Worldend Syndrome is the sort of visual novel where every character has depth to them. There are layers to everyone, with their backgrounds and personalities eventually alluding to past traumas and reasons why they might end up seeking out the dead. Which is only fitting, given Yomibito return to the town of Mihate every 100 years. But, when it comes down to it, two characters in particular are especially good at showing exactly the sort of details available here.
One is rather obvious. It’s Rei Nikaido, aka the very obvious Hanako Yamada. She’s the character we see the least in Worldend Syndrome’s introduction, but has the most obvious duality and depth. When she is first introduced, it is as an idol who is going to portray the lead heroine in the adaptation of Kaori Yamashiro’s novel, Worldend Syndrome. We learn that she actively campaigned for the part, is supposedly a big fan of your homeroom teacher’s work, and is renowned for her talent. After the press conference, we are introduced to Hanako, who has suddenly been invited by Ms. Yamashiro to join the club investigating Mihate’s legends. She stumbles over her identity, almost giving her real name. She still has her very obvious hairstyle. The only attempt to conceal her identity is a pair of goofy glasses, which she actually does need to see. From there, we see a number of scenes where she’s calm, collected, and professional as “Rei” and flustered and more genuine as “Hanako.”
But, once you get closer to her, we begin to see even more sides to Rei. We learn which identity is her true self. While she seems to be incredibly enthusiastic about mundane activities people take for granted, exuding a sort of innocence, that doesn’t mean she isn’t aware of heartbreak and the harshness in the world. When the school club goes to Saya’s family’s mansion for a “camp” activity, we get hints at what lies beneath the surface. Rei describes life with her father, briefly. She brings up that she began thinking about dying, and that spurred her into making career decisions. Rei has much to face in Mihate, and we get to be there with her. We see all sides of her and how her journey influences her life.
While Rei is a more obvious case of a character with all sorts of sides to her, another is Miu. In her case, things are more subtle. People could go through the entire introduction of Worldend Syndrome and other characters’ routes with her only saying a few sentences to you. She can come across as a dutiful, steadfast character who is incredibly quiet. You might look at her and think that she could be the Rei Ayanami of Worldend Syndrome. But, there is a side to her. There is constant teasing about what lies beneath.
After all, our first meeting with Miu in Worldend Syndrome is quite a shocking one. She watches our avatar as he leaves the train station. Her eyes appear to be glowing. She seems to disappear when you look away. Someone going through the beginning might be doubt who and what she is. A first playthrough through Worldend Syndrome’s introduction even ends with quite a cliffhanger. But, once you unlock her storyline and get to her tale, it opens up almost everything. The secrets that didn’t add up, some of the plotholes you wondered about, why Miu is the way she is. It steals the show and constantly provides the insights you would crave.
Let’s be clear: every character in Worldend Syndrome is well-crafted. The heroines, NPCs, and even your avatar have these elements that constantly make you think about who and what they are, wondering what sorts of depths they might hide. Rei and Miu just happen to be two that are very obvious about their unexpected natures and many layers. Anyone who gives it a chance is sure to see what makes these people so special.
Worldend Syndrome is available for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in Japan and North America. It will come to Europe on June 14, 2019.