It’s time for the big, hyped return to the Digimon franchise! I’ve been waiting for Digimon to make its return to the big screen for quite a while at this point. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the Digimon World series is my favorite from what I’ve heard. The idea of growing and raising Digimon just doesn’t strike my fancy. That being said, World 4 was pretty hype so surely this would be hype as well right? Unfortunately, it is the worst Digimon game so far. It has its moments, but the overall gameplay mechanics are just bad.
Lets start from the top since there is definitely a lot to discuss at this point. The plot is about a kid who finds himself in the Digi world for some reason. The actual reason isn’t important and the game doesn’t really address it either. “Stuff happens” is the best explanation really and it’s all because the kid entered a Digi tournament and came in the top 5. The other contestants also made it to the Digi World, but it seems like the top ranked fighter is evil. The other top fighter might also be a traitor. Luckily, Terry (That’s what I called the main character anyway) still has two other friends to help him out. The problem is that one of them is always bragging about herself and the other guy has self confidence issues. Terry basically has to defend the world on his own. To do that, we need to find a lot of Digimon and force them to move to our town. After we’re confident enough, then we can head for the villain stronghold.
Here’s where the problems start off. The actual gameplay revolves around you walking through various habitats and recruiting Digimon. Some of them will join you instantly while others will have you find sticks and stones, or other materials. Others will have you fight them, but most will just tell you to back off and you have to wait until you’re progressed further in the game. The kicker is that you can’t progress further without getting more Digimon so you’ll spend a good amount of time just looking around. The exploration is big in this game like with Legend of Zelda. The problem is that you can’t actually take your time since you have Digimon partners.
The game really tries its best to make the Digimon like realistic kids, but they went too far. They can’t go 5 minutes without yelling at you to bring them food, take them to a toilet, or that they want to go to sleep. If you don’t have the items on hand, then they’ll refuse to fight in order to spite you or they’ll get sick. Once they get sick, you have to spend a bunch of money to make them better again and that’s only if the Hospital is open. You probably won’t get that for the first 20+ hours though so good luck until then. Another issue is that your Digimon are constantly dying all of the time which reverts all of their stats back and you have to train them from the beginning. The whole system is made to be as aggravating as possible.
Now, I think the intent of this game was to feel like Shantae or Breath of the Wild. Everything is difficult at first, but as you progress through the game it feels a lot better since you have upgrades which are effectively quality of life upgrades to the game. The problem is that the whole Digimon death system works against that to a solid extent. While you can get upgrades later on that extent their life a bit and help them regain some stats through each reincarnation, you’ll still have to waste hours in the gym powering them up. The gym is as tedious as you’d expect since it is just about mashing the X button. You also can’t train for very long before your Digimon get tired and take a break, get hungry, or get sleepy. You have to listen to them since you need their Digibond for EXE fusion.
Did I mention that this game does a terrible job of explaining everything? I learned about most of the techniques and tricks online. The game never even tells you about EXE fusion. I’m sure an NPC mentions it somewhere, but I never ran across it. Without EXE, beating the game would be really difficult. It is only possible when you have maxed out your bonds with both of your partners, have 1 Mega, and both have 150 Order Points. It basically makes you invincible. Granted, I only got to use it once, but it was awesome. For the final boss, I just spent a whole generation fishing until I had 3 million bucks and then I did the gym and bought food at the Restaurant for 10 days. By that time, the final boss went down without even putting up a struggle so I didn’t need to bother with EXE. It was a glaring change from how tough the rest of the game was.
Once you’re in combat, you have to watch as your Digimon try and attack. You can give them orders to attack or block which helps, but they don’t listen to you if they don’t feel like it. Also, they may obey your order once they’re out of range so the attack will miss or they’ll block, but let it go before the attack lands. I definitely prefer to control the Digimon myself or to at least have a proper turn based system instead. The gameplay is absolutely not my cup of tea. To be clear, it’s not bad though, it just could be a whole lot better. The game could have easily gotten a 7 in spite of it had the rest of the game been good.
