Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review (PS4)
Having never played a Digimon game, I figured this game would be a Pokemon-type knock-off. Boy was I wrong! Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is set in the near future where a next-generation virtual-reality version of the internet named EDEN dominates. As with most RPGs, players start by choosing either a male or female character, though this has no impact on the story or character interactions. The main character is an amateur hacker, and in EDEN hackers use programs called Digimon that appear as a large variety of creature-like forms. The player comes across a mysterious entity called an Eater that leaves the protagonist with a half-digital body, letting them move between cyberspace and the real world.
The sleuth part of Cyber Sleuth is mostly story-related and doesn't show up much in the gameplay. Following the incident with the Eater, the player character is rescued by private detective Kyoko Kuremi and quickly recruited to be her assistant while investigating various Digimon-related incidents using the helpful abilities that emerge from being half-digital. Solving various cases is usually just a matter of finding the correct person to talk to, but the cases themselves frequently feature interesting little side-stories. While the overall plot itself doesn't offer all that many surprises, it's helped by a very entertaining cast.
Although Cyber Sleuth is a standard, generic, turn-based battle system, it is stable and entertaining. Players can have up to three Digimon from their party fighting at any one time, occasionally joined by impenetrable mates. A players Digimon may be swapped out at any time, at the cost of an action. The standard options are available on each Digimon's turn: attack, guard, item, or skill. A major part of the battle system is about selecting the right Digimon for each battle. There are four attributes and five elements, each with different strengths and weaknesses. The game makes it obvious if an attack is going to be effective, so players don't need to worry about remembering the exact relationships, but do need to ensure they have enough of a variety at their disposal. Provided players have a decent set of Digimon, the game's normal difficulty doesn't offer too much challenge, though there are a few tough bosses around.
Each time a Digimon is encountered in battle it's scan rate increases. Once it reaches 100 percent the player can visit the DigiLab and hatch one of them from an egg. From there, Digimon earn levels through battle or by being placed on a digital farm. Once level and stat requirements are met, they can be Digivolved into a more powerful form.
When it comes to graphics, Cyber Sleuth doesn't exactly look like a current-generation RPG, but the brief anime cutscenes help breathe some life into it. The cheery soundtrack strongly reminds me of the Persona series in all the best ways.
Even though I have never played a Digimon game before, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has plenty to offer to those unfamiliar with it. It's cast, both human and digital, really bring the story and setting to life, and the game does a very good job of simulating the appeal of monster collecting and raising that the Pokémon series has mastered.