We’ve come a long way since the Digidestined and Digital Monster virtual pets (from which the franchise originated) of the 90s, but I didn’t expect a step backwards. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was, to me, a bit of a disappointment considering the powerhouse that the PS4 is.
Unfortunately for Cyber Sleuth, the game seems to be plagued with a whole host of comparisons to the Pokémon franchise. Of course we all know that both are about collecting creatures, but there is enough difference to separate the two. Starting off, you’ll be asked to choose one of three Rookie starter Digimon, Terriermon (Vaccine/Wind), Palmon (Data/Plant), and Hagurumon (Virus/Electric), however, the choice you make goes beyond just what they can Digivolve to. Each Digimon has a Type and an Attribute, deciding how their attacks will pan out. Data Types are 2x effective against Vaccines, Vaccines 2x against Viruses, and Viruses 2x against Data, though the reverse is also true, with Viruses being ½ as effective against Vaccines, and so on. There are also Free Types with no relation to the other three. Attributes are pretty much the same, dealing 1.5 to the next in one of the three cycles, for example Water – Fire – Plant, Electric – Wind – Earth, as well as Light and Dark being effective against each other. Once again, there is also a Neutral type. The battle system is the same as previous titles in the Digimon Story series, though unfortunately it has lessened in depth. In the DS games (of all things), such as Digimon World Dawn, and Digimon World Dusk, the battlefield is split in five, and Skills would target certain panels such as two with one gap in between. Cyber Sleuth discards that for a Pokémon horde style battle with attacks targeting one or multiple enemies, decreasing the level of strategy in the battle system. Unfortunately battles feel easy, and story battles provide an artificial difficulty by beefing up the stats of enemy Digimon contrary to others in the area, which are still easy.
A Digimon’s attributes will only affect normal attacks though, while each skill will display its own attribute. Skills may also inflict a variety of Abnormal Statuses, including the unique Dot, changing Digimon into sprites and disabling their own Skills. Your digital companions may only learn these skills through levelling (which there is a lot of with Rookies), Digivolution, or through DigiConversion. Throughout your encounters with Hackers and roaming Digimon, a scan percentage will increase with every encounter. These will eventually reach 100%, and furthermore 200%, allowing the player to convert scanned data into your very own Digimon, with stat increases for higher percentages. Be careful though, each Digimon will take up memory in either your DigiBank, Party, or DigiFarm, and DigiConversion as well as Digivolution is only available in the DigiLab (jeez, I feel like I’m writing an iApple piece here).
Digivolution is the ability to evolve your monsters (or devolve) to another form. I know you’re probably wondering “Why would anyone devolve their Digimon?” Well, I can tell you there are a multitude of reasons; higher level caps for each Digivolution regardless of Digivolution branch direction, higher stats, and even exploring a whole new Digivolution tree. Many Champion, Ultimate, and Mega Digimon will have multiple prior forms, allowing a player to evolve a Hagurumon (Rookie) to Guardromon (Champion), and then back down to either Dorumon (Rookie) or Black Toy Agumon (Rookie). Of course higher Levels of Digimon are much stronger, but with level and stat restrictions on some Digivolution forms, devolving is a must.
The story follows the player becoming a Hacker (the name for anyone with Digimon), and subsequently a Cyber Detective, being assigned cases both story related and random. Random cases will net you money and items, and will be added through progression or the training of Digimon in the DigiFarm. Oftentimes these cases will be quite boring, running through generic or plain real and digital areas, interacting with one of the only things you’re able to; people, who are quite often uninteresting and don’t have anything valuable to say. When it gets down to it though, the characters and events actually related to the story are fleshed out, and sometimes even humorous. Unfortunately the graphics, while nice, are nothing special, especially with the strange, faint coloured outlines around some figures. At the beginning of the game, landscapes are uninteresting, holding less detail than areas in the DS games, even in HD, and with a lackluster soundtrack to match. It feels very clinical, which makes the gameplay parts of the story feel like chores. The game does eventually claw back a bit of respect with the real and digital worlds colliding, bringing a bit of contrast to the table.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a great way to bring newcomers and veterans alike in for a more casual introduction for Digimon Story games, and is a decent entry in the franchise. Unfortunately, it could have been better.
Clarke’s Suggestions: When taking Digimon out in your party, only three will be put in the front lines and be able to attack. So when choosing which one to Digivolve, check beforehand, as some Digivolutions will have a COM% restriction. COM or Comradery builds up over time spent in battle, and also contributes to how often combo attacks will occur. Thankfully, EXP is earnt by the whole party, regardless of whether they fought or not. For those looking for a more fulfilling challenge, or more fun in general, seek out Digimon World DS, and Digimon Dusk or Dawn.