Review by DudeVampiresTho
Decent Shonen JRPG, good for Digimon fans, don't try to 100% complete
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth is a fairly standard turn based JRPG that's a bit heavy on the Shonen elements. It isn't very difficult, even on hard mode, if you decide to grind. The visuals can be alright, but there are a few big problems. Voice acting for things that are part of the "Main Quest", in Japanese only, which is better than nothing. A wide array of Digimon to look through and collect. Plenty of sidequests to dig your teeth into.
However it's important to note, you won't be adventuring in the Digital World. You're in Japan.
If you're a fan of JRPGs or Digimon, I would recommend it. However, playing this game will definitely put one word into your mind when thinking about the technical aspects: LAZY.
Between this game and the DS games Digimon Story Dusk/Dawn, I would pick the later. Both involve a lot of grinding, but Dusk and Dawn are so much more diverse and more life filled that the only thing annoying about them is the encounter rate of battles.
Plot Stuff (No spoilers)
It's a very generic Shonen plot. If you're at all familiar with that type of story then you'll pretty much know exactly how things are going to go. This definitely isn't breaking any new ground or exploring any particularly interesting ideas, but it's passable. Wouldn't say there were any plot elements that wanted me to bang my head against the wall, and it's a sort of story line you'd expect from Digimon. The ending gets fairly... strange, before it ends the way you expected it to end.
Simple turn based combat for battles, with absolutely no variation to that. Each side of the field has up to 3 active digimon at a time. The player can also utilize 8 reserve slots for a maximum party of 11 digimon. There is a Memory constraint however. Each digimon has a different amount of memory it takes up, and the stronger the digimon the more memory consumption. Leveling up doesn't increase this cost, but digivolving does. This prevents the player from grinding until they have a full party of the highest ranking digimon right off the bat. Players can earn more memory by completing quests and sidequests, as well as finding upgrades while out exploring. When you're not battling, you're walking around with your Active Digimon following right behind you while wishing there was some form of faster movement in the game. You've got the option to steamroll through the Main Story, or you can screw around indefinitely: do some sidequests, grind for levels, etc.
Digimon Collection and Digimon Farm
In this game, there is a total of 240 digimon. It's possible to get almost all of them fairly early, but there are a couple hoops one has to jump through before getting them all. All digimon evolution lines are linked at some point, it seems, so you can basically make any digimon you want as long as you consult the "Field Guide", which has all the information on evolution lines, a description of each digimon, what attacks they'll learn, and how their stats will grow as you level them up.
In addition to that, you have the Digimon Farm. Within the digimon farm, you can order the digimon you've put in there to do a couple things. Train them (to a limited extent), pay them to make items for you, or look to find some generic bonus sidequest.
This is, however, a bit of a sad thing. All of these actions work based of a timer. As in real time. You can wait upwards of an hour or more of real time to complete any of these processes. Of course you're not required to stay in the farm staring at them, so you're free to do story related missions or side quests or whatever.
Sure, it's nice to sit back and let them take care of it, but I'm going to need to make a comparison to Digimon Story Dusk/Dawn to get across why this system isn't great. In Dusk and Dawn, you could edit your Digimon farms. You could change the looks, you could talk to each of your digimon, you could get personal quests from your digimon, train them at your own pace, and even change the music. However that's all been boiled down and removed in favor of this. All farm islands look exactly the same. There is no option to change their looks. You can, like in the DS games, install Farm Goods that have an effect on the farm island in some way. There is no option to directly talk with your digimon, the replacement being a very basic and boring "DigiLine" instant messager where they send you trivia or mention something, then you have a chance to reply to them with only one option, and after replying they don't talk back. It's very unpersonalized compared to how it was in the DS game. Even the DS game had copy-paste texts for the digimon, based on their personality, but they had a lot of stuff to talk about. They can even talk about the other digimon living on the same farm. I cannot stress how barren and soulless the Digimon Farm is in this game.
Visuals + Level Design
I would say this game is, again, passable in terms of visuals. In fact, some of the dungeons have an interesting design that doesn't really make sense when looked at without some knowledge about the Digital World. There are, however, some very distracting and annoying things about it. The Real World is based on Japan, and looks like Japan, but there is a very small number of locations, and even then each location can range from almost medium sized to like 2-feet wide.There is one map that's literally 2 long hallways with blockades on each path. It is maddening, and you go there multiple times just to go to the very end of it. When you're in Cyber Space, everything is incredibly empty and void. There are no interesting set pieces and the maps are incredibly basic. It can get especially dull. Everything looks fairly clean for the most part, so if level design was a bit more worked on it wouldn't be so bad. The real problem comes in when you see how recycled and basic the Cyber set pieces are. I'm not joking when I say there are about 4 types of areas. It gets so samey that it's almost infuriating.
