horizon is handled in a manner that is just plain uninteresting to people who are already into the series. A simple search on a dictionary reveals any of the key terms it handles. Theres been plenty of times where the MMO stuff in Log Horizon has been rather long winded and drawn out, such magic and the worst offender was the friend list.The intricacies of the crafting system and cooking is just not as interesting. I dont think one would want a series to spend more time on mechanics versus a story and plot going through the world, LH is at its best focusing on the noobs practicing and learning actual tactics to get through against enemies.

        • Pdugna

          That is the whole point of the show to introduce people to MMO mechanics it’s not meant to entertain people who are already playing the games. and most descriptions only took an episode for a few and then they moved the story along alot of times doing both while teaching people new things.

          • XYZ_JolteonZ980

            I think the show is more targetted towards those who already familiar with MMO mechanics. Just look at the fans and the limited reach of the series compared to other MMO series that actually expanded the market like SAO. The writer could learn things from Reki Kawahara.

          • Pdugna

            SAO writing is meh the action is fun and animation was good but other than that it was ok show, it was just the best show of that season so it’s why it got alot of fans. I also see new episodes of Log Horizon trend when broadcasted on Nico Nico so it’s pretty popular.

    • katamari damacy

      You can’t really visually depict how the stock market works, neither can you visually depict the type of shrewd merchant trickery that goes on in Spice and Wolf.
      Spice and Wolf is based on a light novel, which unsurprisingly enough has more words than pictures. You’re supposed to be amazed at the logic being employed in the text and not with the picture in front of you. I haven’t played this game so I can’t comment on it, but its unfair to criticize Spice and Wolf with that mindset.

      • Anewme…Again

        Spice and Wolf first was a light novel followed by a manga and than a visual novel, everything was based on the light novel.

        • katamari damacy

          Oops I did mean to say light novel, my bad

    • KARAS

      Spice & Wolf is a Light Novel series, the anime staying true to it’s
      source is a good thing. And for that matter, World End Economica is
      written by the same author as Spice & Wolf, you should expect them to be similar.

    • baha

      What’s the problem with S&W?

    • Serge

      > Still has the same problems as Spice & Wolf
      > Just really unengaging stories filled with uninteresting characters

      I was about to take your comment serious, but then i saw your avatar.

      • Asura

        I don’t have any major problems with both S&W or Free, but none of the characters in either of those series are in a different league compared to the other series when it comes to dynamic interesting characters…

        And hell, Mushi-shi doesn’t exactly have good characters either. Mushi-shi is magical due to the tone, atmosphere, and environment, but the characters for the most part have one trait and are pretty dry (even Ginko).

        (The engaging story aspect definitely goes to S&W over Free though, even if most of the fun in S&W are the mundane every-day type interactions.)

      • Ni ~Algidus~

        damn, son! y so salty

  • OtoriGolden

    So he’s like the protagonist from The Devil on G-String?

  • notentirelythere

    Despite the negatives laid down here, I’m still interested in checking it out–I love the Spice & Wolf anime, for one, but I also feel like what drove that series home was how the luscious, autumnal art and wonderful voice cast (in the dub, even!) brought the economic stuff to a brisk pace, and how they interplayed to put out something that could be way dry and segmented to be cohesive and engaging.
    This sounds disjointed, like it’s leaning on an association with sci-fi lore text dumps to similarly impart stock market info? I’m not fond that method. But I’m also a freaking sucker for tsundere. Gosh.
    Alsouh, can people share their impressions on the protagonist? I feel like I can handle assholes with agency and motivation in the lead, but if they’re gonna Luke Fon Fabre around, I’d not have much patience for this.

    • Ethan_Twain

      Don’t worry, the protagonist most certainly has agency and motivation. He does what he wants to do, and he never hesitates over a decision for more than a couple minutes.

  • Death Saved

    What would VN’s would you recommend Ethan?

    Im also interested in hearing what VN’s yo guys and girls like!

