Game Review: Digimon Story Cyber Slueth (PS Vita)
13/02/2016 Leave a comment
As the years go by the number of anime-related-videogames released into the western market continues to grow and while Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and One Piece receive a new instalment each year TOEI’s Digimon franchise has always been left in the dark; that is until Bandai Namco Entertainment released Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth onto the PS4 and PS Vita earlier this month.
Sure enough its not your traditional Digimon game but at this moment in time we are not going to be nitpicking; so with this being said does Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth fill the hole in our hearts or does it make it bigger? Well lets find out in our review.
|Title:||Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth|
|Publisher:||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Resolution:||960 x 544
Forget everything you ever knew about Digimon; as while those cute and colourful digital monsters may be aimed at a younger audience this video-game instalment based upon the anime franchise is actually aimed at the older generation. It’s challenging, it’s complex and it offers a varied amount of depth that will actually get your mind working; well a little bit at least.
When it comes to the anime TV series the story of Digimon would see various children, or teenagers if you prefer, transported into the Digital world and given the task of saving it from a deadly foe. In Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth however that concept is no-where to be found and instead gives the perception that Digimon are actually tools used by hackers in order to cause mischief within the world.
It’s an interesting concept; but ironically enough it’s not the story being told here. The story of Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth follows the events of ‘the player’ who, after being blackmailed into visiting a hackers paradise within the online world of EDEN and being attacked by an unknown creature, finds himself separated from his real body. As a result of this predicament ‘the player’ acquires a new ability of connecting to the online world of EDEN through any type of connected digital device as well as being able to hack any piece of equipment within the real and digital worlds. It’s a unique scenario and through the help of Kyoko, a cyber-detective, ‘the player’ becomes her assistant in attempting to unravel the mysteries of the body and the creature that attacked him.
While discovering the truth behind this mysterious event, and finding a solution to those trapped in a coma, is considered the main topic of the story you don’t actually see much from it; as instead players will find themselves taking on Detective Job requests and helping Kyoko with her daily anti-cybercrime tasks. Yet again it’s an interesting concept; but personally it doesn’t feel suited to the type of franchise it should be. Digimon games should be about protecting the digimon world and levelling up characters, just like in Digimon World 3; not being a detective and solving mysteries with the aid of Digimon. Of course, at the same time, that is the beauty of this game – as it tries to be something different and, in most cases, it works exceptionally well.
Naturally as players progress through the game the story begins to unravel a plot that ties big organisations with Digimon; of course i won’t spoil to much here but it’s a story that blends the ideals of Persona 4 and Sword Art Online into a single game. The ability of jumping into an ‘alternate world’ through electrical gadgets (especially a TV) is a direct reference to the Persona 4 franchise and the storyline which sees humans attacked by this mysterious creature in a digital world and turned into a comatose state is another reference to the people that were trapped in Sword Art Online. Ironically enough despite these ‘similarities’ with the games storyline this Digimon title actually manages to stand on its own; and for many different reasons.
For one players are able to freely navigate two different types of gameplay worlds; the real-world and the digital world. Each area offers a different type of aesthetic feel; for instance walking around the real-world gives the impression that you are physically walking round a Japanese city; with its busy streets, high rise buildings and multiple advertisements – most of which have real adverts for games on. The digital world however offers a relatively bare and simplistic feel to it which gives the impression you are in a digital system rather than a virtual world. As you progress however the number of environments will gradually increase; each being styled slightly differently.
Of course the real attraction to Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth is the Digimon characters and its gameplay mechanics; both of which stand-up fairly well against other JPRG of a similar type. Once again it’s easy to compare this Digimon game with Persona 4; as while navigating around the Digital world you will encounter wild digimon that can be battled against. Disappointingly however the encounters weren’t as frequent as i would have liked them to be as on multiple occasions i found myself walking through multiple areas to have not a single encounter. Unlike Pokemon, which back-in-the-day this franchise was often compared to, you cannot capture the Digimon; instead a device known as the Digimon scanner can scan the Digimon and once a scan has been completed you can then create that digimon for you to use.
It’s an interesting take on ‘capturing them all’ but it offers a more ‘luck-based’ mechanic to the system; as Digimon appearences are not only random but varied. In terms of combat mechanics then players can battle in ‘up-to’ 3-verus-3 fights, with additional Digimon (subject to available storage space) being in reserve and interchangeable. As you would expect all traditional combat options are included; such as attack, skill, item and escape. Regular attacks are generic slashes and whips of a tail while skills are the iconic attacks seen in the anime series; for instance by using a skill attack you can make Agumon perform his Pepper Breath attack – albeit without the voice-over. The item option will allow recovery items and such to be used on the Digimon while escape can be used to escape the wild encounter.
It’s extremely simple and effective to use and those familiar with the Pokemon combat mechanics will find themselves easy to adjust to those here. Despite saying this however using a skill attack can be confusing as the player needs to press two buttons together in order to activate the skill sub-menu. For instance in order to attack you simply press X; but in order to use a skill you need to press the right d-pad button and X at the same time – to which another menu will appear with the different attacks available. It’s a relatively long-winded procress for something that should be straight forward; but its still easy to use, it is just more inconvenient than impractical.
As with all JPRG’s levelling-up your characters is important and its no-different here; but interestingly enough it is a bit more complicated than you might be expecting. In a traditional JPRG you would simply start with a Level 1 character and progress forward until you are happy with the results; in Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth however once a Digimon has reached their max level they cannot get any stronger until you Digivolve them. For instance once Koromon reaches level nine he cannot level-up anymore until you Digivolve him into Agumon; but even when you do Digivolve him his level returns to one and his stats will remain the same. It’s an interesting twist to the whole level-up system but at the same time feels relatively pointless as you are constantly battling with level-up restrictions during combat.
Speaking of digivolutions each Digimon has certain criteria that must be met in order to digivolve; and more importantly you can choose which form they digivolve in to. Personally i feel like it breaks the rules set out in the Digimon TV series as i’ve never known a Black Agumon to be able to Digivolve into Growlmon. In any case each Digimon offers a nice selection of evolved forms to choose from; and those not liking the evolved form can simply revert back to the previous form and start all over again. Furthermore if you are finding it difficult to level-up Digimon you can send them to a Digimon farm which will see them level-up by themselves; its a Digimon variation of the daycare center in Pokemon but only this time it’s a lot easier to use.
Unfortunately however despite all of the positive remarks this PS Vita version of Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth is not exactly a perfect game. Occasional frame-rate drops during certain areas, specifically Shinjuki, un-repeatable dialogue and lack of guidance on the mini-map makes this game harder than it should be. It’s nothing game-breaking; but at times you will find yourself wandering around a location looking for a certain building that features a character you need to talk to in order to progress forward. Speaking of dialogue the player (which can be a male or female) never speaks or features any text so we only ever see half of the conversation. It’s basically the little issues that, when put together, make a bigger picture of annoyances; but of course these could all be personal preferences i’ve picked up from other JPRG games, such as Trails of the Cold Steel and Sword Art Online: Lost Song
Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth offers a lot of JPRG content wraped in disguise of a Digimon game; sure enough some elements are taken from Persona, Sword Art Online and Pokemon – as there is even a Digimon database checklist – but it is one of the more mature and engaging digimon games ever released. Sure enough some elements of the story can be potentially long-winded, such as the detective quests, extensive tutorial and un-repeatable dialogue segments, but at its core it is an expansive Digimon game that is most likely the best one released in recent times. My personal favourite however is still Digimon World 3 for the Playstation.
Digimon Story: Cyber Slueth is now available for the PS4 and PS Vita within the UK. The PS4 version is available as a retail disc and digital download while the PS Vita version is only available as a Digital download from the Playstation Network Store.