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  • John Bush

Game Review #439: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

Reviewer: John B Developer: Media.Vision Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment Category: Role Playing Release Date: 10.18.2019 Price: $49.99

Buy Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition from Amazon here.

Digimon: Digital Monsters

We are one step closer to the Nintendo Switch being home to every game, ever, with the release of Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition. Originally released exclusively for the PS4 and Vita back in 2016, with the sequel Hacker’s Memory coming along some two years later, the Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth series brought the Digimon franchise to the current generation of gaming systems. I logged a lot of hours into the original game on the Vita, but never found the time to give Hacker’s Memory a try, so when this combo came across the review deck I jumped at the chance to see what the game had to offer on the Switch. On the Vita, I remember a fun game system accompanied by memorable characters and an engaging, if a little generic-ish JRPG story. My time with the games on the Switch confirms that impression.

Cyber Sleuth

In Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, players can choose to take the role of either a male (Takumi Aiba) or female (Ami Aiba) protagonist. The character’s gender doesn’t make any difference to the story, really, so that choice is purely cosmetic if you’re not fully invested in playing as any particular gender. I did my Vita playthrough as the male protagonist, so I went female on the Switch. Anyway, your protagonist lives in a near-future Tokyo where a digital space known as EDEN has become an essential part of pretty much everyone’s everyday life. Companies around the world use EDEN to conduct business, online forums connect people around the globe; it’s basically the internet we have now, but with VR.

One day, a mysterious hacker gives Aiba and two friends an app called Digimon Capture, turning them into hackers. Digimon are wild computer programs found in certain parts of EDEN used by hackers to make their jobs way easier than learning how to code themselves. While investigating the program, the protagonist has their EDEN data corrupted when attempting to logout after coming into contact with an unknown digital organism. This leads to them becoming disconnected from their physical body in a condition called EDEN syndrome. After meeting up with a barely-dressed private detective, Aiba goes on a journey to recover their body and discover the mystery of the digital world and the company behind EDEN, Kamishiro Enterprises.

Hacker’s Memory

The second game in the collection, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory is described as a side story to the original game. There is some interaction with characters from the original game, but for the most part the main stories develop separately. There is no choice in protagonist this time around; you play as Keisuke Amasawa, member of the Hudie hacker team, which is hired by Zaxon (a large hacker group from the first game) to police rogue hackers. Hackers raided his original EDEN account, which is basically the same as not having any identity at all in this future. Keisuke joined Hudie to go after the hacker who took his identity, but stuck around for the camaraderie and purpose he finds there… and to go after the hacker who stole his identity. That dude or dudette is harder to find than Keisuke first thought. During his search, Keisuke’s friendships and new job embroil him in events that will affect the entire world of EDEN and maybe even existence as he knows it. No pressure for a rookie hacker, right?

While Keisuke and Aiba never meet, there is some overlap between the supporting characters. That is to both games’ credit, as the characters are the games’ strongest asset. The core group of friends that gather around Aiba and Keisuke are bursting with memorable and/or endearing personalities that are the key to getting players invested in the narrative. From brilliant and evasive private detective Kyoko Kuremi in Cyber Sleuth to hacker prodigy Erika Mishima in Hacker’s Memory, Digimon Story assembles a fantastic cast.

Digital Destruction

In terms of gameplay, both games in the collection play out pretty much exactly the same. Players can explore both the real and digital worlds, finding treasure, going to shops, and talking to NPCs to get some world-building dialogue. So, pretty typical JRPG stuff. The battle system is also composed of fairly familiar turn-based JRPG elements. You can assemble a party of up to three Digimon to bring into battle, and when the fighting starts it’s turn-based, with the turn order displayed along the side of the battle screen. You have the option to attack, use an item, use your Digimon’s skills, guard, escape from battle, or swap one of your active Digimon for one from the bench. While it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, the battle system is solidly built and enjoyable enough to play through. Most crucially, you can change the speed of the battle system in the menu by turning off full battle animations, so you don’t have to slog through unnecessarily drawn-out battles unless you want to.

The battle system has a little bit of depth added in the form of Digimon types and elemental types. There are three types of Digimon: Vaccine, Data, and Virus. Each type is strong against one other type and weak against the other, adding a rock-paper-scissor element to combat, and bringing a little bit of strategy into your battle party’s composition. Additionally, there are six elements which are also strong against one element and weak against another, further expanding the complexity of party building. It’s a good idea to have a broad range of Digimon types with you to be able to react to whatever different situations may arise. Experience points are shared between every Digimon in the party, not just the battle party, so keeping all of your Digimon at competitive levels isn’t too bad of a grind.

