There are few games out there that I find “truly addicting”. I’m the kind of gamer who would take frequent breaks, or not stay up too late playing a singular title. However, one game I played as of late I found fairly addicting. Sure, it could have been just because of its nostalgic nature, or just because I liked the character designs. Whatever the case was, it was a still great experience from start to finish!
This game I’m talking about is Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. It’s a game that spun-off from the multimedia giant known as the “Digimon” series. I haven’t played many Digimon games, but I have grown up with the various TV shows as a child. And when I heard about this game featuring my favorite digital monsters in a decidedly adult setting with mature story-telling, I was sold! A game where I’m a cyber-detective, collect digital monsters, and fight parasitic digital abominations? How could I not say no to that!? So, ladies, gentlemen, and digital creatures, I present to you: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.
Need To Know Information:
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a JRPG that was developed by Media.Vision and published by Bandai-Namco. Media.Vision is best known for developing for the Wild Arms and Valkyria Chronicles series.The game is based on the long-running Digimon franchise, and is set in an alternate continuity separate from other parts of the series. Cyber Sleuth was made as part of the 15th anniversary of the franchise and is aimed towards a decidedly more adult crowd. It’s the first Digimon game to receive a “T for Teen” rating in the west by the USRB.
The game features a ton of Digimon from across the franchise and was initially released in 2015 in Japan. Original, there were no plans to bring it over to North America. However, a very large petition for the game by American fans caused Bandai-Namco to see the worth in bringing the game over here. Thus, Cyber Sleuth was released in America with some added content and an English localization in February 2016. The game is available on both Playstation Vita and Playstation 4, but this review will be focused primarily on the Vita version.
The game takes place in a world much like our own. Technology has become common place, as well as internet slang and social media. Unlike our world though, the social media technology in this universe is leaps and bounds ahead of Facebook or Twitter. In this world, the virtual-reality community known as “Eden” has taken social media by storm. No longer are users using Reddit, but instead community through this vast virtual environment. It’s kind of like Oz from Summer Wars, just with less rabbits and rogue AI programs. What this world has instead is “Digimon”, AKA “Digital Monsters”. Unlike in previous series, Digimon are not just adorable pets for kids. In this story, they are tools used by hackers.
The game starts with you and your nameable protagonist entering Eden and talking in a chat-room. A hacker enters and taunts you and a couple of strangers into venturing into “Kowloon”, a URL home to various vicious hackers. Reluctantly, you do so and our given the ability to hack. However, upon receiving this ability and attempting to log-out, you are attacked by a vicious nautilus-shaped monsters known as a “Eater”. Your body becomes half-digitized, causing you to exist as a being that is part-digital and part-physical.
With a half-digitized body, you are found by a young detective named “Kyoko Kuremi”. You are immediately thrust into a new job as an assistant detective working for this mysterious yet very beautiful woman. You, along with Kyoko and a wide assortment of colorful characters must fight the Eater threat, regain your former body, and do battle against a mysterious lurking evil pulling the strings.
The plot to the game may seem like your typical darker Shonen anime-type story, but it definitely brings a whole new edge to the Digimon series. It’s darker than even Digimon Tamers, yet still retains a good sense of humor. The plot does drag at several points, and there is a ton of non-consequential filler as well. One example of this is when the plot required me to acquire two intangible concepts from two characters I’ve had little interaction with this up to this point. I then had to travel to an alternate universe, help a random character I’ve never heard of defeat a villain that I’ve also never heard of, and then go back to my own universe just so I can fight a character who wouldn’t even come into play until much later in the game. It seemed like a lot of pointless padding, especially for a game that was rocking a unique premise. Despite the large amounts of filler and padding, I generally did enjoy the story.
The game focuses on turn-based combat; which is very common for a lot of JRPGs. You form a party out of the Digimon you acquire and are allowed to have up to a maximum of three with you in combat. The game also allows you to have other Digimon as backup in your party, allowing you to switch between them mid-combat. This allows you experiment with different combinations of party members and find the right combination that works for you. The various Digimon you acquire and fight will belong to different types, and certain types will be more effective than others. This is why it’s good to build a team of various types so you don’t get sidelined in combat by enemies belonging to a certain class of Digimon.
During combat, you can also use various items such as healing items and power-buffs. Stats are important to Digimon, as the stats can change how a battle plays out. For example, if you have a Digimon with very high speed, then he will be allowed more turns to attack the enemy. Things like this really help spice up the combat, as having a Digimon that excels in a certain stat will completely turn the tide of battle. For example, one of the Digimon in my second playthrough was “Jankoomon”, who had an absurdly large amount of HP. This effectively made him a gigantic damage-sponge, being able to soak up more damage than the enemies could dish out! As well as being able to attack on their own turns, sometimes your Digimon will team up for massively powerful attacks. I found the combat in this game to be fun, but repetitive. Combat always plays out the same way, but what keeps it fresh is the various abilities and attacks the Digimon can acquire. With new moves and abilities being introduced with every Digimon you obtain, gameplay remains somewhat-fresh throughout most of the campaign.
