Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a game I, and many others, have been hyped for since its Japanese release back in March of last year. What got me even more excited was the fact that it’s come to Europe, a rare occurrence for Digimon games in previous years. Thankfully the brilliant people at Bandai Namco Entertainment have seen fit to bring it to Europe and I’ve literally had to tear myself away from the game to write this review.
Developed by Media Vision, a first for Digimon games, who are most known for their Wild Arms games, I was slightly hesitant of how they may change existing game mechanics. However, this worry was blown out of the water as soon as I started playing. Building upon the existing mechanics, Media Vision has created a Digimon game far greater than those that have come before, in the western world, anyway. If you’ve already heard of the many comparisons to Persona the game is getting, then you know this is going to be good!
The game opens to a cyber chat room where a few of the residents agree to explore the world of EDEN due to rumours of hackers and viruses known as Digimon, or Digital Monsters. The cyberspace known as EDEN is a virtual consumer-oriented network run by Kamishiro Enterprises. When accessing EDEN, people take on the form of a digital avatar and can roam the spaces available as they would in the real world. When you eventually meet up with your chat room buddies it quickly becomes evident that the existence of Digimon is quite real. To protect yourself you’re given a hacker program called Digimon Capture that allows you to befriend and capture your own Digimon. Unfortunately, you come across a program known as an Eater; as you make your escape from this dangerous program, you think upon logging out of EDEN you have lost your physical form and become a digital entity. Still able to exist within the real world you find help in the form of the Kuremi Detective Agency. With a new, albeit temporary, body you become an assistant detective for the agency and a Cyber Sleuth.
The story is progressed through chapters with each chapter focusing on a case brought to the detective agency that you must solve. There’s not much detective work actually required however and they usually end with a boss battle against another Digimon or hacker. During each chapter, you have the chance to explore the world, be it in Tokyo, with places such as Shinjuku or Shibuya, or in the digital world of EDEN. This is where the game feels like Persona, aside from the visuals, being able to explore different areas talk to people and discover shops and items. You also have other cases that you can fill your time with, each colour-coded by urgency and type of case they are.
EDEN is where you will spend a lot of your time travelling through a variety of different levels fighting Digimon. When you start the game you’re given a choice between three Digimon but whatever you choose doesn’t matter as you will soon have access to a whole lot more, including the ones you didn’t pick. Each time you encounter Digimon in battle you will gain scan data, once this data reaches 100%, although 200% is recommended, you can convert it into your own Digimon. This is where the meat of the game lies; unlike in Pokemon where they follow one specific evolution route, in Digimon, they do not. Each Digimon can evolve into around four new Digimon and so on but with some Digivolutions having different requirements, it can take some time to unlock them. I can’t stress enough how much I love this game mechanic; if you have played any of the Digimon World Nintendo DS games then you’ll be familiar with it. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating but full of depth on a level that Pokemon just doesn’t have and pouring all your effort into getting that really strong Digimon can be so rewarding. Outside of the Digimon in your party, you can employ the service of the Digi-Farm where Digimon can train, create item or investigate new cases. It’s a great way to level up those that you aren’t currently using and can be expanded to hold more; you can also build new Digi-Farms.
Battles are turn-based like previous Digimon World entries and feature the usual turn-order down the right side of the screen allowing you to work out some effective strategies. During battle, you can change Digimon so if you’re against a particularly tough opponent, switch out your current Digimon for one of a superior type to your opponent. Each Digimon has a type such as Vaccine or Virus, with each type being strong or weak against its opposite. Keeping one of each type within your party can be a lifesaver. You can have three Digimon set as your battle party with others set in reserve but the amount you can bring along will depend on their memory usage. The higher the digivolution of a particular Digimon, the higher the memory usage so be careful; of course, memory can be expanded with an item, usually gained after clearing a chapter.
Visually the game feels very similar to that of the Persona series, something I personally love so this is a big bonus in my eyes. While the game was initially developed for PlayStation Vita it definitely looks great on the PlayStation 4. EDEN is just a beautiful place and each time I jump in I wonder what it would be like to actually enter a digital environment like this. The corrupt data styles of some of the dungeon levels look fantastic which makes traversing them a joy. The visuals are not the only Persona similarity as the soundtrack also sounds rather Persona styled which is a plus.