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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review

by Dean James

Digimon may be more well known for its numerous anime series over the years, but the franchise first began as simple virtual pets that could duel one another. As the anime rose in popularity, the video game output grew exponentially with series like Digimon World. While the West has mostly been skipped over since 2008, that trend is finally over with the classic styled JRPG Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.

The Digimon franchise has provided fans with various different storylines over the years, featuring multiple human characters across different continuities. However, the one mainstay has been the actual Digimon themselves. New Digimon have been introduced over the years, but the majority of them have been around since the early years, which is certainly seen in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth as well.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth introduces an in-game virtual world known as EDEN. This Second Life type of experience seems to have some major flaws though, as hackers have taken over portions of this world that lives between the real world and the Digital World, where the data devouring Eaters are also becoming a major problem. These issues set you up to become a Cyber Sleuth, where you try and solve a variety of Digimon-related cases that have begun to also affect the real world.

The story itself is actually rather dark, as one of the plotlines revolves around characters falling into comas as a result of going into EDEN. The Digimon series has never strayed away from the more emotional plot lines, so it really was great to see that brought over to this game as well, even if it does take a little while to really get going.

Near the start, you will have the option to choose between three starting rookie level Digimon, Terriermon, Palmon, and Hagurumon. The disappointing part about this is that your choice does not matter all that much, as you can get these Digimon relatively quickly in the early portions of the game. Part of the choice in something like the Pokemon series is the fact that you only get one, but that is far from the case here with the ability to obtain an array of Digimon through combat, including each of the starting three.

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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth features a turn-based battle system that many developers have begun to move away from in favor of the more action-oriented gameplay style. Instead, this game seems to take a lot of inspiration from something like the Persona series, though the enemies do not show up in the overworld.

The fights themselves consist of up to three Digimon on your team at one time, along with reserve members. The different Digimon take turns using either their basic attack moves or their various skills that are unlocked as they get higher in level. There is much more to this rather intricate gameplay system though, as attack effectiveness also comes into play, depending on Digimon and attack types.

Digimon type in battle is split in a few different ways, with the first depending on the Digimon’s type between Vaccine, Virus, Data and free, with differences leading to two times or halved damage in battle. Beyond these are the elemental types, such as fire and wind, that can be tied into the aforementioned types as well. With the fact that the elemental are separated a lot, this can get rather confusing, as it is not the easiest thing to keep up with.

At the start of the game, you will only have one Digimon to battle with, but that will change very quickly due to the game’s Digimon “capture” system. Instead of actually catching wild Digimon in battle that will then join your team, you will scan data during each battle based on the opponents. Each individual Digimon will raise the scan percentage by a certain amount, such as 25%, which will then be uploaded into the DigiLab. After reaching 100% of any specific Digimon, you can create that actual creature to add to your team, though it is always recommended to try and go for the max 200% for the highest potential.

This method of capturing Digimon is very refreshing and feels natural for a franchise like this that is all about digital data, while also providing you with a stellar roster of different Digimon to create. These Digimon are stored in the DigiBank, which you can then transfer to your party, depending on your memory limits. Each Digimon has a specific amount of memory that it takes up, which forces you to use some strategy as to who to put into your party, especially when Digivolutions come into play.

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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth includes all of the Digimon levels you would expect, starting with the Fresh form and going all the way up to Mega, including Armor and DNA Digivolutions as well. With all the evolutions, there are just under 250 Digimon to obtain in the game, with the game’s leveling system easily allowing you to try many different Digimon out. The inclusion of the DigiFarm is excellent as well, as it will help to level up Digimon that aren’t in your party throughout the game to more effectively reach the levels required to get many of the evolutions.

The method of capturing Digimon is very refreshing

The Digivolving system also has a lot of strategy interlaced in it, as Digivolving and de-Digivolving will take the Digimon back to Level 1, which can then be raised again from that point. This is necessary to reach certain forms, as each one has different Digimon that it can transform into, depending on a number of prerequisites. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth does require a good bit of time to obtain some Digimon, which is largely rooted in the fact that the game has been ported from a handheld, but it manages to avoid feeling like a total grindfest.

A few others departments in the game are not so lucky, as they are definitely hampered by the fact that the original version of the game was for PS Vita. The visuals themselves are decent throughout most of the game, but there are some parts where they are downright poor. The colorful environments and very few anime style cutscenes help to make up for it, but the game definitely has its bad spots graphically. Thankfully, it does perform very well on PS4, with no slowdowns and fairly quick loading times between areas.

The game also features mostly linear dungeons to navigate during each mission, with only few branching paths to collect treasures. This is likely due to being initially developed for a handheld that is built for a quick pickup and go experience, rather than a longer expansive outing. This is by no means a short game, as it offers hours upon hours of content as a whole, though done in smaller chunks for most of the game.

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Bandai Namco also made the decision to forgo dubbing the game, instead providing only the original Japanese voices. The voice actors used in the game are quite good for the most part, but it would have certainly been nice to hear some of the familiar voices for Digimon that show up in the main story, especially as this is the first game the US has gotten in awhile outside of Digimon All-Star Rumble in 2014.

The Verdict

While the West may have been skipped over for much of the last decade with Digimon games, fans can rejoice over Bandai Namco’s choice to localize Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. The game may be held back a little by its handheld roots, but the combat system offers a classic feel that is missing all too much these days, with nearly 250 Digimon available to find. Longtime fans of the franchise will find plenty of reasons to love this game, while others may even want to check it out as a stopgap before Persona 5 comes out.

"loved"
loved

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

  • Available On: PS4, PS Vita
  • Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developed By: Media Vision
  • Genre: RPG
  • US Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
  • Reviewed On: PS4
  • Quote: "While the West may have been skipped over for much of the last decade with Digimon games, fans can rejoice over Bandai Namco's choice to localize Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, as they will find plenty of reasons to love this game with its nearly 250 different Digimon available."
Review Policy

The Good

  • Large variety of Digimon
  • Classic battle system
  • Complex Digivolution lines
  • Solid story

The Bad

  • Held back by handheld roots
  • No English dub
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