Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Simulation & Role-Playing
Release Date: 15th of March, 2018 (Worldwide)
When it comes to sims, the aim of the game is to remove us from the life we live and place us in a world, where we can create a live we want to live. Not all of them get it right, but there are many that successfully pulled it off. Sadly, WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom is not one such title.
Originally made for mobile devices in 2016, by Althi, WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom is the sixth instalment of a series of simulation RPG games, with this title being dedicated to letting players experience the daily lifestyle one can expect from Elena Kingdom. It’s not that much different to our own life, as there are plenty of menial tasks/chores to put up with, including socializing with the residents who call the Elnea Kingdom home. You can even go about getting a job, fight monsters and befriend plenty of different NPC’s who will actually take an interest in you, once you establish yourselves as friends. It’s certainly an awesome touch to try and make Elnea feel a little more life-like.
More than just making friends though, which is something that can be done with the various NPC’s by repeatedly talking to them over and over, until a friendship is cemented (only takes a few minutes,) you can also get married. Yup, that’s right, if you like what you can see, you can put a ring on it. Within two hours of starting a new game, creating your own customisable, playable character and undergoing the tutorial to learn the basic, you can go off and find an NPC of the opposite sex and pursue them. (You can even go on to have children with them as well if that’s what you’re into, despite being 6 years old, because 6 in Elnea is 18 in our world. The life cycle in this game is rather short so it is more relative to dog years than actual human years. Also, the offspring is playable as well, with the cycle of gameplay being able to continue with them. But I’ll go more in-depth on this a little later on in the review.
Due to the fact that you can interact with so many NPCs, here lies my first complaint, as with having this many NPCs to interact with and no real special dialogues to be had with them, due to limited options, and how easy it is to become friends with them, it swiftly feels like an unnecessary step. Sure, the NPCs will come over and strike a conversation from time to time, but it just feels like there’s no real purpose to trying to befriend everyone. For me, this is a shame. Having played many different life sims, being friends with an NPC is something that happens because you wanted to be friends with, because they stand out and because they are unique (looking at you Cyrano and Lolly from New Leaf.)
In Elnea Kingdom however, no one stands out. Your own character even lacks personality. Had some more lines of dialogue been available to make conversations a little more fresh and enjoyable, WorldNeverland’s social aspect would have been much more different and possibly, even rewarding to play but it isn’t. Should simply being friends not be enough for you, you can also chat more to become close friends, which allows you to do activities with them. If they are the opposite gender and you spend more time with them, soon you can start dating (go fishing together or picking herbs together, with some revised dialogue and having to meet them in the town square before leaving as a couple.)
Aside from being chatty and getting hitched, activity wise, there are a few things you can do to live out a reasonably full life. There are your usual quests that Wiala (one of the first characters in the game to welcome you and runs the local bar) gives you. They aren’t really fun nor all that original, but they can help you get some cold hard cash. A lot of the time though it is the same thing over and over again that the fun of the act is soon cut short. Then there’s the quests that other NPCs can give you. These can be pretty random but they can also be rare.
As for other things you can do, there is fishing and collecting herbs, which I mentioned earlier. Not only these are the only two real side activities that you can do with NPCs, but they’re also boring. To gather herbs, you have to go into a patch of grass and press ‘A’ repeatedly. To fish, you don’t even have to properly approach the shoreline, as you can stand a few feet back, throw your line in and press A. Admittedly, this time around you have to be a little more strategic and press ‘A’ at certain intervals to wear the fish out. With regards to the benefits of these acts, with the herbs you can gather, you can deposit them to get work points (the more you have, the higher the salary you will earn each year). Also, similar to real life, with jobs, there are special benefits to be had, including housing.
Something else that you can do with the NPCs however, is a little more action-focused, as you can actually go adventuring with them. Although WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom is a simulation game, it’s also an RPG game. So, with dungeons that can be explored and monsters to fight, you can liven things up a little bit, but not all that much. As a feature that could have held a lot of promise, again it is not as fun as it could have been. You press ‘A’ to have your character advance forwards, in a linear area and if you stumble into an enemy you, combat is immediately triggered.
Thankfully, the actual RPG combat is somewhat similar to what gamers are used to as thanks to the use of Magic Points and differing attacks, with the most devastating move requiring more MP than others. 5 attacks can be used per each turn and should you run out, you can also defend, so as to reduce the amount of damage you will receive. Being so that it’s dangerous to go alone, friends can help, to try and turn the tide in your favour, should you find yourself struggling alone. But, as I somewhat expected after experiencing WorldNeverland’s other “delights,” the whole RPG angle and dungeon exploring, was just something else that failed to live up to be all that it could be, thus resulting into being a tedious affair that I simply choose not to invest all of my time into. The rewards and perks, were simply not worth it.
Visually, the game is pleasant enough but it does seem a little generic. When it was just a mobile title, it could get away with quite a few things this game does graphically but for a console title, there are some things that should have been addressed. On the plus side, the in-game titles and menus are well presented and easy to read. The general aesthetic of the towns and landscapes, though a bit bland and repetitive, are colourful and nicely rendered. The problem lies in the actual character models. The character models have noticeable polygonal features and show almost no means of natural expression. NPC’s are very androgynous looking with no distinguishing features between male or female characters.
Game controls are pretty simple. There are no combos or chain commands, not even in battles. Sadly, WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom does not support the Pro controller, so if you hoped to use one, you can’t, as you are restricted to only using Joy-Cons. What’s worse, being a made for mobile game, you would have also thought that certain elements of touch-screen controls would have been maintained but or at least implemented with the Switch port, but nope. It just wasn’t meant to be and does come across as laziness on the developer’s part, since it would have been a nice touch that would have only added to the overall game, due to easier and quicker menu navigating.
WorldNeverland: Elnea Kingdom isn’t at all what I had hoped it would be. There is a nice presentation to it and I’m sure there will be plenty of gamers who would find it interesting, but as a sim lover myself, it is not something I could ever recommend. Everything from the setting, to the relationships and even the activities, fail to stand out and from the crowd, as they’re simply generic at best. What’s worse is the fact that the fun does not last as WorldNeverland is one of those games that can get boring very quickly. Add in the fact that the Switch port of a free mobile game, asks for $29.99 just for you to own it and there’s DLC you can buy on top from the eShop (additional costumes and the like), it all just adds up to WorldNeverLand: Elnea Kingdom, being a game you should just flat-out avoid. So, if you must get a sim game for your Switch, I highly recommend Chucklefish’s Stardew Valley. It’s cheaper, it’s better and most of all, you won’t regret buying it!
THE VERDICT: 4/10
*Review Key Provided by Althi
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