REVIEW: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

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Title Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
Developer Media Vision
Publisher Bandai Namco
Release Date February 2, 2016
Genre Role-Playing
Platform PS4, Vita
Age Rating T – Teen
Official Website

As an old fan Digimon, seeing Digimon World Digitize and its re-release on 3DS Re:Digitize never getting an official localization had me a bit depressed since I felt it could have re-introduced me to a franchise I once loved. With Digimon World Dawn/Dusk being the last of the ‘Story’ series and Championship being the last game in the franchise localized in general, it seems the series just simply withered away here. That is, until Amazon Canada had the listing for the game, and finally after 8 years of no Digimon games, Cyber Sleuth was announced for the West to be released in Early 2016. Now that its hit our shores, how does Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth stack up against its predecessors?

The game begins with three of our main protagonists, Arata, Nokia, and our silent one who could be either a Male or Female, after being goaded by a supposed hacker in their usual chatroom. With the threat of being hacked they travel to the darkest depths of the virtual world of Eden known as Kowloon to obtain a prize. When they do, they’re greeted by the hacker who forcibly gives them a program titled Digimon Capture. Arata decides it would be a good chance to find the supposed ghost in Kowloon after catching a glimpse of its presence. Nokia having had enough decides to leave but realizes they’re all trapped by a firewall. Having no other choice, our MC decides to go deeper in. After running into the mysterious Yuugo, who gives the MC their first Digimon, and catching up with Arata, the two then are attacked by a being known as an Eater. Leaving you in a half cyber/half human state in the real world, our MC is found and recruited by Kyouko, a local detective who takes just about any case she is given and thus our story begins.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth | Yuugo's gift to you, choose wisely.

As far as plot goes, I will just say it bluntly — I hated it. It was painfully slow in the beginning and even when it gets a little more interesting halfway through  as we get to the Digimon side of things outside of human drama, it wasn’t enough to alleviate it. This was because of too much usage of amnesia as a convenient plot device, obvious twists, and me being just tired of the Royal Knights once again being a major antagonist — don’t get me wrong I like that they’re all present, but its just stale. Besides two of them, their arc wasn’t particularly interesting nor memorable, some just come and go with the drop of the hat without having build up. Speaking of characters, I might as well comment on the MC. I didn’t like the character either and I’m usually more forgiving of silent protagonists, but this one is quite weak and comes off as a pushover for most of the dialogue.

Others thankfully fare better but are still mixed, like Nokia who starts off as loud, obnoxious, and a comical coward. She gets some decent character development while still retaining some of her quirks. Arata starts off fine but does this awkward turn that was obviously being foreshadowed, yet handled so poorly it made him come across as a horrible person unintentionally instead of the redeemable friend that his character arc should exhibit. Kyouko has this annoying gimmick of constantly referring to her awful coffee brew and spouting exposition to the point where the developers became self aware. She shuts herself up after the 4th interruption in a chapter before and after heading towards a dungeon. Anime caricatures aside, I can also say the sidequests for the most part range from funny, to some being borderline creepy and morbid stuff, which I will give the game points for, as it doesn’t pull any punches. So it added some much needed flavor in transitioning between the story tasks that ultimately left me unsatisfied.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth | The Battle System In Action

The game’s combat is a standard turn-based system with the turns shown on the left side of the screen with giving commands to your Digimon. Each Digimon is categorized with types; Data, Vaccine, Virus, and Neutral — with each having a strength or weakness over the other. This is in addition to elements like Fire, Water and Ground. For example having a Data type Digimon attack a Virus type can increase the damage multiplier with the elements increasing it further with the same rule applying. There is also a combo gauge that increases with either a skill, item, or having an equipment that increases it for that specific Digimon equipping it. This allows that Digimon to pull off a Xros Crossover which if you combine with the above can destroy your opponents with ease. There’s not much else to say when it comes to the combat system as its very simple with very little depth, but that’s not to say that its entirely a bad thing. However, I can’t say the same of the various dungeons you come across through the story and sidequests as they’re not only overly minimalist in design, they are over far too quickly with little variety to distinguish many of them from each other. On top of that, you will at times be forced to go repeat them a number of times and some are clearly recycled.

