2021 has been a major year for RPG games (Hallelujah!). In late February, Persona 5 Strikers, a sequel to the critically acclaimed Persona 5, finally saw a worldwide release a little over one year after its initial launch in Japan only.
In addition, NEO: The World Ends with You was officially announced as the sequel to the commercially successful Nintendo DS action-RPG game The World Ends with You nearly thirteen years after its original release. With news of these two hard-hitting series circulating throughout late 2020 and early 2021, many began to notice visual similarities between the two. With each title boasting critical acclaim and their own huge, dedicated fan bases, it simply begged the question: is The World Ends with You and Persona 5 really that alike?
For starters, let’s look at each game’s setting: The World Ends with You and Persona 5 both take place in the urban backdrop of Tokyo, Japan. Furthermore, both games implement contemporary elements and aesthetics into their themes and presentation, from character designs right down to soundtracks; in other words, they’re both stylish anime games with some awesome music. In light of these comparable aspects, it’s understandable that they seem very similar.
However, while they may appear tantamount, the two games actually differ quite substantially from one another. After examining their numerous differences, it’ll become clear that The World Ends with You and Persona 5 effectively distinguish themselves from one another, making their own marks as prominent RPG titles.
Following the reveal of NEO: The World Ends with You back in November 2020, fans instantly drew comparisons to Persona 5. The NEO: The World Ends with You trailer featured clips of the main character, Rindo, running through the game’s main setting (Also the same as its predecessor), Shibuya. A blatant far cry in graphical depiction from the original 2D The World Ends with You, the base presentation appeared to resemble that of Persona 5.
Here’s a pic from Persona 5:
And here’s NEO: The World Ends with You:
Considering Shibuya is, in fact, a real place, of course, the setting would look similar in both games (Save for talking cats and floating tattoo monsters). The other aspect to draw comparisons between both games is their shared overall style and presentation. They both display anime graphic visuals and implement a modern, trendy aesthetic, such as comic-like menu artwork and speech bubbles for dialogue, features which are also very prevalent throughout the different installments in each series. However, a major point of contrast between the two games is that while Persona 5 takes place throughout multiple locations in Tokyo, The World Ends with You is only set in Shibuya.
The divergence doesn’t stop there. There’s also a significant age gap between the two titles, with the original The World Ends with You releasing over a decade ago on the Nintendo DS back in 2007, while Persona 5 released on the PlayStation 3 in 2016. Furthermore, these two games possess very different narratives and gameplay. The World Ends with You centers around a mysterious event known as the Reapers’ Game in which select individuals who have died may compete for a chance at life again, or even become greater spiritual entities of higher existence, in exchange for an entry fee of their most cherished possession. The game spans a three-week period and, aside from some light side content, plays quite linearly.
Persona 5, on the other hand, focuses on a band of young vigilantes who explore the Metaverse, an enigmatic world composed of the collective unconscious and featuring special areas known as palaces, which parallel real-life locations in the game. The vigilante group, known as the Phantom Thieves, venture into the Metaverse to change the hearts of malicious individuals in order to fight corruption in the real world. Persona 5 is much larger and longer than The World Ends with You, with the events of the game transpiring over the course of a year. Unlike the more straightforward The World Ends with You, Persona 5 has multiple routes and endings the player can reach depending on the actions and decisions made throughout their playthrough.
The systems of combat in The World Ends with You and Persona 5 also couldn’t be more different. The World Ends with You features an incredibly active combat system known as the “Stride Cross Battle System,” which requires different movement techniques through heavy use of the stylus pen or joystick. Players must use pins to exercise powers known as “Psychs,” which are used to defeat the main in-game enemies called Noise. Psychs span a plethora of abilities, including melee attacks and special ranged attacks. The type of Psychs players can use depends on the pins they equip.
Persona 5’s combat system, on the other hand, follows the more classic RPG style of turn-based battles. Through the use of special manifestations of self known as “Personas,” players can execute special abilities that bear affinities like “ice” or “lightning.” Persona 5 also employs the traditional series mechanic in which the main player character may obtain, use, and synthesize various different Personae. While both The World Ends with You and Persona 5 do share some similar combat elements such as special, coordinated team attacks and the common level-up process, their respective battle mechanics offer incredibly different experiences from one another.
While there are explosive differences between the stories, characters, and gameplay of The World Ends with You and Persona 5, the games do indeed share many similarities. In addition to the aforementioned Tokyo backdrops, both titles depict “daily life” elements such as pop culture, playing games, and hangouts. The World Ends with You and Persona 5 also share similar underlying themes in which society and the idea of standards are challenged and questioned, with each title tackling these motifs in their own, unique ways.
This is further exacerbated by both titles’ urban settings, which center ideas of people and modernity. In light of the similar elements between both games, it’s crucial to note that each game is able to distinguish itself as its own remarkable title with its own unique features.
While The World Ends with You and Persona 5 certainly appear to be alike, they both offer vast and gratifyingly different gameplay and story experiences. Fans of either title may enjoy both games as a result of both their comparable nature and contrasting styles of play.
Persona 5 and The World Ends with You continue to take the gaming world by storm with the successful worldwide release of sequel title Persona 5 Strikers and the highly anticipated arrival of incoming sequel NEO: The World Ends with You, set to launch July 27, 2021. Boasting pleasant urban zest, impactful narratives, and highly engaging gameplay, The World Ends with You and Persona 5 give players an impactful and unforgettable experience.