Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was developed by Media. Vision and published by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment. It was released, both digitally and physically, for the PlayStation 4 and Vita at $79.99. A PlayStation 4 review copy was purchased for The Hidden Levels.
Imported games from Japan have been the source of many great memories for players around over the years. Digimon has gone through 15 years of shows, games, and manga and has a cult following that will bring back fond memories of anyone’s childhood. With that said, nothing can be life-saving for the franchise as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Now that the localized version has been brought over to North America and Europe, and also upgraded to be playable on the PlayStation 4, we get to finally have a game in the series worth playing (here’s to ignoring you, Digimon All-Star Rumble).
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth lets players take the role of a young boy/girl who lives in a technologically advanced world where virtual reality is commonly used by people of all ages for many different purposes. The story begins when the protagonist’s body enters a coma and he/she is granted a digital body to enter both the real and digital worlds. The situation calls for them to become a “hacker”, an individual who is able to cause anomalies in the digital environment and train Digimon. After a private detective by the name of Kyoko discovers about the protagonist and their abilities, she allows them to become her apprentice as a cyber sleuth which involves investigating cases that has to do with both worlds.
The story is pretty original and a great take on the Digimon series. Previous Digimon games usually involve somehow saving their world just because a gigantic, evil Digimon is trying to take it over. This title, however, allows the user to transition between both worlds easily and undergoes detective cases in a somewhat point-in-click fashion. The cases that you perform aren’t that difficult, and are actually pretty easy as most of the time what you’re looking for is pretty obvious in the environment or a large exclamation mark is over an NPC’s head. Players can “Connect Jump” into people’s devices and appliances in order to usually beat a Digimon and free the NPC from the problems involved with it. There is a larger and more sinister plot behind the game involving all-consuming entities known as “Eaters”; this storytelling is really good and not the typical Digimon title as it incorporates some eerie and spooky cases like a ghost girl that haunts Shinjuku.
The game is a turn-based RPG title, the player is able to move their protagonist around different maps in the two worlds and encounter enemy Digimon to battle with their team. The player is only able to battle with three Digimon at a time but can also have more in their party roster as long as you have enough memory for it (which is upgradeable). The turn-based gameplay is rather simple like other titles but adds type advantages as Digimon are elemental and either Virus, Data, Vaccine or Neutral. The amount of Digimon in this title is the largest ever seen in anything, and gives the player a large choice of combinations in their roster, at least. More often than not, the player will be reminded of Pokemon throughout the entire game as much of it is basically the same (an NPC even makes fun of its resemblance in-game). With the inclusion of the DigiFarm and DigiBank, players will be able to collect a large assortment of these creatures. The DigiFarm also adds on a lot of gameplay as players will be able to train, investigate, and develop with them to gain new abilities and level up, find cases, and create items, respectively.
Although it’s very addicting to collect and digivolve, the pacing is a little off as players will encounter weaker enemies for the longest time until a hard opponent hits you with no warning. Digivolving is rather simple as well, but some need more requirements than others and adds more onto the nostalgic feeling. Players will need to find Digi-Eggs in order to digivolve to, say, Flamedramon or Pegasusmon and will also need their Gatomon’s and Aquilamon’s CAM to be 100% in order to create Silphymon; it’s these little details that are added to the game that past Digimon games glossed over or skipped entirely that make it so good. It’s not only the Digimon that evolve in some fashion, but the hacker’s abilities also grow as the party meets certain requirements. The hacking player is able to alter the digital world by bringing down firewalls, increasing/decreasing encounters, and even turn invisible. This adds onto the rather simple gameplay and makes it a little more than just a point-and-click adventure.
The models and animations for the digital monsters are very well done, as they not only look great but also perform their specific moves from the show and even follow the player around maps (only for the three fighters in your party). The art style for Cyber Sleuth is beautifully crafted and very reminiscent of Suzuhito Yasuda’s other works such as Durarara!! and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. It seems that while working on this game he couldn’t help but add a central colour theme to it with yellow popping up throughout the game and working for it. The costumes for each character reflects their personality well and makes them clearly distinct from each other. It’s simple to see it but all the characters and how they look are very well done for this game. Mr. Yasuda’s talent should be used for anything in the series from now on as it is a step up from the original character concepts in all of the seasons of Digimon. The environments for the cities in Japan, EDEN, and specific “URLs” like Kamishiro Enterprises look great but the other areas where you mostly fight enemies are lacking severely in distinguishable features. Everything looks like a jumbled mess of blue data which is probably what the developers were going for but still makes it feel lackluster.
The Trophies for the title are relatively simple and seem to be unlockable as you progress through the game. Most of the time they’re accumulative tasks such as battling this many times or digivolving this many creatures to Mega forms, which probably gives a longer replay value after the story has been completed. Just like how people are addicted to trying to collect and evolve every Pokemon in their games, collectors out there will want to venture out to scan and complete the roster of 240 Digimon and digivolve most of them to their Mega forms. It’s quite addicting.
In conclusion, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a title that’s worth a play for anyone who’s into the series or even anyone unfamiliar with the series but into turn-based RPGs. There’s no correlation with past works in the Digimon universe and it has its own story so any player can really get into this game without having to worry about callbacks or references. Of course, the game is extremely nostalgic for fans, making it a definite must-play for them. The gameplay is solid but a bit too easy on Normal mode and a bit too hard on Hard mode, giving no real compromise. The artwork and storytelling are great, however, and makes the game that much more interesting and fun to play.
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