Digimon has never really been my personal favourite franchise. The limited experience I have with the series is watching one of the original cartoon series when I was quite young, and the fantastic Digimon Rumble Arena. Unfortunately, Digimon World: Next Order doesn’t even come close to being as enjoyable. Plagued by an awful combat system, obtuse controls, and an incredibly lackluster world, even the hardcore Digimon fans will have trouble enjoying this one.
In Digimon World: Next Order, you play as a human who has entered the world of Digimon through a portal, and you are quickly introduced to the Digimon living around you. Machinedramon have gone wild and destroyed the Digimon way of life, so it’s up to you to help rebuild their city and figure out what’s going on. You are granted two Digimon who are your primary fighters that grow as you use them. There are also a number of facilities in the main town to help train your Digimon to become stronger.
Firstly, I wanna talk about the gameplay. Digimon World: Next Order’s gameplay distances itself from the player in a really annoying way. Battling is almost automatic, except that you can give your Digimon commands. These commands are very limited and cost Order Power, a resource you earn in battle by pressing X every few seconds. Just to help you visualise the flow of combat, once you enter a battle, you can usually order both your Digimon to perform an attack, then you have to wait and press X every few seconds while you watch your Digimon fight the enemy. Usually battles don’t last that long, so pressing X and gaining Order Power doesn’t actually make a difference. Because the battle system is very simple, it takes a lot of the skill out of the game, and forces the player to train their Digimon via other means. The real gameplay aspect seems to be the constant training and general care for your Digimon. Most of the time you spend in the game is at the beginning, setting stat buffs for your Digimon while managing their hunger and tiredness. This whole process is a large grind and incredibly tedious, more reminiscent of a mobile game than a PS4 JRPG.
It seems like the focus on taking care of your Digimon would be a lot better if the Digimon themselves were interesting. In something like Pokemon, the monsters you catch have a variety of different moves as well as a description of them, which makes them feel more fleshed out and interesting. At least in this game, the Digimon don’t look very different, and the only real information you get about them is “I’m Hungry.” This isn’t just a problem for your personal Digimon, many of the characters just exist to give you details about what is happening in the world. There’s no substance to it, every Digimon’s identity is tied to how they physically look, and it’s incredibly shallow.
While the game isn’t enjoyable to play, I have to admit that it looks and sounds really nice. While the textures and models aren’t anything that special, it has managed to capture the traditional Digimon look. Not only that, but the music is really good too. Even the voice-acting is pretty good in that hilarious over-the-top anime way. Stylistically it’s really cool, it just lacks a lot of depth.
Digimon World: Next Order isn’t worth your time. No matter if you’ve never heard of Digimon or you’re a die hard fan, you can do better.