So many games these days are doing their own take on the Pokémon gameplay loop, from World of Final Fantasy, to the newer Monster Hunter stories, to the Digimon series. There is a reason for this, because it’s wonderful and satisfying to play. Despite being new to the series, I slid straight into enjoying Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory.
Digimon Story, Cyber Sleuth: Hackers Memory puts you in the story of Keisuke who joins a group of hackers to get his online account back after it was stolen. With the help of these hackers in Cyberspace EDEN, Keisuke uses the ability to capture Digimon and use them to help him complete tasks and right the wrongs against him.
The story is interesting, with a shifting tone. It sometimes tries to be dark and serious with its hacking, then becomes as silly as you can expect from crazy anime styled game released these days. This tone does feel uneven throughout, but it’s tough to critique it too hard when it gave me some genuine laughs.
The gameplay itself is simple, especially in battles built on the classic turn-based style. On the side of the screen is a list of the characters who have their turns lined up, which makes planning in a turn-based game awesome. Collecting the Digimon is done a little differently to classic capturing styles. What happens is the more you fight the Digimon, the more data you gain on them, and once you get 100% or higher, from repeated fights, you can then recreate them in the Digilab.
The Digilab is where you turn your data on the Digimon into new Digimon and can then proceed to stick them in your party or set them free on the Digifarm to do other tasks such as getting stronger, collecting data for side missions, or item gathering. This is also where you Digivolve or devolve your Digimon.
Fans and ex fans of the series will remember that rather than concentrating on new forms gaining power, there are elements and benefits to devolving your Digimon. Aside from the fact that you can Digivolve into different forms being an incentive, there is a stat that is only boosted by Digivolvling and devolving your Digimon.
The game isn’t perfect, and is certainly flawed, such as the subtler issue of the options, or start, button bringing up an option to cancel to the main screen, losing your progress, through to the early dialogues heavy phase. The start button issue may seem petty, but as with most games I tend to hit that button to pause, so that option being the only one popping up was a major and unnecessary, looming threat.
The early dialogue heavy phase basically involved me not getting a second Digimon until the third chapter. You can feasibly get it earlier if you know what to expect and do some grinding but following the story naturally I found the clear majority of the first couple of chapters by reading text. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but without some more entertaining gameplay dotted in there it does get a little bland. This also isn’t helped by no English voice overs, so expect to read, a lot.
The other minor snag is the map, which you can bring up any time. The map shows the small segment you are usually in but doesn’t include a marker for where you are. Again, this is minor, but it’s a minor annoyance that crops up regularly throughout the game, especially when you are in new areas.
Aesthetically it’s a very good-looking game. It’s not top of its class but sits in the higher end of middle quality JRPGs. The character designs and shading remind me significantly of Danganronpa, but the free roaming graphics are above the mid-low budget JRPGs fans of NIS styled games are used to.
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory is a good game. It has its flaws which when acknowledged don’t retract much from the overall experience. If you can power through the early chapters, and any time outside of EDEN, then it is a game well worth anyone’s time.
Released: January 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: JRPG, Action