Digimon World: Next Order Review
The first Digimon World game arrived in North America for the PlayStation console in 2000 and to this day I still go back from time to time to revisit its fun, but arduous, adventure. Raising your own digital monster, training them at the gym, taking them into unique combat, and watching them… defecate definitely put an impression on me as a child. Throughout the years after its release there were other Digimon titles released but nothing with the same pizzazz as they switched to the turn-based and fighting genres. Finally, after 16 years, a spiritual successor has been released that includes identical game-play called Digimon World: Next Order. In this title, however, you’ll have to raise two Digimon instead of one and take them to save the city of Floatia in the Digital World by bringing back its inhabitants and figuring out what’s making Digimon turn evil. Is this game going to excel expectations or fail as a copy-and-paste of Digimon World?
Nostalgic for veterans, refreshing for newcomers: For veterans out there from the original Digimon World scene, you’ll feel an instant wave of nostalgia as you enter Jijimon’s house and everything appears the same but with better graphics. It really did bring back good memories and feels true to the original title as you choose your initial partner Digimon from the eggs presented to you. Newcomers out there will experience a refreshing form of game-play unalike other titles out there lately. They may be Digimon fans that have never played the original, or just anime watchers, but it’s a different feeling than typical titles that consist of turn-based play. The cycle of each Digimon changes according to how you treated them in their last life, which was always a unique feature about DW.
Interesting combat game-play: The combat follows the original very much but is improved with a wheel that stops time for five seconds to give the player a choice of using buffing abilities or an Ultimate special. The player uses the L1 or R1 buttons to choose between individual abilities or both to use synchronized abilities such as Digi-Fuse to combine the two Digimon into one. This eliminates the situation of getting overwhelmed by multiple enemies that have spotted you while adventuring through the lands. The combat feels overhauled from the original and definitely makes you feel more involved now during battles. Upgrading your Tamer skills leads to more commands being unlocked so that battles can become even more intricate, making you think twice about your strategy before heading up against a wild Digimon.
Large roster of Digimon: While the last title, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, had a large assortment of Digimon available to be on your team Next Order has the option to digivolve to even more. While some are painfully just color-palette versions of classic Digimon, others are a welcome addition to the roster as they’ve never been seen in predecessors. Certain Digimon require specific stats in order to digivolve into them which, oftentimes, won’t happen the first go around. Unless you’re looking up guides, you need to unlock the stat requirements by bonding with that current Digimon which adds a ton of playing time.
Tedious raising: While veterans will be extremely familiar with how tedious it is raising a Digimon to a high level and digivolving them far many newcomers won’t understand it. It can become quite arduous getting used to constantly having your partners die on you after raising their stats so high in the gym and spending so much time raising them. Not to mention that when they do, you’ll have to wait until they have high enough strength in order to take them out into the field again or into territories that need high-level Digimon. It becomes easier as you go along and upgrade Tamer skills to accommodate but still gets frustrating as you need to start all over just to proceed with the story.
Never get Numemon: There is more heavy emphasis on this aspect of the title than the battle system as it affects your Digimon’s efficiency during bouts, as well. This may not seem particularly appealing to those accustomed to either turn-based or action-RPG titles as it’s a hybrid of both, in a way. Learning how to properly balance both Digimon, as well, is key to being successful but can become extremely annoying if one of them goes astray and, for example, turns into Numemon. It throws the equilibrium off balance as it will die sooner than the other, taking quite a few lives before they come back to the same point.
At least give me a skateboard: Any form of speed boost to make your character move faster across the map would have improved the pacing immensely as it takes forever just to get back to the city if you’re not willing to get an Auto or pay Birdramon ridiculous amounts of Bits. Heading out into the world prepared with a loaded inventory works for awhile up until you hit a harder difficulty area past the last boss you defeated. It’ll make you re-evaluate and realize you need more training for your Digimon, and then start the long journey back to town. It’s sluggish to watch the boy/girl run and quite infuriating for the impatient players out there. Next Order is unforgiving in more ways than one.
Music/sounds wear on the psyche: There’s a musical track for each location that you visit, making them all feel distinct but let’s face it, the majority of the time you’ll be spending is in Floatia. A lot of these tracks were ported over from the original, especially File City to Floatia, and it gets extremely annoying. This, coupled with the sounds your Digimon makes constantly whilst training or demanding food, begins to wear on the player mentally. Harking back to the good old days with Digimon World the first, I found myself muting the sound all together in the game just to get through it. Even then, the sounds of your partners moans drills into your brain.
Overall, Digimon World: Next Order did a phenomenal job at bringing back the classic feeling of accomplishment from raising digital friends from the original. I’d highly recommend veterans to pick it up if they enjoyed the first one and want a polished version of it in terms of game-play, graphics, and roster. The landscapes, digital monsters, and special moves performed look great graphically and the battle music really gets the heart-pumping. It’s also recommended for players out there who want a change of pace in the gaming world as it feels different from major AAA games out there but, as a warning, can be frustrating at times. If playing Tomagatchi or Pokemon was never your thing, it’s best to skip out on this one.
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Digimon World: Next Order was developed by B.B. Studio and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 4 [reviewed] and PlayStation Vita on January 27th, 2017 in Europe, January 31st in North America, and February 26th in Japan. A press review copy was purchased for review by The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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