We have to save the Digital World!
The first big Digimon console RPG to hit the West in many years, boasting a large amount of Digimon and good story. Released last year in Japan, the game has had wide praise and been highly anticipated by both RPG and Digimon fans. With over 100 hours of gameplay, plus free DLC coming out sporadically to give more depth, is the game our Digidestined or will it just be a minor character, doomed to obscurity?
Cyber Sleuth has a very interesting premise, in a world of virtual reality that isn’t so far removed from our own, what would happen if hacking programs took on a life of their own? What if the people on the fringes of society with more access to powerful information and the ability to cause mischief via use of evolving and growing virus programs? These abilities are not just clever programming but living creatures in digital form. The game explores several large themes of exploitation and the grey areas between right and wrong in far more detail than I imagined in a Digimon game. It was a much more mature view that some of the television shows which I feel gave it a great depth. It was not simply a gaze into the anime but a brand new entity. It was exciting and there were twists and turns that I didn’t see coming even from a few minutes in the past. The graphics told the story, with most of the dialogue told with in game visuals, the characters tended to stand in front of a background and act out their words which was entertaining at times, especially when the main character sometimes mirrored your expressions of disbelief and/or annoyance. With 20 chapters of varying length and a vast amount of Digimon to actually collect, the game will set its hooks into you with fan favourite Digimon being slightly difficult to catch and the story compelling enough that I wouldn’t mind watching the game in anime form again. (In fact, I played it again.) I enjoyed every moment, the story is layered with secrets and hints toward the end of the game that gives the New Game Plus extra fuel as you try to catch these hints. One of my only complaints was that the game sometimes left certain points hanging where further explanation would have been liked and that the end section of the game seemed to happen too quickly. As you progress through the early parts of the game, there is a lot to do, many avenues to explore but as the game comes to a close, aside from the coliseum and building your Digimon collection, there is very little to do. As with all RPG’s there are quests, and these range from storyline to simple fetch type quests, with you jumping in between worlds to explore the requests made of the slightly famed cyber sleuth. With enough moments that made me almost jump out of my seat, I very quickly found myself playing into the next day, looking for more of the great story.
The combat was a bit of a mixed bag for me, more for personal reasons than anything else. You generally have three in battle Digimon, sometimes a fourth when you have storyline guests, while you have more in the party acting as back up. This is regulated by having a Digimon cost value, you can have upto eleven members in your party but with the cost restricting the larger, stronger Digimon, at first you need to be tactical about which ones you bring and how they will help you fight. With turn-based combat, which I very much enjoy, the game used a couple pf elemental weakness circle alongside the classic Vaccine, Data and Virus types. The only issue I had with it personally was the slightly rotating camera, it doesn’t affect how well the game plays or the aesthetic of the game as you get to see the Digimon from every angle. I just don’t like spinning personally and in a couple of battles, the background rotates as well. One battle, fighting a very fast enemy Digimon while partnered with a very fast guest Digimon taking place in the sky, in particular was incredibly difficult for me to play as it was making me feel very ill and dizzy, it wasn’t easy either but I persevered because I wanted to get to the end. Upon replay on hard mode, I needed someone else to play the battle for me. Aside from that, I was relieved to find some engaging and thrilling turn-based combat as it is not very prevalent in games these days with many RPG’s preferring to use an action based style. The tactics involved are slightly marred with the defense/intelligence piercing attacks which make some encounters a lot easier if you have a powerful Digimon that has a type advantage using a piercing attack. While that can make some encounters almost a non-issue, many of the stronger Digimon have high hp or other ways of negating the buffed damage, but not all of them.
Lastly, about the Digimon themselves as they are an integral part of the experience. You have a pick of three to start with. Palmon, Terriermon and Hagurumon, are on offer comprising a Data, Vaccine and Virus choice. The choice does not impact you seriously, which only a little bit of a shame as you want your decision to impact the game but considering the hindrance to collecting all the characters it might have posed (When I said earlier that some fan-favourites were hard to obtain, I wasn’t kidding and Lucemon requires to the number care so he can be obtained.) that irritation very quickly disappeared. Some of your first experiences with Digimon are fighting the in-training types that evolve into the rookie level. The style captures them all beautifully eliciting aww’s when they bounce on to the screen. With the mechanics of Digivolving in play, you have choices of what Digimon you want your current partner to evolve into, and even choices of what you might light them to de-digivolve into. Digivolving and De-digivolving are an essential mechanic in strengthening your fighters throughout the game through to Champion, Ultimate, Mega and beyond. With the ability to have eleven character with you in the party earning experience, the rest of your Digimon in the lab can be placed in farms so they can train, look for extra cases for the Cyber Sleuth to solve or even helping out in your adventure by creating items for your use. All in all, the farm area of the Cyber Sleuth really gives you a strong mini-game alongside the main narrative that will keep you invested, and sometimes tear you away from your story progress when you are only an hour or so away from getting that Paildramon!