I was going to write a post about how recently-released visual novel Our World Is Ended would be much better if the engaging science fiction story wasn’t interrupted by characters talking about boobs. Then middle school programming whiz Tatiana showed up and started accusing the college-aged main character of trying to steal her panties.
(Images in this post are safe for work, but contain racy text and descriptions of sexual situations. If you don’t want to see those, run.)
I was having a relatively good time playing Our World Is Ended, released earlier this month by PQube for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. The artwork is stunning. The plot involves the members of a small game development studio called Judgement 7 getting trapped in a virtual world between fiction and reality where their video game creations come to life.
It sounds like exactly my sort of game. It opens with the player character, Reiji, testing out Judgement 7’s virtual reality program on the streets of Tokyo. Everything is going well when the program glitches, giving Reiji a glimpse of a shocking, post-apocalyptic scene.
I was instantly drawn into this twisted sci-fi tale. I almost didn’t mind that every couple of minutes the game dropped everything to focus on, describe or discuss boobs. Main character Reiji is a college student, and his mind tends to wander. At least he’s creative.
We’re slowly introduced to the rest of the members of J7. There’s Owari, AKA “The Perverted Programmer”, whose description should have been my first inkling of how the game was going to go. He’s the boss of the studio. Then there’s the planner, a large, bombastic gentleman who calls himself Iruka No. 2. He is silly and fun, with the ability to somehow make his sunglasses flash in true anime hero fashion. Along with Reiji, that’s it for the team’s male contingent.
Then we have Yuno, the assistant with the large, pillowy breasts, and graphic artist Natsumi, who is the kind of girl whose breasts look small in clothes but are actually big. Yuno’s sister, Asano, does sound design for the team and has very small breasts.
How do I know all this? Because the game is constantly bombarding me with boob comments, concerns and facts. Reiji thinks about his teammates’ breasts a lot. Whether everyone is just sitting around a meeting room table or being chased by a bloodthirsty beast through the nighttime streets, Reiji is ready with boob thoughts.
Breasts are also discussed by the entire J7 team on a regular basis. The two senior male members of the group constantly debase Asano for her small chest, calling her “unfortunate” and “saddening.” Here’s this super cute anime girl with an outstanding sense of style, and she’s constantly being made feel inferior because of her measurements. No wonder she’s always punching and threatening her co-workers.
Later in the game, when the group finds themselves trapped between the real world and the game world, a non-player character named Erorie from one of their older games shows up.
Everything pretty much goes downhill from there.
“Borderline offensive” is a good way to describe how I imagine most players would have described the game to this point. I was taking it in stride, genuinely curious as to what was going on, how the worlds got twisted together and how the team was going to resolve the situation. I can handle boobs, non-penetrating tentacle monsters and Erorie being programmed to drop slimy white food on her chest.
I could not handle Tatiana.
Appearing early in the game as an avatar on a computer screen, it wasn’t until I was a few hours into the game that I got to meet Tatiana in person. Here is her description, from a press release issued around Our World Is Ended’s release:
Tatiana was born in Russia but she has lived in Japan since her childhood. She usually works as a programmer at research institutes while attending junior high school in Hokkaido. She is a super genius also known as “Russian’s Hidden Treasure” but apart from her programming skills, she is inferior to most of the children of her age. Her basic social and living skills are more around the lower elementary school or kindergarten level.
So she is a very young genius with poorly-developed social skills. Here’s a screenshot of Reiji and Tatiana’s first in-person meeting.
We’ve got a child sprawled on the ground. To the left is a case with children’s underwear and a stuffed bunny spilling out. There’s some more underwear scattered about. Off to her right is a lollipop. To top it off, she’s shouting about her panties.
What. The. Fuck.
It’s bad enough that nothing on the game’s official website suggests any sort of overly sexual content. It’s at least rated M for mature by the ESRB, whose description goes into great detail about what’s going on.
This is a visual novel in which players assume the role of Reiji Gozen, a member of a game developer group creating augmented reality programs in Tokyo. As players progress through the narrative, they make action and dialogue choices that can lead to still-image sequences depicting violence and blood: characters shot by pistols; blood splatter on walls, tables, and around victims’ bodies. The game contains some sexual material: female characters wearing skimpy outfits (e.g., deep cleavage), often viewed via close-up camera angles; still-images of moaning characters, covered in slime and restrained by tentacles; sexual references in the dialogue (e.g., “Your breasts are soo big” ;“I can feel her breasts 30% better than before, too”; “I’m so w*t that I might go over the edge”; “I don’t wanna die for your damn porn even if it kills me.”). The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” and “a*shole” appear in the game.
But nothing prepared me for the Tatiana scenes. She talks about her breasts. She calls people, the player character included, perverts, suggesting they are after her underwear. At one point her father shows up as Reiji is putting Tatiana down for a nap and accuses him of molesting her.
I reached out to Nintendo and Sony about Our World Is Ended, passing along a description and several screenshots of Tatiana-related situations, but neither company got back to me in time for publication. UK-based publisher PQube sent a statement to Kotaku earlier today, saying the game is already under review.
As always, our mission at PQube is to bring games from Asia to the west, taking care to ensure that they align with the original as closely as possible.
However, we also have a very strong bond with our community and fans and so are always mindful of paying close attention to, and implementing, any feedback.
Since release we took on board a lot of feedback and have already been reviewing Our World Is Ended to help make improvements to ensure it is as enjoyable as possible to our wider community.
Careful trimming could make Our World Is Ended less offensive. It’s murky censorship territory, but I don’t imagine many people complaining about removing the blatant sexualization of a middle schooler from the game.
Whatever action PQube takes, I am done. Maybe I’ve already seen all of the “racy” interactions the player has with Tatiana, but I’ve seen enough. I will not be finishing Our World Is Ended. I am amazed the game made it onto the PlayStation 4 in North America, let alone the Nintendo Switch. I am a huge proponent of racy console games, but there are limits. This game crossed them.