But of course like all Digimon titles, the meat of the games are building up the creatures to various upgraded forms or completely different creatures all together, and here lies the strength of the game. Like I mentioned earlier you start off with one Digimon, but as you battle, you scan enemies which then allows you to convert them from Data to a form and then you’re allowed to use them as you see fit. Leveling them up will give them access to higher forms which are categorized as Children, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, Mega, and Armor — with a few even higher level beyond Mega. The above options and more become available to you when Mirei’s DigiLab opens up, which is conveniently next to Kyouko’s agency and in terminals found across the game. You’re given a copious amount of tools to improve on your Digimon or use their strengths to help out in your adventure. Some examples are the ability to revisit old dungeons, scanning data to convert Digimon you may have missed, utilizing farms to improve stats, develop rare items and more.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth | The DigiLab, many hours I've spent here

Though at times there will be prerequisites that will block your way in Digivoling, like the max level being a little higher, or their stats needing a few more points. You can  increase the Ability percentage which you gain for each Digimon via De-Digivolving and Digivolving them a number of times. Most Digimon in the Champion and Ultimate category can be gained quite easily by doing this process a few times. There are exceptions that require a bit more finesse, especially when tackling Armor, DNA, and Megas. To obtain more of the stronger Digimon in the game, it will require them to train at the farm and increase/maximize on or two stats. This is important as even leveling up to 99 may not be enough and it’s a great way to make powerful Digimon even stronger to tackle those end game tasks; besides allowing them to carry over skills from past forms to really up their arsenal. That also includes the camaraderie percentage each Digimon has, which is also at times a requirement you can increase by using them in battle or feeding them in the farm. Here lies the heavy grinding aspect, as even if you’re not into making all 230 or so, its a good idea to keep powering and updating your roster to face the challenges that await you.

Outside of selectable dialogue choices which for the most part don’t change anything but some responses, you also have the DigiLine which allows you to read emails from various NPCs and Digimon that hang out in your farm. While mostly fluff for story purposes and to flesh out some characters, the DigiLine also notifies you when progress is complete on developing items, searching out tasks and when someone hits max level etc. You also get trivia questions from your Digimon periodically and when answered right, their camaraderie percentage rises, so it acts as another way to raise it besides bringing them to battle or using expensive and rare items.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth | Because of the state of your body, jumping through access pointsis possible

For version differences, I honestly don’t see much besides load times being slightly faster and you getting to play on a bigger screen; though you will have to go into the PS4 System Settings to open the option for full screen, which is odd since it usually does it automatically. Another thing I found odd was the lack of a proper soft reset or at least an option to go back to the main start up screen. While having to close the application and load back up is quick, there really should have been an option. The graphics are fine with the characters and Digimon looking wonderfully rendered, making good use of the Vita hardware. The localization is a whole different story, simply put, its just terrible. They either went too literal so dialogue doesn’t mesh well or at times doesn’t look like its in context. There are sentences that go across the entire screen, some dialogue selections have errors with the first choice running on to the first and third choices so you miss out on they actual dialogue, some names were switched around or names of attacks were altered even though the description says the original name. Musically, besides three tracks, the soundtrack was quite unremarkable, which is a little disappointing considering the last entries were far better in this department.

After nearly collecting every Digimon and every medal with a playtime of about 90 hours, I can say I enjoyed my time with the game in small busts. I suggest playing on Hard if you’re looking for more of a challenge as Normal was a bit too easy. Even the superbosses barely put up a fight as I never found a need to use buffs or debuffs. While the process of obtaining the various Digimon can be a time sink, it’s easily the best part of the game and the part I had the most fun with. Sure I would have preferred more variety in the selection, but the number in the game its satisfactory. The game plays it safe with its combat system, but its serviceable and is great when you get to use your powered up beasts to destroy your enemies. Its story is lackluster and the characters just have too many issues. As it stands, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a decent effort and I’m glad we got to experience it along with the Japanese audience for its 15th anniversary. I hope the developers learned from this and will make the next game an even better one. Despite its issues, I recommend it to Digimon fans who have been waiting quite some time for another title. For those new to the franchise though, I say wait for a price drop.

Review Score

Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

About David Fernandes

(Community Manager) David is an assistant admin and community manager at oprainfall. He joined the Operation Rainfall Campaign at the beginning, and became one of the staff as the first wave of new volunteers were needed back in mid June. He is an avid video game collector, and lover of most game genres. David spends much of his time in a futile effort in clearing out his ever growing video game backlog.