    • Ethan_Twain

      Well VN’s fall on a spectrum. There are hybrid designs that mix in parts of other games, and on the other end there are games like these that are zero interaction, rarely localized PC releases. I usually say people should ease themselves into visual novels slowly. A good sequence might be

      1. A hybrid crowd pleaser (Ace Attorney or Professor Layton are obvious starting points)

      2. A cinematic focused or locked room type games (999 or Danganropa are solid options here)

      3. Date sims! My favorites are Katawa Shoujo and My Hatoful Boyfriend

      4. Full on Visual Novels. If you’ve made it this far and are still game to keep going then it’s time to start looking into MangaGamer’s releases, and to start looking into fan translated ROMs for games that didn’t see localization. Try to find Radical Dreamers if you can, it’s the little known visual novel SNES sequel to Chrono Trigger. It’s worth experiencing.

      • X_Bacon

        Those on 3) are still examples of (romance) visual novels, not dating sims though.

        Dating sims are games like Tokimeki Memorial and Kimikiss, where you’re actively choosing events and building up your relationship with one (or more) girls in a stats-based system more akin to an RPG.

        Think of Persona’s social links, where they also depend on your character’s points and you can boost the relationship progress by doing specific actions.

        VN’s are more static in nature, and the story flows more like a “choose your own adventure” book.

  • Ty Arnold

    So it’s a visual novel about the stock market featuring an unlikable protagonist and a bit too much fanservice?

    …Suddenly, I want to see a visual novel adaptation of Wolf of Wall Street.

    • Juan Andrés Valencia

      “Sniff cocaine from her anus”
      Or…
      “Go for more quaaludes

  • Niyari

    and this review is based off of all 3 episodes? j/w

    • Ethan_Twain

      No, only the first episode has been localized. Don’t take this information as Siliconera news verified (it isn’t) but I did a little Google search when I was putting this together. It looks like episodes one and two are out in Japan and the third is expected this year. They’re all releasing about a year apart, which explains why they’re being localized one at a time. They’re sort of positioned as stand alone products. Movies in a trilogy if you will.

      So yes, this review is based on only the first third of the total story. But yes, it’s reasonable to playtest it as a stand alone product since that’s how it’s being released. One seven hour episode a year or so.

  • Astraye

    We all know that Spice and Wolf is good just because of Horo, otherwise all the bullshit market-stuff would have been boring.
    Now the autor make a VN on this stuff again with a bad character… Of course it suck.

  • Learii

    reasled date?

    • Ethan_Twain

      Up in the air right now, but shouldn’t be more than a few weeks away.

  • Kumiko Akimoto

    The fact that fanservice is a negative for you kinda turns me off on taking your opinion series

    • M’iau M’iaut

      A game which focuses on a fantasy city’s stock market trades and business all of a sudden has a scene with a girl in her underwear? I’d call that jarring enough to make note of. It isn’t as if Spice and Wolf overwhelms one with fanservice. Nekkid Holo has basically that one scene in the wagon and as I recall, the anime doesn’t even hint Lawrence used prostitutes in the past — the wolf god travels as a nun.

      As the author noted, there is a time and a place for most things — just that in their view the time and place for a pantsu shot, was not then.

      • Shippoyasha

        To be fair, maybe they’re building character camaraderie and romance before the drama starts hitting. Spice and Wolf was like that early on as well. I don’t think we’ll really know whether these elements fit well or not until we see all the episodes.

        Also, conveying the world setting with words sounds a lot easier to pull off than describing the girl walking in with undies. That part is likely infinitely easier to describe if it’s just simply shown. Then again, maybe the game is lacking in terms of production values hence the skimping of more visual elements.

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        I highly doubt it’s bad enough to be jarring. It’s not like serious things don’t have moments of fanservice in japan. There’s no reason why it would take you off course especially if it’s meant to serve comedic purpose.

        The fact that it’s even mentioned in the review despite it not adding or taking away anything from the overall plot makes me ignore your view point.

        • Ethan_Twain

          You’ve said that you aren’t taking my opinion seriously, and that you’re ignoring M’iau M’iaut’s view point. That’s okay – nobody is here to try and convert you to a particular perspective. If you still think that this is a product for you, then go for it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I didn’t.

          Siliconera playtests aren’t meant to be IGN reviews, these aren’t written with the consideration of how a game might appeal to specific audiences or to try and distill a game down to some objective standing. What Siliconera offers is one person telling you how he or she feels about a game.

          I think that the drama is trite, the plot is poorly presented, and that getting a single use art still of the girl in her underwear is criminal considering how unimportant that scene is and how badly other parts of the story needed additional art backup.

