It has taken eight years, but a new Digimon RPG has finally been released outside of Japan. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth released for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita on February 2nd in the US and on the 5th in Europe. Cyber Sleuth was originally released last March in Japan for the PS Vita and is the fifth game in the Digimon Story line of games. After fan requests and various Digimon translation projects, developer Media Vision and publisher Namco Bandai decided to release the game in the west. With a mix of turn based battles, Digimon raising, and a new story, Cyber Sleuth allows players their own digital adventure.
In Cyber Sleuth you play as either a male of female amateur hacker who likes to spend their free time in a digital world called EDEN. Digimon fans might recognize similarities between EDEN and the internet in Our War Games, or even OZ from Summer Wars. In EDEN, you’re meeting up with two friends when a mysterious stranger appears and gives you the ability to befriend Digimon. It isn’t long until you are attacked by an “Eater” which leaves your in a digitized state. Back in the real world detective Kyoko Kuremi recruits you to become her cyber sleuth assistant. It’s up to you to try to uncover the mystery of these eaters and take on plenty of jobs as a cyber sleuth in training. The story is quite in depth and reflects the narrative pattern of the Digimon anime series. There are times in the game that will have you reading plenty of dialogue but for the overall story it never feels like it drags on too long. A lot of the long conversations are usually to the point but some characters tend to ramble on for a while.
You don’t experience too much development as the almost voiceless protagonist, but the characters around you do. There are times where characters might seem tropey, but they never last for too long. Due to this game being a port of the original PS Vita title from Japan, the voice work remains in Japanese despite the text being translated to English. This works for the majority of the game, but from time to time there are issues with the translation. Some side characters in Cyber Sleuth like Mirei are returning from Digimon World: Re:Digitize for the PSP. As these were Japanese only titles, you’ll need to look them up to get their back story.
In Cyber Sleuth, you will be completing jobs from the Detective Agency job board. Located in Kyoko’s office in the Nakano Broadway, you will get a mix of main quests, side quests, and extra quests. This job board is also where DLC quests will appear. The main quests progress the story, side quests teach you about the world or reward you with good items, and the extra quests are either fetch quests or tamer battles. When you accept a quest there is a star difficulty rating, a location, and the request will even tell you what your reward will be. This can be helpful when you only want to take jobs that get you something you need before progressing. These quests can be filed by humans or Digimon so quests might take place in the real world and others might be in EDEN. This means that for some quests you might not even need to use your Digimon, and these ones are normally light on action but heavy on story.
As you travel, you get to have a party of Digimon with you. You have a hard cap of eleven Digimon that can be in your party but there is also a memory limit where the stronger the Digimon is the more memory it takes up. If you only have an available memory of 20, then you’ll have to decide whether you want three Rookie digimon that take up five to eight memory or one Mega Digimon. As you progress and get Memory Upgrades, you will be able to fit more and more Digimon in. As you progress, this memory limit stops you from power leveling your Digimon too much. You’re able to get nearly all the Digimon from the start of the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to use them all.
On these jobs, you will end up in random battles, usually in the digital world. These battles are max three against three and you are able to swap out for any of your eight reserves whenever you feel like it. The battles are fast and each Digimon has their own signature attack and animation so you can see your favorite Digimon use your favorite attacks. There is also a nature and type stat that decides whether your attack will be super effective or not effective at all. These are Data which is strong against Vaccine, which is strong against Virus, which is strong against Data. There is also a neutral type that excludes you from this chain meaning you won’t have a weak typing but you also won’t be able to get a super effective attack.
