‘Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth’ Review: Well Worth The Wait

digimon cyber sleuth box art
The box art for 'Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth' Bandai Namco

One of the more compelling aspects of the Digimon franchise is that it is pretty loose with its continuity and its story formula. From the anime to the different games in the history of the franchise, the story and environment is forever changing.

And that’s definitely the case with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth . The story is new enough for those who are not familiar with the franchise but still has the core aspects for the die-hards. And with a battle and training system begging to be explored, Cyber Sleuth had a lot of hype after its release in Japan almost a year ago. the game from Media Vision and Bandai Namco has finally made its way overseas.

But was Cyber Sleuth worth the wait? Let’s dive in.

STORY

Fans of the Digimon franchise will recognize a lot of the plot threads in Cyber Sleuth. Without getting into too much spoiler territory, your hero will have to deal with hackers and a world where the Digital World is a place that can be visited as easily as logging into an online chat room.

But what’s interesting about Cyber Sleuth is how Digimon are looked down on by many of the people. Digimon are seen as tools for hackers to hack into accounts and cause all sorts of mischief.

digimon cyber sleuth hackers
Digimon aren't looked upon highly in 'Cyber Sleuth' Photo: Bandai Namco

And, to be fair, a lot of the mischief you will encounter are caused by Digimon, but are they acting alone or by someone’s hand? It’s a mystery that is at the heart of Cyber Sleuth as your character becomes an assistant detective to get to the bottom of a nefarious conspiracy while also solving the problems of everyday people.

Cyber Sleuth tells this story in a compelling way while using visuals that are pleasing to the eyes.

As you play Cyber Sleuth, you’ll notice many of the cutscenes and overall story are actually anime-like. The characters and Digimon are animated as if you were watching the latest episode of the anime and any fan of Digimon will appreciate it.

The characters are also voiced by the original Japanese voice actors, lending itself even more to anime fans -- no offense to English dub actors.

GAMEPLAY

The first time playing Cyber Sleuth immediately reminded me of the classic Nintendo Gamecube game, Pokemon Colosseum. So much so I had to look up the studios who created both games. They are not the same but the similarities are uncanny.

The characters themselves look similar to Colosseum’s during dialogue and while moving in the overworld, which is just a straight walk or run.

digimon cyber sleuth overworld
The overworld of 'Digimon Cyber Sleuth' Photo: Bandai Namco

Even the battles are alike, with up to three Digimon on either side staying in their respective area while they trade turn-based attacks. This is nothing unique, as many games have this mechanic including the Pokemon Stadium series.

But what Cyber Sleuth does is make the battles more strategic. As many Pokemon fans know, many battles are won through type advantages and move selections. In Cyber Sleuth, players will have to account for much more than just simple typing advantages.

The Cross Combat system can have your team of Digimon team up to boost each other’s skills, which can really turn the tide in battle. There’s also a timeline on the battle screen that lets you know when each Digimon will have their turn in battle, with certain Digimon getting multiple turns. It’s all about how you raise your Digimon.

And speaking of raising, the DigiLab and DigiFarm systems are begging to be discovered for anyone who wants to have a competitive PVP tournament in Cyber Sleuth. There are intricate ways of Digivolving, De-Digivolving and raising your Digimon to hatch the “perfect” Digimon that make Cyber Sleuth way deeper than you may expect.

digimon cyber sleuth digi lab
You'll be visiting the DigiLab a lot in 'Cyber Sleuth' Photo: Bandai Namco

However, while the battling, collecting and raising parts of Cyber Sleuth are fun the story has A LOT of talking.

This is especially true in the first hours of the game. While tutorials and teaching players how to navigate the Digital World are all well and good, is it really necessary to finish a cutscene or dialogue and then have your character move a few feet before another pops up?

It’s understandable for a “mystery” game to be dialogue heavy and full of characters that need you to solve problems, but you will literally be pressing the X button to skip through the constant dialogue with no regard for how wonderful the voice acting is.

But be careful if you do that, because if you miss what your objective or the location of your objective may be in the dialogue there’s no easy way to check on the mission parameters. There’s no map, and no quest summaries in the pause menu. And talking to the person who gave you your mission doesn’t really help your dilemma because they won’t repeat the same dialogue. You’ll really want to pay attention.

VERDICT

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a great game for fans of Digimon. If you are a casual or non-fan of the franchise this is probably not the game for you.

It has an intriguing story with a battle system that is much deeper than you may expect. The visuals are great and the cutscenes are look like they’re almost cut straight out of an anime.

While there are a lot of talking and walking parts to Cyber Sleuth the charm of the story and the deep battle system overshadow those problems. We had hoped Bandai Namco and Media Vision could take the Digimon franchise to new heights, and Cyber Sleuth is a great start.

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