Despite my obsession with Pokemon and other games of similar nature I have yet to explore the world of Digimon. What better time to do so than with the franchise’s latest installment, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, released to the western world. It is originally a PlayStation Vita game but is now available on PlayStation 4.
This turn-based role playing game definitely has more than a few key similarities to my beloved Pokémon series; You run around the world making friends with intelligent creatures known as Digimon, these creatures can be “caught” by facing them in battle, once in your party you can level them up and eventually evolve them into bigger stronger creatures.
Though similar style games there are certainly some differences. Digimon can be both evolved and de-evolved. Unlike Pokémon, earlier stage evolutions don’t necessarily mean weaker. De-digivolving (as the game calls it) a creature increases its maximum level and can even earn it new moves. This allows the player to find a Digimon they like and, despite its stage of evolution, still have a strong version of it. Digimon also have multiple possible evolutions. Digivoling and De-digivolving up and down the evolution tree in different directions lets the Digimon learn a more diverse variety of moves.
The universe in which the Digimon exist and the premise of the story has a sci-fi vibe. Your character, a young boy or girl, experiences a bizarre event in the virtual world of Cyberspace Eden. This leaves you with a half digitalized body and the ability to jump into the virtual world through terminals. After returning the real world with this strange body you soon join the Kuremi Detective Agency to help solve cyber-crimes and ultimately what caused your bodily transformation.
There are three main areas to discover; The real world, the virtual world and the DigiLab. The real world is where most of the sleuth side of things occur. It generally involves running around the real world and questioning individuals in order to solve cyber-crimes or mysteries. They however aren’t very engaging and the themes don’t pique interest either. It sadly is all just a bit dull as missions generally lack diversity and the conversations with individuals aren’t all that fascinating.
The virtual world is where you interact with and fight alongside with Digimon. You do also need to visit this world for some of your cyber sleuthing. Unfortunately, the Levels aren’t very big and don’t offer much variety. For instance, the area of Kowloon is made up of small indistinct sections of blue floors and walls that all look very much the same. Unlocking a new floor is simply not as exciting as it should be.
Despite the inadequate Level design, they are quite bright and the Digimon following you around also adds a bit of vibrant colour to the visuals. You will likely find yourself spending most of your time in the virtual world as that is where the Digimon are. I spent most of my time running around trying evolve different Digimon. This part of the game is quite fun, and just like in Pokémon, I just had to discover them all. The Digimon aspect is really the biggest draw card for this game.
The DigiLab is where you manage all your Digimon. Here you can convert collected data on Digimon you have come across in battle into new usable Digimon of your own. This hub is where you can, when certain prerequisites are met, Digivolve and De-digivolve your Digimon. Lastly there is the DigiFarm where Digimon can level up and train to get stronger.
This really makes the whole evolution process a bit easier aswell. The DigiLab is one place you will quickly become familiar with as managing all these aspects is quite addictive.
Combat is turn based with the speed of each creature deciding the order in which each one gets a turn to attack. You can have a max of three active Digimon with the possibility to bring others along should someone be knocked out halfway through a level. I enjoyed combat as there are different moves with different levels of effectiveness to take into consideration. It is however simple in nature and easy to understand.
For a PlayStation 4 game, graphics aren’t top notch. The style does carry a generic anime approach but the polygons are quite obvious and really feel PlayStation 3 era. Music can get repetitive and sometimes even on your nerves but I guess that is what mute buttons are for. The game is in Japanese, which means it is entirely subtitled, so you can easily go the whole game with the sound off.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth can be a fun game but the fun is more from the Digimon side of things than the cyber sleuth part. The premise is interesting but the story seems to lose you after a while. Why solve mysteries when you can discover all new Digimon.
As a newcomer to the franchise, discovering all the new types and possible evolutions held my attention the most. Sadly, the rest of the game did not.
Released: February 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG, Turn Based
Developer: Media Vision
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment