You’ll want to digi-solve this crime

Digimon Story Review Screenshot

HIGH Experiments with all the digievolution options

LOW Boring characters,

WTF Why is Nokia so annoying?

When I had heard people talking about a new Digimon title being released, I couldn’t believe it. That’s because (for me at least) Digimon stopped being cool after the second season of the TV show back in 2000. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth caught me completely off-guard with how enjoyable it was, despite suffering from the occasional JRPG trope. I guess digital monsters might still be cool after all.

Digimon began in 1997 as a kind of Tamagotchi handheld. Later in 1999, Digimon expanded via an anime show and video game.

In a nutshell, Digimon are ‘digital’ creatures that exist on a different plane with various abilities, like breathing fire or opening gateways to other dimensions. Like Pokémon, these creatures can evolve to become stronger or de-volve to return to their previous state. Found inside technology, these creatures can interact with the real world and engage in human conversation—they say more than just repeating their own names.

Players can choose between three starter Digimon: Palmon, Terriermon and Hagurumon. From here, they can start to explore the digital world with a ‘Digimon Capture Device’ or Digi-vice for short. Battles occur randomly, which could upset some people due to its oldschool nature. Personally, I found the frequency of battles to be fair, without having to fight too often.

The combat system is extremely straightforward; turn-based with barely any difficulty in learning the ropes. The main thing to keep in mind is the rock-paper-scissors foundation of the combat. There are three main types of Digimon classified as Virus, Data, and Vaccine, and each type trumps another. The exception to this rule is a fourth ‘Free’ type, which has no relation to the others.

In addition to the type of Digimon, players should pay attention to their elemental attributes as well—it’s smart to attack a plant Digimon with a fire move, and so on. Combining the right kind of attribute and type together results in dealing massive damage.

As players progress, it becomes apparent that having an army of different Digimon will be needed for success, and luckily, recruiting vast numbers of Digimon turns out to be quite easy. Instead of throwing balls to capture creatures, players ‘scan’ a wild Digimon during combat. Once the Digi-vice maxes out at 100% for a particular creature, players can then go to the Digi Lab and hatch an egg containing the Digimon. The Digi Lab is also used for training Digimon on a farm to increase their stats and managing the hundreds of available creatures.

For anyone familiar with Mamoru Hosoda’s work, Cyber Sleuth should strike the right chords. Hosoda acted as director for Digimon Movie and Summer Wars, which felt a whole lot like Digimon with its digital monsters/avatars scheme. The colorful artwork on display here pushes its anime vibe in the right direction, and the characters’ designs look great thanks to Suzuhito Yasuda, a Japanese manga artist who’s worked on titles such as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor and more.

Unfortunately, despite how cool they look, the actual characters aren’t the slightest bit interesting, which drags the story down and results in a plot that’s hard to enjoy. The semi-silent protagonist is one of the biggest issues. The vast majority of the dialogue choices have no bearing on what happens within a conversation. Fortunately, the gameplay is more fascinating than the writing.

Outside of the main campaign, Cyber Sleuth does include a multiplayer component where players can battle against others, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on this content—whenever I was able to find a match online, it was always against someone who was a god at the game. It was a waste of time since I wasn’t able to devote my life to raising these virtual creatures, so I stuck with the single player experience.

Cyber Sleuth doesn’t reinvent the JRPG that comprises its core, but for a Digimon title, this is a solid step in the right direction. I never imagined the franchise would be remotely relevant again, but this will be a great time for those who have fond memories of these creatures, or for those players who would like something with a little less Pikachu. Rating 7 out of 10

Disclosures: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuthwas obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PlayStation 4. Approximately 47 hours were devoted to the single player mode, and the game was completed. 1 hour was spent in multiplayer

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains fantasy violence, mild language, and suggestive themes. There’s no reason I can think of as to why kids shouldn’t be allowed to play this. Digimon is kid-friendly with cute creatures and a gung-ho attitude. Three of the female characters do display some levels of skin, but it’s nothing troublesome. There’s nothing in this game to sound parental alarms.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: There are subtitles for the story mode, so gamers suffering from hearing loss should be able to follow along with what’s happening. Most of the game is voiced by Japanese VAs.

Remappable Controls: This game doesn’t offer remappable controls.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Marcus Lawrence
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