Not only that, but there are a minuscule amount of generic NPC models. "What? Why would you ever talk about NPC diversity?" Because it's that distracting. They recycle NPC models so many times for everything. Sure each of the digimons' models look fine, but I want to say there are under 10 generic NPC models throughout the whole game.
It's just this combination of these things that make me so annoyed because they feel incredibly lazy. Honestly it almost feels like it's fanmade! With the amount of reusing I wouldn't be surprised if the levels came from someone's first attempt at making a level. That may not sound so bad to you, but after playing through the game it might grate on you just the same.
Now, in Digimon Dusk/Dawn, you were able to explore the Digital World. Each level had it's own theme, and you'd be able to recognize each one. Sure they reused human sprites a lot in small dialog boxes and in the overworld, but the sprite detail is fine since you normally don't have to talk to human NPCs a lot, and each one that has a name has their own unique sprite. In this game, the same NPC models are everywhere. They are bystanders on the street, they're shopkeepers, they're clients for your sidequests, they're intertwined into the main quest, they're everywhere. Not everyone who's important to the story or who even makes multiple appearances gets their own unique look. The only difference between them is maybe a color swap, and that's all.
I do want to point out that each Digimon has a signature attack(Aside from the baby digimon), and that these attacks have their own unique animations. That definitely takes up a lot of time to make, so points for good effort there. Points for making the main character's designs fairly unique as well.
Music is alright. I don't remember any of it aside from 2 songs that don't even play all that much, as the rest aren't really... Music. They are, but they're so bland and forgettable there's no point in really talking about them. Voice acting is just fine though. If you're alright with listening to Japanese, that is. None of the performances are bad in their delivery, so that's a plus.
Substantial amount of increased health and damage for enemies, and in return you get more money (not a lot more to be honest) and an increased item drop rate.
You can switch between Normal and Hard mode at any time.
There are definitely a few points where Hard mode can be not just hard, but unfair and anger inducing. It's not a challenging hard, it's cheap hard. Once you get over the first hurdle, random encounters in Hard won't be so bad, but boss battles will definitely come to beat you to the ground even if you've got the strongest team you can.
To be clear, you do not get ANY bonuses for playing on Hard mode otherwise. If you find yourself to be over-leveled from grinding then it might be best to turn it on so you don't get bored.
Why you REALLY shouldn't try and 100%
I've poured more than 100 hours into this game. I explored every digivolution path I could. Beat (almost) every sidequest. Maxed out all my Digifarms to total capacity. Reached Top Cyber Sleuth. Beat the main story. I had a full party (11 total) of Level 99 (highest) Mega/Ultra Digimon, and yet even after switching it back to normal mode, there are fights that are just so cruel and unfair that it just isn't worth it.
There is a single fight in particular that will crush your soul if you didn't make the absolute necessary preparations. That fight alone demotivated me to the point that I was broken. All of my time and effort I put in felt worthless because of this fight. The DLC fight against Lucemon. It is one of the cheapest things I've ever seen. It gets me so upset just thinking about it. To put this in perspective: He can inflict all of your party with status effects constantly, he has incredibly high power and health, so even with the best of the best teams you'll crumble. He's got 3 forms, and the last is prone to inflicting Instant Death and Panic(Where you'll lose control of your digimon and they'll randomly attack someone, including your own party). It's just the absolute worst. For your own sake, don't go into this game with the goal of 100% in mind.
With the amount of lazy design overall, and in that fight alone, I felt so incredibly angry. Spare yourself the anguish.
Also Online Battles
I've done two online battles. Both times I had difficulty connecting even though my internet connection is perfectly stable, and the times I did connect, it was against COMs instead of players. I don't understand the system myself, but it definitely isn't a one on one battle with a real person. You can't even challenge someone directly, all there are is ranked battles.
If you like Digimon, get this when it's cheap. It can be light-hearted fun if you don't take it too seriously. Never 100% unless you want to subject yourself with what feels like a waste of time.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (US, 02/02/16)
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