Neverland with no Peter Pan in sight
A lot of elements from other games are blended together in WorldNeverland. There’s a mix here of the mechanics of Stardew Valley’s life simulation, added to the venturing out of your town in search of monsters and materials that you might see in the likes of Monster Hunter and Xenoblade.
You begin the game by designing your own character, all of whom have a visual style similar to that which we saw in MySims, perhaps even crossing that with the Mii caricatures. Then, you’re into the Elnea kingdom, where you’re initially sent around from location to location in search of items, with the general purpose of raising enough funds to become a permanent resident of the area. From the start, you can fast track between the areas; selecting where you want to go before watching your character take control and jaunt through the town on the way to the target.
If you enjoy the romance and relationship-building aspects of The Sims, you’ll be pleased to know that that is at work here. There are a huge number of characters walking through the overworld at any one given time, and with all their names appearing in a bubble above their heads, it’s not the cleanest of executions as far as the visuals go. But, you’ll need to have the persistence needed to get around that if you’re going to make some friends with the game’s characters because there’s a lot of quite dull dialogue you’ll need to hammer your way through in order to build relationships. Due to the sheer number of people who appear throughout the town, the game struggles to form any really notable characteristics for any of them, and that’ll all have to be done in the player’s mind rather than on the screen.
As some sort of lore, characters are presented as adults with ages in single digits – for example, you could play as a six-year-old youth with full facial hair. So-and-so many years in our world are fewer years in theirs. To be honest, it’s just a bit weird, and feels rather uncomfortable. There just really doesn’t seem a good reason for its inclusion. It gets weirder when you have relationships and later children – having a child with somebody under ten just feels all sorts of wrong.
You can head off for some dungeon crawling whenever you like, but I felt the battling system isn’t intuitive enough. You can cycle through attacks of a different level of strength and then press the A button to select what you want to do, but then rather than watch your character immediately strike, it will feel like your input hasn’t registered if you aren’t paying full attention. You’re actually given a certain number of ‘attack points’ which are available to use in a turn, and only after you’ve clicked through all of these will your character physically move.
There are parts of the game which are impressively immersive given its mobile origins. I just had the feeling all the way through that I wanted to remain in the surroundings of the town, as no matter what was on offer if I was to grind my way through the dungeon, the rather dull feeling of the caves paled in comparison to the vibrancy of the town. You’re likely better off trying it free to play first before forking up here.
WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom
With a free to start version of the same game available on mobile, it’s a bit of a steep entry point to buy on the Switch without trying it on your phone or tablet first. While WorldNeverland is not a genre-defining world, there is at least a bit of personality within its city limits.