          The problem is not that there’s a picture of a teenage girl in her underwear. I was playtesting a visual novel, of COURSE I was gonna see an anime girl in her underwear, if not more. Comes with the territory. The problem is that the teenage girl in her underwear was unimportant, and that it got special attention anyway shows that maybe telling the story wasn’t the highest priority in this development. Because the story needed every bit of attention it could get. Presented better, this game could have been something.

          But that’s not an opinion designed to be applicable to the broader consumer base, that’s just how I feel. If you feel like this might be up your alley, go for it.

          • Shippoyasha

            Well, perhaps it has more to do with the obvious low budget for the game? This game doesn’t seem to be very ambitious in terms of delivering the visual aspects epecially considering where it’s being released. The game seems like it has very low hurdles even by VN standards.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            Isn’t that because it’s an indie vn?

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            But if you expected to see it considering what it is then wouldn’t it be unimportant either way? Because it was there during a downtime scene was it not? A scene meant to temporarily take away from the tone of story.

            That still isn’t reason enough to go”A girl in her underwear I think the author just didn’t care about the story at all.” Without or without the girl if the story is bad the story is bad.

          • Ethan_Twain

            I don’t completely agree, but your point isn’t wrong. That still comes up during a downtime scene, and it was not important in the overall flow of the story.

            But I don’t agree that the story’s quality exists independently of how art assets were allocated. I think that this story had untapped potential. I got into this a little bit in the playtest, but there are actual good things here. The stock market description is way more accurate than it needed to be and if it was easy to follow this could have been downright educational for a lot of people (again, I’m an economics major so it wasn’t new information to me, but for most people I think this would be new territory). The sci-fi setting really is kinda rad. The problem is that all the good parts are in the text and not in the art. There’s no visual followup for the quality writing.

            So I’m not upset about the content, I’m upset about the content that isn’t there. So yeah, I ended with a snarky jab at the game going out of it’s way to have an underwear shot. Because it was totally unnecessary, and other parts of the game lacked visuals that were necessary. There are other stills I could have used to be snarky about, but this was definitely the least important one that made it in.

  • Slayven19

    Its in english and on steam so that means I’ll at least check out one part of this.

  • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

    Buretto Isutton Erressu’s Japanese Psycho (Hikikomori’s Cut)

  • http://amc9988.deviantart.com/ amc99

    If u ask me this kind of protagonist is MORE interesting than most vn protagonist, I had enough with the common normal/pervert/Perfect protagonist that is plaguing VN these days. More protagonist like this and the one from G senjou is always welcome

  • Xорошо 不死鳥 Zikk

    I suppose Economics isn’t for everyone. :V

  • Göran Isacson

    ha ha, aw man and here I was kind of interested in this title. Might want to wait until more chapters are out and we can see if the character development goes to a good place. Lawrence and Holo’s banter was like one of the things I liked the most about that show, and since the main chars here seems to be…, well, not like Lawrence or Holo but rather like a bunch of other characters I’ve subjected myself to throughout the years and found lacking, I dunno how interested I am now.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/findlay27 Hawk Ward

    I think that this review is highly personalised. That’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s nice to see people not being all wishy washy bacause Steam is finally seeing some visual novels, so I merit your honesty, Ethan.

    Regardless, I must admit that because Isuna Hasekura wrote this, and being as I’m head over heels for the Spice & Wolf universe, I still wish to check it out for the sake of satisfying my tentative curiosity, even if it disappoints me.

    However, going back to the personalised review, I’m hoping for the game to provide a “unique” perspective on the stock market. In S&W, monetary value meant everything, and if something had a good story behind it, as illustrated in Vol 1 of the novel with the ‘apple scented’ furs, suddenly the cogs of that particular trade revolve in unexpected ways. That is the sort of experience I ‘hope’ to get (oh and the romance I guess), though time will soon tell.

  • Ragnawind

    It’s been awhile but I finally had the time to read this and it took about 15 hours at an average speed. I also actually had a much different opinion to the game and thought it was pretty good and still in the same vein as Spice and Wolf, but in a more futuristic setting and still involving economics. It started out a bit slow, but started building up after he moved into the church and in the end had a rather emotional ending to it, for the first part of a trilogy, at least. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, personally, after Hagana disappeared.

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