While I enjoyed the first episode well enough, I found the second one to be a superior chapter in almost every way. You absolutely should take the time to view the first episode before delving into this one, and while it is not as good, the experience in this next chapter would be lacking without the foundation of the first.
The events of the first episode left Haru and his friends in a terrible situation. One of the issues I struggled with during the first episode was that Haru was simply not a likeable protagonist. I enjoyed his companions a great deal more, and when events kicked off in WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.02, I was dismayed to see arguably my favorite character from the first chapter is nowhere to be seen.
However, the writing in WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.02 is an improvement from the first episode and the characters get to show growth in this story that picks up four years after the end of the first chapter. Not only is the characterization improved, but on a technical level so is the translation. There were times in the first episode where the grammar just did not quite mesh, and for a game that hangs its hat solely on the narrative, it was at times disappointing. Here there is considerably more polish and the end result is a smoother, easier read.
I do not know if it is because of the easier read that the novel comes to an end more quickly than the first chapter or if it is simply because there is less content to cover (my feeling is that it is bits of both), but I was able to complete this episode a couple of hours more quickly than the first. Since there are no game over states or anything that causes you to repeat scenarios, this is more related to your ability to read and digest the story than anything mechanical that sets the duration.
While I was not a big fan of Haru in the first game, he does make strides towards being a more likeable character in WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.02. A new primary character named Eleanor attempts to replace the missing character from the first chapter as a primary female presence, and she mostly succeeds because she brings a different kind of dynamic to the story. While the missing character was more of a peer to Haru, Eleanor is a wealthy woman who wnts to put Haru’s intellect to use for her own purposes, making her a more commanding presence in the story.
Of the returning characters, Chris feels more developed as well and gets a bit more time in the spotlight this time around. Conversely a couple of the others are still ever-present and offering advice along the way, but they have slightly less impact this time around. One thing that stood out to me was how topical WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.02 felt at times. While it is a science fiction story, it has some economic and social commentary in the story that has a familiar ring in reality as well, making it more relatable.
The art in the first episode was perfectly fine, and while it is not leaps and bounds better here in the second chapter, like the localization effort, there is just a bit more polish and the end result is a more appealing visual experience. As noted in my review of the first chapter, this is a linear game. You are not making choices or driving any aspect of the story in a particular direction. Spicy Tails has decided that there is a very specific story to be told, and that is what happens here. That lack of interaction will likely rub some people the wrong way, but for those who enjoy some good visuals and some outstanding music with your narrative, WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.02 should suit you quite well.
Article by Nick