Monday, May 29, 2017

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (Vita)

Digimon Story:  Cyber Sleuth is based on the anime franchise of the same name and features various Digimons from the various seasons.  As part of the Digimon Story series, it is more of a traditional JRPG with an original story taking place in real-life Tokyo.  The combat system of Cyber Sleuth is nothing special, it is a basic turn-based system with options for Attack, Skills, Change Digimon and using Items.  There is a paper, scissors, rock weakness system but it ends up being unremarkable.  It's functional and interesting enough to keep you going through the game but you wish that there was something to differentiate this from other JRPG games.

The real hook of the game is the ability to collect Digimon (short for Digital Monsters).  These are monsters that live in the digital world, which can digivolve into new Digimon as you level them up.  There are multiple digivolution paths for each Digimon and unlike Pokemon, you can freely go up and down the path which allows a tremendous amount of freedom which is the most addictive part of the game.  Digivolving will require special conditions in relation to that Digimon's stats and you may have to digivolve and de-digivolve multiple times in order to get to your desired Digimon.

Digimon gain levels through experience and they reset to Level 1 every time you digivolve.  Catching Digimon, so to speak, requires you to battle the same Digimon multiple times in dungeons as you scan their data.  The game has random encounters, which may seem unfortunate at first glance but the encounter rate is conservative.  You won't be forced into a battle every two steps, you can run through multiple smaller areas of a dungeon before you end up battling a Digimon.

Furthermore, you get access early on to various abilities which include removing random encounters all together or conversely, forcing one which is a boon for grinding.  Each area is comprised of smaller areas separated by a loading screen.  The loading time is short but since areas are so small, it feels disappointing.  The plot is probably another area where Cyber Sleuth could improve upon since it is fairly bland.  You can either choose a male or female avatar, the male being called Takumi.  In this world, a virtual world called EDEN where a person can create virtual avatars with their full consciousness and dive into the virtual reality.

Due to some malfunctions, Takumi's body become digitalized and ends up joining a detective agency to become a "cyber sleuth", specializing in cases involving the digital world.  The majority of the game takes place in Tokyo and allows you to visit familiar suburbs such as Akihabara and Shinjuku.  The other part of the game takes place within EDEN with a futuristic theme to the design of the dungeons.  One of the more annoying things is that the camera is fixed although the graphics are impressive.

During Takumi's quest to get his body back, he discovers more sinister plans involving the corporation behind EDEN.  Eventually gaining the power to recruit and use Digimon for battles, he tries to find the secrets of EDEN.  The story pacing is uneven with some interesting bits but is padded with more mundane story elements that don't seem to have a place in the larger scheme of things.  Even during the climax of the story, there's nothing surprising.  However, the plot heavily involves the Royal Knights (a group of high ranking Digimon) which is pretty cool.

The heavy nostalgia factor if you have seen the first three seasons of Digimon is what truly makest he game so much more addictive.  While everything is translated to English with some typos here and there, the voiceovers remain in Japanese.  There are 20 story chapters and it takes around 30 to 40 hours to finish the game, so it is a decent length.  Story is mainly told via dialogue with character models showing that they're speaking but occasionally there are CG scenes which look great.

There are plenty of side quests to extend the playtime even more but doing all of them means that there are heaps of backtracking in dungeons across the same maps which can be repetitive.  Plus, there seems to only be the few NPC designs as the game begins to reuse the same NPC designs early on.  The difficulty is set to be really easy early on but the first difficulty spike begins with a boss from Chapter 10.  You may need to end up grinding for a bit to digivolve your Digimon to higher levels before you can attempt to progress.  The high health of later enemies is frustrating since it makes it that much longer to defeat and forces you to end up relying on specific moves that ignore Defense in order to finish battles quicker.

There's not much postgame content, the main features being some superbosses and collecting the remaining Digimon.  There is a colosseum to face waves of Digimon, both offline against the AI and online against other players.  A New Game Plus option is available after finishing but you cannot skip cutscenes at all which makes replaying quite tedious.  Overall, Digimon Story:  Cyber Sleuth is a fun game.  It has an average story and battle system so it is only truly recommended if you at least have some idea and have an interest in Digimon already.


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