A few weeks ago, Chandler and I talked about Digimon on the Knotty Gamers Podcast. Well the game that brought it to our attention, that being our shared love of the Digital Monsters franchise. We even broke down some of the game in a Youtube Let’s Play in a less than stellar manner (I swear I’m going to get a stream right one of these days). After more than 10+ hours and not even scratching a quarter of the story missions, not even including the reported 90+ hours required for the Platinum Trophy, I can give you an honest to goodness review. This is a JRPG.
I repeat, in a manner that can only be reflected in the voice of Jim Ross: BYGAWD! This is a gawddam JRPG! Whether it has a family or has been broken in half, I can not say.
But in the truest fashion, this is a meat and potatoes JRPG at it’s core, which means grinding. And grinding. And grinding. But man is it fun. To make things even more grinding, the Digivolution (the process in how to level your Digimon into new and more powerful forms) resets their level to 1. In addition, the ABI stat increase can only be done after leveling the Digimon, and then De-Digivolving them (which also reverts to Level 1).
However, the simple, accessible, and easy to understand battle system makes the battles go by quickly, with even boss fights taking a short amount of time compared to other JRPGs. The constant desire to level Digimon to get them to their next digivolution, usually means you’re going to have a higher level Digimon than most you face. By the time I encountered my first Champion level boss, I already had two of my own.
The downside of the game doesn’t come from the battle system, the simple, yet complex, leveling and digivolving process. It comes from the story and the side quests. Often times, I spent more time running through the little piece of Shinjuku, Tokyo I was given to explore. Make no mistake, there isn’t much exploration in the real world or the Digital World of EDEN. Your Cyber Sleuthing usually means talking to all the people with “!” insignia above their head, heading into a mini-dungeon, and then fighting a Digimon. While the characters seem like they’d be interesting, they all feel far too 2D, at least in the first four chapters. With more story, I’m sure there is more to delve into, but the interest in the game really lies in building your team, not unremarkable cutscenes. Regardless of the Japanese Dub, which despite being the native language of the models used, often wasn’t synced and I often felt too much Technobabble was used to try and science away the incredible nature of the games events, rather than letting things breathe.
As far as side quests, the inability to handle more than one case at a time, including main story-line feels limiting, but understandable. The frustration during them comes from the inability to get hints or reminders without going to a Digi-Lab access portal to speak with the mysterious Mirei Mikagura who gives you what should have been an option in your menu.
For a $59.99 USD price tag for what is essentially a Vita Port is a little disappointing, especially considering the feature of Cross Saving only can be used if you paid for both the PS Vita version and the PS4 version. I may have a bit of buyers remorse not getting a game that would be no doubt exceptional on the more mobile platform, but I can say I am definitely getting my moneys worth in content. With Free DLC Mission Packs, and a new game already announced for a 2016 Japanese release, it’s no surprise considering the strength of the game.
Verdict: If you’re a fan of Digimon, JRPGs with interesting leveling mechanics, or a just trying to find a game worth the money you put into it, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a game to check out. Knotty Gamers gives Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth 3.9/5 Stars.
UPDATE: After coming up with a review system, this game has now been reviewed and given a score on the Knotty Gamers scale.