The World Next Door

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
The World Next Door Game Poster Image
Beautiful anime adventure has clever gameplay, profanity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Loyalty and the bonds of friendship are the core of the story. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters span a large range of personalities: they can be kind, snarky, studious, rebellious, or shy.

Ease of Play

Match-3 combat takes quick reflexes, but puzzles take organized thought.


A good part of gameplay is combat, but it's bloodless fantasy battles against magical monsters. 


Some talk of secret admirers and crushes. Curvy main character wears midriff-baring shirt and short shorts. 


Frequent use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," goddamn," and mild curses like "damn," "hell," and "crap." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of teen characters drinking beer. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The World Next Door is a downloadable single-player anime-style adventure game for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs. The storyline revolves around two kidnapped teens and follows a group of teenage friends who drink beer, break the law by entering off-limits dangerous places, conspire to hide a friend from the authorities, and get arrested. The gameplay features profanity like "s--t" and "goddamn" as well as fantasy combat that's frequent but without blood or gore. Teen characters talk about partying and drinking beer and engage in mildly flirtatious dialogue.

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What's it about?

THE WORLD NEXT DOOR is a fantasy adventure game with match-3 puzzle elements. It follows Jun, a human teenage girl attending an interplanetary festival on a magical world called Emrys. The portal between Earth and Emrys closes, trapping Jun on Emrys; unfortunately, since humans can't live long on Emrys, Jun and her friends must find a way to reopen the portal. Gameplay alternates between talking to friends either in person or through a phone chat interface and fighting monsters in a series of themed shrines. The latter involves casting spells on a 2D playing field by matching three or more colored runes. Puzzles involve a similar approach: Players match colored runes either to destroy a target or eliminate the runes from the board. Exploration rewards players with items and achievements, as does completing the various side quests.

Is it any good?

This game's clever premise, gorgeous art, and fresh take on match-3 gameplay make it a standout even among much bigger games. The space magic premise of The World Next Door will surely win over would-be planet-hoppers, and if it doesn't, the colorful, anime-style graphics are sure to seal the deal. Art and design are stellar here, and the vibrant color palette (taken right from a candy box) screams "magical world." The dialogue keeps things familiar, though, and characters contend with the same relatable fears most teenagers face. The talky bits are good, but the action sequences are even better, thanks to a smart reimagining of match-3 gameplay. Match-3 becomes combat as the heroine dashes around what looks like a light-up dance floor, casting spells by matching colored runes. And though her squad tends to stand by and let Jun do the fighting, she can activate their unique skills by matching runes so that they form special shapes. The process makes combat fast-moving and challenging, and though controls are simple enough (provided you use a game controller; keyboard controls are not so good), winning takes forethought and quick reflexes. Beyond combat, this unique matching mechanic is also used for slower, more cerebral puzzles.

With such a heady mix of graphics and gameplay, The World Next Door should be perfect. Unfortunately, the writing knocks it down a star. Not the writing as a whole; the story's interesting and the dialogue's funny and believable. The problem is that a core mystery is established at the start of the game that begs for resolution, but in the end it remains unsolved. It's a surprising let-down that could leave a bad taste in your mouth after so much time spent getting invested in the characters. Still, even with this disappointment, The World Next Door is great-looking, interesting, and fun, and interplanetary travelers will agree it's well worth a visit. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The World Next Door portrays teen life. Do you think the game gets it right? Why or why not? 

  • What are you willing to do for your friends? Why is being loyal important for your friendships and relationships?

  • Is there ever a time authority figures shouldn't be obeyed? 

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventures

Themes & Topics

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