WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.03 Review

As the old adage goes, an economy devoid of taxes is an economy destined to fail.

World End Economica Episode 1 was one of the worst visual novels I’ve covered on this site, due to its immensely detestable protagonist and a story that was, well, pretty boring.  Episode 2 saw an upturn in quality, with a vastly more appealing lead character and a story that, while a bit more simple (it is about an informal audit), did ultimately leave me interested in seeing how this saga could possibly conclude with regards to quality, contemplating if it would spike with Episode 3, as many people claimed it did.  Though, after going through it, I can’t really say that I get where they’re coming from.

WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.03 Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Linux, 3DS
Developer: Spicy Tails
Publisher: Sekai Project

Having finally gone through the entirety of World End Economica, I now realize that the games are not really meant to be viewed as individual entries as much as they are all chapters in a three-part coming of age story about a brat of a child who through many harsh lessons and by learning a great deal of humility, blossoms into a respectable, intelligent, and well-tempered man who holds an immense amount of responsibility with a degree of grace.  I bring this up because from the get-go it becomes apart that this is meant to be a concluding chapter for Hal, who after toppling the equivalent of space Enron in Episode 2, has become the so called “Hero of the Lunar Surface”.  A mostly hollow title that nevertheless granted him a large degree of respect, a part-time position as an adviser to the president of the moon, and his own successful investment fund.  

Being up on top of the world, or the moon as it were, things seem to be going quite swimmingly for Hal before a change in the greater market begins to rear its head in the form of the “Holy Grail of Investments,” a risk-free security that generates value exceeding the rate of inflation.  Being as stubborn as a donkey and something of a miser, the ensuing story follows Hal as he investigates the true ramifications of this security, seeking advice and confining in the expanded supporting cast before, once again, stumbling upon an unfortunate truth that leads to both great profits and potential economic collapse.

That’s the gist of it anyways, and for what it is, the story is perfectly functional and has a number of things I really enjoyed.  The latter half of the story is afforded the gravitas befitting the conclusion of a trilogy, having successfully put me on the edge of my seat as I powered through the final few hours in order to see just how this economy driven world ending event could be averted.  The expanded cast of the series are, for the most part, afforded the attention needed to tie off their storylines in a satisfactory manner. While the level of economic detail discussed throughout the story, especially with regards to the government of the moon, is quite admirable, and helped keep me invested.  Though I’m currently going for my Master’s in Accounting, so I’m kind of programmed to hone in to anything that seems business or finance related.

But there are naturally some drawbacks as well.  For instance, the game can throw a lot of economic jargon at the player and offers them an inconsistent amount of explanation for each new concept introduced.  At the best of times, the story pauses for a concept to be explained in detail, sometimes with an accompanying diagram. But at other times, I was more than a little lost about what the characters were talking about.  There is an effort to help remedy this by providing some definitions throughout the game, but they can only be accessed through the menu on the screen the term is first used. Meaning there isn’t some sort of Steins;Gate style economic dictionary to sort through, which is a shame given how much detail was clearly put into gathering and translating all of this information.  

This density of information can also lead to the game feeling more lengthy than necessary at points, with a lot of the first half of the story functioning as a slow and steady burn that is immediately followed by a comparatively rapid paced climax that, among other things, reintroduces Hagana into the story, but in a way that… makes her seem like an idiot.  I mentioned before how I actually enjoyed her portrayal in Episode 1, where she was positioned as an unsure and often socially inept young woman with immense mathematical talents.  Well, Episode 3 more or less writes her around the story that the creative team wanted to tell, resulting in a lot of the justifications for her actions coming off as flimsy, or at the very least push certain aspects of her character to an extreme.  It’s actually kind of a shame, as I would have loved to see her gain the same level of maturity that was afforded to Hal, but instead she seems to have barely grown up at all, and mostly is placed in this story to conclude Hal’s character arc…

Taking all of this together and viewing the story as a whole in order to assess its quality, I really do not see much of a distinction between Episode 3 and 2, as both seem to have the same general strengths and weaknesses, and come across as comparable with regards to quality.  It’s perfectly fine, inoffensive, but beyond its nifty gimmick of being an economics X sci-fi story, and viewing the story as a sequential three-part whole, I cannot help but feel a bit surprised by how apathetic I am towards it.  

Moving on, World End Economica has had a consistently quality presentation, and that is retained in part 3.  Its detailed backdrops depict the lunar surface with a degree of semi-realistic mundanity, as it is just a city after all, along with fairly expressive character sprites that boast memorable designs, and a good amount of CGs with a number of slight variations.  There are some minor hang-ups I have, such as the number of lengthy scenes that linger on a single shot of a background, and how some of the more boisterous tracks of the soundtrack and prove to be distracting when the story is interrupted by an economic crash course.  Though I am willing to ignore these quibbles, simply because after looking like a puntz for nearly a decade, Hal has finally gotten himself a suit and learned how to wear it like an adult.

With how brazenly I choose which games I review and invest my limited time into, there are inevitably going to be some duds, some titles that do not bare positive returns, and result in a loss in the form of a game that I simply do not enjoy going through.  World End Economica is one of the more substantial investments I made, operating under the consensus that things would gradually improve, and while the losses were not as big as I initially expected due to an upturn seen in Episode 2, which was maintained in Episode 3, it still strikes me as an disadvantageous investment, especially in a market as turbulent as this.  While certainly not a BBB rank junk, I cannot comfortably call the investment of one’s limited capital into World End Economica to be a wise decision.  

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