Digimon: Digital Monsters

Collecting and creating Digimon is accomplished via the Digimon Capture system. Digimon Capture auto-scans the enemy Digimon every battle; once the scan hits 100% you can create it in the Digilab. You can also let the scan go up to 200%, which results in slightly better stats for your Digimon. The Digilab is also where you Digivolve your existing Digimon into more powerful forms when they meet certain requirements. Most Digimon can Digivolve into many different forms, so if you don’t like the Digimon you end up with you can de-Digivolve into the previous Digimon and try again. You should think about it a little before doing that, however, as your Digimon goes back to level 1 whenever you Digivolve or de-Digivolve.

The Digilab has other funtions, as well, such as a shop, a function that lets you revisit cleared dungeons, and a restoration terminal. It is also where you manage your Digimon – they can either be placed in your active party, a Digifarm, or into idle storage. You can carry up to 11 Digimon with you at once, as long as you have the open memory. You start out with 20 memory slots, but that can be expanded as the game moves along. While in a Digifarm, your Digimon can train to gain experience, create items, or investigate EDEN to find you more cases to solve (more on that in a bit).

We Are Living In a Digital World

There are two ways you can interact with the digital world of EDEN; one is via the Digiline, which is basically a text messaging function. Supporting characters and even your own Digimon can send you messages; responding to them will raise your camaraderie and build your friendships. In certain areas, mostly the game’s dungeons, you can also use hacking skills. Hacking skills enable you to bypass firewalls, decrypt files containing vital information, or alter the number of random battles you encounter, to name a few advantages offered. Every hacking skill has a Digimon-related requirement to work; for example, the copy and paste skill only works if you have a vaccine-type Digimon in the party. This is another reason to keep a wide range of Digimon with you, if the fact that there are a bunch of really cool Digimon to unlock doesn’t do it for you.

Hitting the Boards

Both games use a board system to dole out quests, of both the main and side variety. Cyber Sleuth uses a big whiteboard in the Kuremi Detective Agency, while Hacker’s Memory lets you access the Hudie bulletin board via your PC in the Hudie hideout. Most major story quests don’t come from the boards, but some of the story is moved forward by board quests. Completing main and side quests will reward you with money and special items, as well as sleuth points (1st game) or hacker points (2nd game) to level up your rank as a sleuth or hacker, respectively. The higher you rank, the more rewarding – and difficult – the missions become.

Digital Design

From the graphics to the music, the art direction is very reminiscent of the Persona series. I can’t really think of a higher compliment. The games’ characters all feature bright, unique, and memorable designs. If you’ve followed the Digimon series before, you’ll know that Digimon range from cute as a button at the lowest evolutionary levels, to imposing and hardcore at the highest, with all kinds of combinations of the two in between. WarGreymon remains a personal favorite: Charizard that is also Wolverine but also kind of Iron Man is a formula that’s tough to beat. The only real sore spot is the backgrounds; there isn’t a whole lot of variety in the dungeon design. EDEN’s areas, the Kowloon areas, and the various story-related systems each have a unique design on their own, but by the end of the game only having three different dungeon type can get a little stale.

The music isn’t as jazzy or smooth as Persona’s, but it retains the upbeat tempo and high energy feel. The soundtrack is fittingly mostly electronic and makes for a good accompaniment to the action and story. The voiceover is Japanese only, which isn’t a huge problem for me personally. The only thing that doesn’t have subtitles are the post-battle declarations, which I’m just going to go ahead and assume have no bearing on the outcome of the story.

Become the Guardian of EDEN

Whether or not you’re a Digimon fan, this collection is worth checking out if you’re a fan of JRPGs. It features engaging storylines with memorable characters, a competent, seldom frustrating, and sufficiently tactical battle system, and colorful, unique art direction. Collecting and Digivolving new Digimon feels rewarding and adds a level of satisfaction to progressing through the game beyond just advancing the story. Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition isn’t just the total package; it’s two total packages for the price of one. How do you beat that?

Score: 10/10

Buy Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition from Amazon here.

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*A game cartridge was provided for review purposes.

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