The problem is that it isn’t. I can’t stress enough just how bad the Digimon death system is. It gets incredibly tedious during the early part of the game. You’ll also have to just let the Digimon die sometimes because you know that they won’t get strong enough in the end. At least one good thing is that your Tamer upgrades are permanent since he never dies. His EXP is based on how far you walk and for how long you stayed out. The best EXP trick is to then just walk in circles over and over again and you’ll be getting level ups in no time. It’s cheesy and feels cheesy as well, but you can’t deny the results.
Also, make sure that you pick the easy difficulty setting. It doesn’t actually affect the enemy strength or anything. The only real change is that training in the gym is a lot quicker so Normal mode is literally just in existence to make the game more of a grind. I don’t see any reason to ever even consider playing that mode. As it is you’ll be grinding a lot for materials, training, and just general walking around. This review’s been pretty negative since I want to make sure you understand what’s limiting the game. It’s hard to really do it justice even now as you have to play the game to really understand. Now let’s talk about the positives.
The graphics are decently good. They’re not quite PS4 level, but they don’t look bad either. I’m guessing they just couldn’t make the graphics look too good because of how many character models are in the game or something. Either way, they suffice. The levels all look pretty clear and the character designs are good. The soundtrack is okay. Cyber Sleuth certainly spoiled me on that, but it goes well enough with the scenes. I would have liked one hype lyrical song, but maybe for next time.
I do have to say that the plot ends in one of the worst ways possible. It always felt like the story was just something added so it could have one, but wasn’t the main focus. There’s not much to it, but there was always that feeling in the back of your mind that something hype was gonna happen. After all, most RPGs take a while to really get going. The problem here is that there’s no payoff. The final twists with the main villain don’t make any sense and actually just hurt the character. I didn’t want a sympathetic villain, I just wanted a tough one! It just eliminated the hype. The post story boss was pretty fun though. I wasn’t initially planning to do any of the post game stories, but my Digimon were so overpowered at the end that I couldn’t resist. I went and fought Diaboromon along with quite a few bonus quests to help out the stat sheet at the end.
That’s actually where the game comes full circle and I have to admit that it can be addicting. It’s strange since on the surface, it sounds like the game wasn’t all that good right? Maybe it’s just one of those “Time sink” issues but I did grow attached to it by the end. The beginning of the game was very brutal. Nothing’s worse than playing for an hour or two and not really accomplishing. On the other hand, once you do start to accomplish in the game, you don’t want to start. How I see it, the game really gets going once you are near the end of the game. That may seem to be a bit late, but from there on, the game works quite well. The quality of life improvements are just that massive. Your Digimon will finally get stronger at a rapid pace and you will be able to keep them alive for a very long time due to the new partners that you can recruit. The whole thing is time consuming and the game never stops being a grindfest but you can’t help but want to play the game again. I even briefly entertained the thought of getting the Platinum here. My Digimon are certainly strong enough now and I just need to keep extending their lives and they’ll live forever. Still, it’s not something that I’d be doing anytime soon, it would just take too long.
Overall, This is one of those games where you have to be prepared to invest a whole lot of time into it. You won’t be completing this game in under 40 hours or at least it’s not very likely. Of those 40+ hours, probably around 10 will be on the story and the rest will be side quests and grinding. You’ll want to keep completing the side quests though because every Digimon that you recruit has a unique ability and helps your city become a better place. Furthermore, you can’t beat the game without getting your town’s reputation to 100+. Each Digimon that you recruit gives you an extra 2-3 reputation. There’s enough replay value here to last you around 80+ hours as well so it’s certainly worth the money. Know what you’re getting yourself into and you’ll enjoy the game more. The final half and the post game segment isn’t enough for me to give the game a positive score, but it’s certainly a very deep game. I could play it for 20 more hours and still not quite understand all of the mechanics. You’ll have to tear yourself away at the end if you can survive the first 30 hours. I’d recommend just playing Cyber Sleuth if you want a game that’s dynamite from start to finish.