Updated: Aug 14, 2022
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Digimon Anime, Digimon Survive presents a brand-new adventure set in a mysterious world with characters designed by Uichi Ukumo, and music by the much-acclaimed Tomoki Miyoshi.
Digimon Survive main screen for Xbox Series X.
When I first received Digimon Survive, I had already read snippets of other people's reviews, but they were all over the place. Some thought the game was a masterpiece, while others thought it was a disaster. So, what is it about Digimon Survive that has the press so divided? Before we begin the review, we will speculate on three reasons why the review scores varied.
Reviewers previously loved the Digimon World series and other Digimon titles.
They went into it not expecting anything and found something to like.
The amount of dialog and repetitive aspects in the game wore them down.
Digimon Survive Game stats:
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment Developer: Hyde Platform: Microsoft Windows – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam, & Xbox One (Reviewed) Release Date: July 29th, 2022 Players: 1 Price: $59.99
The Main Story:
Digimon Survive is the story of eight kids being spirited away while getting lost in the mountains. For those who are familiar with the Digimon series, this story’s focus is reminiscent of the first Digimon season. Each character has their own personality, but none are unique when comparing them to other Digi-destined; in fact, it feels more like the developers decided to take personality traits from the original eight and fused them with another to make this new lineup of eight characters.
The game begins by introducing these eight children and their Digimon companions. The first act introduces the player to the combat mechanics while also fleshing out the main characters and their Digimon partner. Digimon Survive, unlike previous Digimon games and TV series, pulls no punches. Early in the game, the players must confront the concept of death and the fact that everything around them has the potential to kill them. This plays a significant role in the characters' mental states and the overall story throughout the game.
As the players are looking for a way to return home, they meet an organization that is trying to sacrifice the maiden and the children to restore peace to the digital world. As the children try to foil the organization’s plans the characters’ mental state adversely affects their Digimon leading to unforeseen circumstances. The fate of the children and their digital partners are linked ultimately binding them together. As the story progresses, players ultimately find out why popular Digimon terms have been left out of the game.
The end of the game leads to a dramatic battle and results in one of four outcomes. Yes, you read that right. Digimon Survive has four different endings, but only three can be unlocked on the first playthrough. Now let’s dive into the good and bad of Digimon Survive’s gameplay.
Digimon Survive is a twelve-chapter game where each chapter is about the length of one or two movies; this ultimately is dependent on if the player skips the dialog, skips leveling, and rushes the story. For our playthrough, we read through a good majority of the dialog, making each chapter’s length rather long. The dialog in the game is rather wordy and the localization of the game is not always accurate. Based on our Japanese knowledge, we could tell when the translation wasn’t accurate and was changed to fit the localization team’s desire. The character Miu will often say Ni San and the team will translate it to Kaito; yes, Kaito is her brother but that is just one of the easiest changes we noticed.
The game’s chapter length is actually one of its biggest downsides in the game. As we stated before, in the time it takes to complete a chapter, they could have either watched a season of an anime, watched a movie, or something else. In fact, while we were playing through it, each chapter took roughly three hours to complete. During those three hours, at least two of the hours were spent in character dialog menus. The other hours were either recruiting new digital partners, grinding XP, or doing the chapter’s battle.
The game also doesn't clarify how the connections the player forms with each character will impact the gameplay as a whole. The game's ending will vary depending on the player's selections between Moral, Wrathfulness, and Harmony. Unfortunately, if the affinity level is high enough, some characters' deaths can be avoided in the new game+. The affinity also influences whether the Digimon supporting casts will develop an Ultimate or Mega form.
In order to reach the true ending, you must play through it at least two times and save everyone. This task is more difficult than it seems because of how redundant the dialog is in the game. Yes, you can skip through parts, but if a choice comes up and you have skipped through, it can cause problems.
Digimon Survive does a great job giving players a wide variety of Digimon to use in combat. Yes, certain missions will require that you use a specific partner Digimon, but most of the time, the player can choose who they want to use. The only downside to this is that the player must recruit other Digimon from the free battle arena. This is not a requirement to complete the game but gives players a wider variety of monsters to use. In addition to a variety of monsters to recruit, the player can choose which Digivolution to unlock once they have secured the proper evolution item. The evolution trees give the player a wide variety of choices to choose between including some series favorites.
Combat in the game is rather simple. In fact, if you have ever played any turn-based strategy game, Digimon Survive‘s combat will feel rather childish. The game offers four difficulties (Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Hard) for the player to choose between. Even on the hardest difficulty, if properly leveled, the player can easily overcome the challenges. The game’s very easy mode allows players to breeze through combat if they want to focus on the narrative.
Additionally, the game features an auto battler system that makes it so the player doesn’t have to control combat. The only downside to the auto battler system is that it does not equate the benefits of the partners talking to the Digimon when running the battles; this can make the battle longer or more tedious.
The game’s controls are easy enough to use that a child who has no experience could pick up the game and play through it. What is arguably our favorite part of the game is the game’s soundtrack. While playthrough, each area has its own feel. The music’s pace changes when in more intense moments and slows when dealing with sadness or mystery. At times, the soundtrack reminded us of Kingdom Hearts and actually inspired us to push further on.
Finally, although the dialog can be repetitive and at times grueling, the overall story is an enjoyable ride. Yes, you can predict a variety of things that can happen, but when they do, it is a satisfying payoff. Each death you can see coming based on the player’s actions. What is frustrating is that the game forces you to play through a second time just to get the true ending. The developers decided to force certain aspects rather than giving the player a chance to change things on the first run. Does it impact how the characters feel and push along the narrative? Yes, but at the end of the day, it feels more like forcing trauma or using death to make the characters more relatable.
Looking back at our time with Digimon Survive it is easy to see why some reviews did not like the game. The game’s overall wordiness and forced dialog can be mentally and physically exhausting. Additionally, the redundancy of some dialog can be infuriating. But, looking back at those moments, we can see that the game was trying to emphasize certain aspects. Could they have done it more subtly or directly?
Yes, but at the end of the day, those moments were meant to connect the player to the characters and the story more. If you are looking for combat, this is not the game for you. In fact, this is more a Digimon narrative game rather than a tactical strategy game. If you are a fan of the TV series then this game is more up your alley.
With varying combat difficulties, a variety of Digimon choices, an enjoyable soundtrack, and multiple endings, it is easy to see why some enjoyed the game. The Dialog, localization changes, length of chapters, and forced outcomes on the other hand can definitely turn fans away. If you are a diehard fan of the franchise, then this game will be an enjoyable ride; if you are someone whose not followed it along the way, then it is easy to be disappointed. Ultimately, each person will have to decide on their own if they like Digimon Survive.
Personally, despite the sheer amount of dialog and repetitiveness, I enjoyed my time with Digimon Survive and will ultimately go back to see the different endings.
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