The game itself offers a wide-range of Digimon from all seasons of the show, including a lot of more obscure Digimon. As well as having various differing types, most Digimon come in a multitude of different forms. You have In-Training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, Mega, and Ultra. You can “Digivolve” your Digimon into a multitude of forms, or even De-Digivolve them into a previous form. Every-time you Digivolve or De-Digivolve your Digimon, they are reset back to level 1. This can get annoying as you’ll often have to grind to get your Digimon back to where he is. The game boasts over 250 different Digimon to collect and master, which offers a great amount of variety when it comes to building a strong party.
The problem with building a party comes down to the Digivolution mechanic itself. You see, in order to Digivolve your Digimon into the highest forms available, you need to acquire “ABI” points. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong! The only way to acquire said points is by constantly evolving and devolving your Digimon, repeatedly resetting his level back to 1. This makes trying to acquire the more powerful Digimon (Like Chaosmon, Omnimon, and Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, for example) really annoying and time-consuming. I can’t tell you how much time I spent grinding, trying to get Chaosmon. To be fair, most of the more powerful Digimon are only necessary for a hard-mode play-through or doing the extremely difficult DLC quests.
One of the core problems with the gameplay lies not with the repetitious combat or it’s needlessly grind-y Digivolution mechanic. To me, the core problem lies with its difficulty. The game on its normal difficulty is very easy, in my opinion. You will be able to beat most of the bosses (Aside from a few early bosses like Jimiken) very easily. While it is true that there is a hard-mode, it’s very dialed-up in terms of difficulty. Certain bosses can utterly destroy you if you don’t have a good enough party by this point. Worse still, is that New Game Plus doesn’t scale up with your level, on either difficulty. This means you can blow through the early portions of the game with absolute ease with your overpowered Digimon. What makes it more annoying is that on New Game Plus, you can’t skip any of the story segments you’ve already seen, so more often than not you are left sitting through cutscenes.
The game also boasts online multiplayer in the form of “Online Colosseum”. This mode allows you to go online with your selected party of Digimon and fight against other players. Online Colosseum limits the amount of Digimon you can have in your party, as well as disallowing the use of items. However, I still found the online mode to be a bit broken. It felt unbalanced, especially when you go up against a Digimon with high-speed who completely outclasses your party. One example of unbalanced multiplayer came when I went up against a party consisting of a MagnaAngemon and two Knightmons. MagnaAngemon continuously healed his teammates as the two knights obliterated my team with a flurry of one-hit-kill attacks. Worse still, MagnaAngemon never ran out of SP, not even once. Sure, it was probably due to something he had equipped, but it still felt unbalanced. It seems unfair to not be able to use healing items, but using regenerative items is somehow A-OK? Sure, it’s a nitpick but I feel online combat could have been more balanced.
In general, I felt the gameplay was very good. Despite some hiccups with online play as well as some repetitive gameplay here and there, I still had a great time! The game was fun and enjoyable and had me hooked. I felt the need to acquire as many Digimon as possible, even when the grinding got extremely overwhelming. After a while, I started not to mind it as much, especially when the game started handing out items to circumvent excessive grinding. In short, I found the gameplay to be immensely entertaining, despite its problems.
This game looks pretty good, in all honestly! Edges look a bit jagged on my Vita, but it’s not too noticeable at times. Characters are well-designed with different color motifs, which makes them really stand out at times. The Digimon featured in the game have the same designs they had in earlier installments, which adds to the nostalgic feel of this game. Almost every Digimon has special attacks from their respective series, and they are all look and function how they would on the show!
The graphics are pretty nice on their own, as the characters are rendered in fairly good detail. The characters still possess an anime art-style, which really mixes well with the enhanced graphical style. Backgrounds are well-designed, with some areas possessing some pretty trippy environments. The voice-acting for the characters is spot-on, featuring some great Japanese voice-casting. While the voice-acting is really good, it does suffer from a minor problem.
You see, the American locialization for the game was not a smooth process. Certain names and words are mistranslated, leading to awkward situations. One such example is when the characters start referring to Eaters as “Bakemon” halfway through the game. Bakemon are completely related digital entity to the Eaters, which may confuse casual players. The translation is good enough in that it won’t bother you too much, but it is a bit spotty at times. Despite the somewhat-poor translation, I thought the game’s overall visual presentation was very good.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a very fun, yet repetitive game. If you’re a Digimon or JRPG fan, then you will most likely get a lot out of this game. It has many shout-outs to the series as well packing in a ton of fan-favorite Digimon. The gameplay is simplistic, yet it is still fairly fun. The ability to select from so many Digimon allows for a lot of party customization, even if some of the Digimon are annoyingly hard to get. While the unbalanced multiplayer, spotty translation, and awkward Digivolution mechanics are bit of a problem, it still manages to be a solid game. I was thoroughly entertained with this game, which is why I can definitely say that it’s as sweet as syrup. If I had to give this game a score, it would most likely be a 8 or 9 out of 10. In short, this game is a fantastic JRPG and worth you’re time if you are a fan of the Digimon series.