So you’re probably wondering, NicheGamer where is your Digimon Survive review? We’ve seen Killerkdemons post that he is streaming it as part of a review, so where is it? Well, the answer to that question is…..right here. As you know, we typically review games before their official release or slightly after; however, Digimon Survive is a special circumstance. For this review, Tyler and I both tried our hand at the latest Digimon game and something felt slightly off.
Tyler thought that the core of the game was almost solid, with the narrative being almost interesting. However, he also believes that the combat system, as well as the pacing of the story, stopped him from ever really feeling engaged.
When I first received Digimon Survive, I had already read snippets of reviews that others had put out there but they were all over the place. Some stated the game was a masterpiece, others called it a disaster. So what about Digimon Survive could make members of the press so divided? Before we dive into the review, we will make three speculations of 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 Header
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: Microsoft Windows – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam, & Xbox One (Reviewed)
Release Date: July 29th, 2022
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 starts off by introducing these eight children and their Digimon partners. The beginning introduces the player to the combat mechanics while flushing out the main characters and their partner Digimon. Unlike prior Digimon games and TV series, Digimon Survive holds back no punches. Early into the game, the players have to deal with the concept of death and that everything around them could kill them and is potentially trying to. Throughout the game, this plays a major factor in the characters’ mental state and the overarching story.
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.
Additionally, the game does not explain how the relationships the player makes with each character will affect the overall gameplay. The choices the player makes between Moral, Wrathfulness, and Harmony will change the ending of the game. Annoyingly, Some characters’ deaths can be prevented in the new game+ if the affinity level is high enough. Additionally, the affinity determines if the supporting casts of Digimon will obtain 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.