Digimon is a Japanese-born animated series created in 1997 to rival Pokémon. As a superior version of Tamagotchi and trading card games, our childhood weekends were worth waiting for. In 1998, we were introduced to the Digimon series video games. These games attempted to improve upon the ever popular, role-playing, dungeon- crawling games in order to make the trading card game cool again, which, at the time, were not very successful with the American audience. Today, we will have a look at one of the more recent Digimon games that finally do the series justice: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, released in February 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, features Digimon from then entirety of the franchise, from the first “Digimon Adventure” that fans first think of and love today, to more recent Digimon that aren’t as well known but still grow on you. With 240 Digimon to choose from, players can enjoy the adventure Digimon have brought us for years.
Compared to the previous games, the plot of the story is very well thought out. The player controls the main protagonist, whose name and gender can be customized, and the player’s choice of Digimon. The protagonist becomes a “cyber sleuth” or someone who investigates Digimon-related cyber crimes. As a member of a cyber-sleuth detective agency, you capture and train your Digimon in order to obtain more powerful Digimon, make friends, encounter enemies, and solve mysteries that are brought to your detective agency. To not share too much of the game’s plot, it plays out exactly like one would expect anything in the Digimon series to: with friendship, plot twists, and lots of combat.
The gameplay style is pretty straightforward and consists of two parts. The first is the free-roaming, dungeon-crawling style that gives you areas to roam around, as well as playing in various locations all over Japan. This overworld is where you will end up doing most of your detective work: talking to people, interacting with objects, and obtaining clues. The gameplay component is the combat encounters that play out very much like Pokémon’s: randomly occurring, and when they do, only certain Digimon can be found in a particular location. The combat itself is turn-based, where a timeline is displayed on the side of the screen that shows who the next combatant is, much like in the Final Fantasy series. The Digimon also have multiple types and attributes that can influence the outcome of each battle. Of course, it’s not just mindlessly roaming around, fighting everyone. There are also options like placing Digimon on your very own “farm” where one can raise the Digimon by showing them love and affection as a way to strengthen them. Eventually you gain better, more powerful Digimon. Overall, the gameplay is simple for those already familiar with the style, and for new players, it is easy to learn and adapt to.
The music, sound effects, and voice acting are highlights of the game here. All of the music used throughout the game is taken straight from the Japanese anime series, particularly the Digivolution sequences (sorry to all of you who were looking forward to a 90’s Americanized anime fueled nostalgia trip). Voice acting is also taken from the Japanese version of the anime, with English subtitles for those who aren’t fluent. Even if you don’t quite understand what the characters say, you can really feel their emotions in the voice actors’ delivery. Sound effects are extremely immersive, making players feel like they could actually be in modern-day Japan, from every footstep you take, to the honking horns of cars, to the chatter of civilians on the street!
Obviously, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has some online-battle capabilities, such as battling other players, participating in colosseum battles, and trophies that can only be obtained through the online battles.
However, there are some downsides to Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, First, while it is an entertaining story, I personally find it would be better if it had English dubbed voice-acting and Americanized digivolution sequences, for the American audiences to fully immerse into their nostalgia. Another inconvenient problem is the lack of an auto-save feature. If you die at any point in the game, it takes you to the main menu, where if you had not saved in a long time, you must do all the work again. This was standard in gaming for some time, but in 2016, autosave features are so common that it’s confusing to players when it’s presence is missing. Also, some of the powerful Digimon require specific conditions to be fulfilled to obtain them, and it requires a lot of level grinding, so be prepared for a marathon run.
All in all, this game is fun enough for all gaming enthusiast: role-playing, adventure, and action gamers alike. Better yet, it’s an action-filled treat for fans of the “Digimon” series, which is who the game is exactly for. Here’s to hoping more games like this will happen!