Have you ever seen someone with massive, toned arms but surprisingly skinny legs? Digimon Survive is kind of like that person: it massively succeeds in being an entertaining visual novel, but skips the leg day completely when it comes to its tedious tactical combat. Serious pacing issues aside, meeting Digimon Survive’s memorable characters and exploring the grim world they find themselves in makes the story at its core very enjoyable. But as this visual novel digivolves in the areas of storytelling and characterization, the slow and simplistic turn-based combat system crammed into it is about to spoil this otherwise enjoyable tale entirely.
The frigid opening hours of Digimon Survive features a group of quirky high school kids who are sucked into a parallel world filled with Digimon. This will be a familiar setup for any Digimon fan, but a a lot a darker tone and a new cast of characters means that’s about where the similarities end. Digimon has always dabbled in dark themes, but what follows here is a disturbing story filled with intense and traumatic stories, physical and verbal abuse, psychotic episodes, betrayals and gruesome deaths, all alongside the mascots. colorful cartoon characters that transform into sexy humanoids through the power of friendship. Tone control font? Yes, I’d like to report a murder.
Digimon Survive Screens
The perilous story of Digimon Survive sees these students and their destined Digimon partners trying to survive the mysterious and dangerous world they now find themselves in while searching for a way back to their own. Unfortunately, they are also surrounded by evil and sadistic Digimon who enjoy killing children and monologue about how much they enjoy killing children in equal measure. It is a strange ride, certainly, but also very pleasant.
And while it can be shocking at times, Digimon Survive benefits from both its dark tone and the incredibly high stakes it sets. For example, characters can be killed horribly because you haven’t spent enough time developing a relationship with them. Naturally, this turns them into the worst version of themselves, and their death is entirely your fault for being a bad friend. These stakes work great in a visual novel that puts its characters front and center, especially since the Digimon franchise has always relied heavily on the trope of saving the world through the power of friendship – this time it there are only a lot more murders going on.
All that murder looks fantastic too, thanks to an anime art style that made me forget I wasn’t watching a Digimon TV show half the time. The characters are incredibly crisp and expressive – so much so that I’ve almost forgiven the lack of an English voice acting option, which I generally prefer. It’s just a shame that I got used to such stellar graphics in the narrative sections that make up most of the adventure, because every time after that I jumped on the low-res textures and overly simplistic character models of its tactical gameplay sections, the boost would have I nearly broke my neck. Digimon Survive’s music is also generally high quality, although there are only a handful of tracks playing over and over throughout the roughly 40 hour runtime, so unfortunately I got some fed up at the end.
A slow death
As a visual novel first and foremost, Digimon Survive has you doing numbers-based activities like finding hidden objects and socializing with your comrades, but the story around those things is largely pretty impressive. It has memorable characters, a unique setting, and more than a few neat twists (though admittedly I’ve seen many of its reveals come from a mile away). You’ll get to hang out with friendly, if a little one-dimensional, human companions like the weighty mother hen Aoi and the talkative goofball Minoru, as well as the much more interesting Digimon characters like the ever-lovable Agumon and the Falcomon. surprisingly mature and severe. Digimon Survive also has real storytelling chops at all the right times, and the pivotal moments where it flexes them represent some of the adventure’s best.
The biggest problem with the story is that it moves at a snail’s pace most of the time, with lots of meaningless filler filling its chapters and characters who absolutely refuse to stop rehashing the same things over and over. again – so much so that I was yelling “I already get it” at my television. The first few hours in particular are so slow that they left an incredibly bad first impression until things finally started to build. But just as things were getting started, the funny police inevitably arrived to shove an unnecessarily long conversation down my throat. One section had me walking through identical corridors of a waterway to discover the same illusory figures over and over (which tricked my character each time, naturally), while another had me bouncing between a handful of areas as I hunted around a group of characters who briefly argued with me before fleeing to be chased again. There’s just a ton of wheel spinning between otherwise interesting story developments, bogging down the whole experience.
Luckily, the relationships you build as you progress through the mysteries of this world pay dividends and have a significant impact on the story, culminating in a few different endings (plus a secret that can only be achieved during NewGame+). Most of these endings are at least worth seeing once, but accessing them requires mastering a rigid, non-intuitive karma system that measures your Morale, Anger, and Harmony scores based on options. dialogue you choose along the way. Getting access to some of the endings and getting the characters to like you will require learning what kinds of responses one character likes over another, which meant a lot of times I wasn’t roleplaying as a character, but I gave an answer that I thought. a certain person would love me for – or worse, just do it so I could score high enough in a category to unlock a certain ending, which took me out of the experience forcing me to metagame more often than I would have liked.
Digivolve in Chaos
Between long stretches of visual novel gameplay, you’ll fight your way through the absolutely heinous tactical combat of Digimon Survive. These turn-based battles will be familiar to you if you’ve ever played anything like a Fire Emblem game, only this particular iteration of the genre is unbearable in just about every way imaginable. It’s one of the most rudimentary designs I’ve ever seen in a tactics game: each Digimon has only two moves (a standard attack and a signature move), the enemies are identical and predictable, and the combat system doesn’t scale at all as you progress. In fact, there are so few factors to consider that hardly any tactics or strategy were ever required of me beyond picking my strongest Digimon and rushing my opponent, even on harder difficulties. . The result is a repetitive and painfully boring combat system that I found deeply offensive, and couldn’t take more than a minute at a time before I sighed deeply and resigned myself to its cold, heartbreaking embrace.
Which is unfortunate, because the truly worthwhile story is interrupted by these protracted, crude encounters that often go on too long. If you’re hoping to add your favorite Digimon to your roster or if you’re playing on normal or hard difficulties like I’ve jumped between, a certain amount of grinding will also be required, and that means you’ll have to submit to this rudimentary and challenging system. boring fight on a regular basis. Digimon Survive also uses a recruitment system similar to Persona 5, where you convince Digimon to join your team by answering seemingly pointless questions with equally meaningless answers to find the answers every Digimon loves. If you answer the questions correctly to a Digimon’s satisfaction, then you have a percentage chance of them joining your team – which in my case caused the Digimon to run away about 80% of the time, which forced me to research them and support the combat system again. This is seriously one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in recent memory and left an extremely sour taste in my mouth on an adventure that I would have enjoyed much more if it hadn’t been included at all.
In fairness, the devs have included plenty of options to make the painful combat less tricky by letting you increase combat speed, turn off animations, and even use an auto-combat option so you can just watch passively. your Digimon will get away with it. There’s even a “try again” option if you try to catch a Digimon and fail because RNG isn’t going in your favor. Of course, with so many tools that let you speed, jump, or otherwise not engage the combat system, it’s kind of sad that so much effort has gone into letting you dodge at all costs. to play half the game. I would have much rather that effort had been spent on fleshing it out and making the combat actually fun to play.
There aren’t many compliments I can give Digimon Survive’s combat, but one is that it satisfactorily rewards players who invest time in developing social bonds with story characters. . This is because your affinity with a character determines how well they are able to Digivolve, which means those you are closest with will be the strongest allies on the battlefield. If you’re like me and were hoping to spend as little time as possible in this mess of a game mode, this is a huge incentive to hang out with your friends and make sure they’re happy.