For all that is good about the battles, there are still some issues. On the right hand side screen during battles, you see the order of the next ten attacks. When you’re in regular dungeons, your Digimon will be much stronger than your opponents a lot of the time, so you’ll be able to hit multiple times before they even get a chance. This leads to you going fight to fight without getting hit once. Not only is the speed stat slightly broken but at times the defence stat is too. There were many cases where you go from one hitting Ultimate level Digimon to wasting three to five attacks on a Rookie Digimon. In the end it was easier to just hit as hard and as fast as possible as opposed to planning any battles for type advantages. At the start of each battle you “scan” the attacking Digimon, this scanning process is the way you can get your own Digimon. Each scan can charge up from 5% to 30% and once a Digimon types scan has reached 100% you are able to Digiconvert them at the Digilab for your own use. You can also let the scan reach a max 200% which will give you a Digimon with higher stats.
The real trick, and a large part of what makes the game fun, is the way you raise your Digimon. In Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, it isn’t just about experience and levels but also about how your stats are looking. Digivolution it isn’t as simple as a linear evolution of Agumon to Greymon to MetalGreymon. Cyber Sleuth has branched Digivolutions, so your Agumon can go to six different Digimon instead of just one. Each Digimon is able to go from level 1 to level 99 and each time they Digivolve or De-Digivolve they are reset to that creature’s base stats. There are stats the level up with your Digimon like HP, SP, ATK, DEF, INT, and SPD. All these stats will become important as you’re trying to decide what path you want to take in your evolution. Do you need 140 ATK and level 60, or are you going to wait to build up for 130 SPD and a level 65? This leaves you organizing which Digimon you want to train up and for what purpose. For those who are afraid that with over 240 Digimon all you’ll be doing is grinding levels there are ways that you can build your team and items that you can equip to boost your EXP.
If you don’t have enough space for a Digimon in your party they live in your Digibank or in Digifarms. The Digibank can store 100 Digimon at the start of the game but like Memory it can be upgraded. In the Digifarm you can store up to 10 Digimon where they gain experience and even earn bonus skill points. This is useful when the natural leveling of your Digimon won’t get you the Digivolution that you want.
When you’re in the farm you have the options to train your Digimon for extra stats, get them to research for a rare item, or just go out and investigate. If your Digimon investigate then they could return with new cases for you or even a random item. Training takes a set amount of time while research and investigation takes less time the more Digimon in your farm.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth look really good on both the PSVita and PlayStation 4, despite it being a Vita game originally. Some of the close up expressions of characters can show jagged edges, but when walking around, battling, and raising your Digimon you won’t notice any of these issues. There are some great approaches taken with the art style that have the characters looking as if they belong in their own anime. The Digimon also look just as impressive as you would expect them to be. This anime style is also adopted the few times where the game has fully animated cutscenes. Locations like EDEN drawing inspiration from worlds like OZ do a fantastic job in connecting to previous works in the Digimon series.
The voice acting in Cyber Sleuth is done to an extremely professional level. Hearing the conversations does a great job of drawing the player in, even if you aren’t able to understand without the subtitles. The soundtrack brings a mix of electronic beats and synth work to give the player a feel of being in a digital world. Some of the tracks get quite repetitive, especially the battle music, but that’s to be expected with the amount of battles you’ll end up in.
Multiplayer in Cyber Sleuth simply consists of ranked battles against others. You will be paired against others with similar party memory sizes and ranking. There is also a memory cap of 150 for participation in online battles so that no one is able to become too powerful. There is no cross play between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita and also no friend battle options so you’re stuck with random fights. Your team memory will be used to find your opponent so if you only have a couple of champions in your team then you don’t need to worry about facing someone with a team full of mega level Digimon. It adds a good level of replay value as you build your team and specialize them for competitive play. Each battle you win you earn points that go to a total, but there is no benefit from reaching higher numbers other than bragging rights.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is currently available for the PlayStation 4 (Physical and Digital) and PlayStation Vita (Digital Only). This game supports cross-saves but sadly it is not a cross-buy compatible title. If you buy the launch edition of the game, you can get access to some extra Digimon such as BlackWarGreymon and MetalGarurumon (Blk).
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on the PlayStation 4
A fun mix of a variety of different game types and a must have for any fans of Digimon. Even if you're not too into it the story is fun and the mechanics are extremely well done.