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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review!

If you have read my Top 10 favorite Digimon post or my Top 10 Favorite video games post, you know that I love Digimon. So now that I lave finally beaten Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth's main story, let's review it shall we?

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So what exactly is Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth? It's a JRPG with Digimon. So when I learned that there's a surprisingly good Digimon video game that came out less than a year ago (at the time of this post), I was hyped up, since I've been a long time fan of the cartoon.

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If you don't know who these two Digimon are,
then go watch the cartoon.

In Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, you play the role of either a male or female rookie detective (you can pick your character's gender) who solves various cyber crimes with the help of the titular digital monsters while exploring a virtual reality network known as EDEN. I've heard that this game gets compared to the Persona franchise very frequently, but I myself have somehow never heard of Persona prior to playing this game.

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The first thing you will notice about this game is the lack of English voice acting. Every bit of dialogue is in Japanese, but with English captions. So if you want to learn how to speak Japanese, then- Oh wait I already made that joke on my Top 10 Favorite Video Games post. Considering I myself don't know Japanese, I can't really say how good the voice acting actually is, but if you know somebody who does speak Japanese, ask them how good the voice acting is.

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Gallantmon is in this game. He plays a surprisingly
important role in the story! Yay!

Before I actually comment on the gameplay, I would like to say that I thoroughly loved this game's story. It's kind of slow paced at the beginning, but it REALLY picks up when you get to Chapter 11 (out of 20 Chapters). The characters were good, and out of all the human characters, I think my favorite would have to be either Jimiken (the crazy rock star with an ego the size of the sun, who inexplicably alternates between speaking in Japanese and very, very simple English) or Yuugo (basically a teenage version of Professor Oak from Pokemon).

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On to the actual gameplay. Let's get my biggest gripe out of the way. This game is very poorly balanced. I actually had to turn the difficulty UP because the battles were getting boringly easy. And then I had to turn the difficulty DOWN because of a brutally unfair (or at least what I considered brutally unfair) boss battle towards the end of the game. You see, to keep a game from getting too easy or too hard, the difficulty needs to rise gradually. That way, the player gets progressively stronger to accommodate the increased difficulty. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth lacks such a progression system, leading to the player getting used to the same old easy, one-shot-able enemies and being embarrassingly unprepared for sudden spikes in difficulty during the boss battles. Heck, the ONLY fights that gave me trouble personally ACTUALLY WERE the boss battles. And even then, there were only three bosses that gave me an actual game over, and two of those three had the ability to heal themselves (I can't stand bosses that can heal themselves). And, should you choose, there are dozens of ways to make it EASIER. There are several methods of power-leveling your Digimon to get them to ridiculously high levels in a matter of minutes. Although, whether you care about being challenged or just want to play the game for fun is entirely up to you.

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But despite the incredibly poor balancing system of this game, it's still fun to play if you play it on Normal. On Hard, regular fights are more difficult early on, but like I said, there are tons of exploits to power-level your Digimon, and even then, EXP is so plentiful you level up VERY frequently without needing to actually grind.

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Combat in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is turn-based. There's a little timeline showing the order of turns (the higher your own Digimon's Speed Stat is, the more turns you get per timeline). When it's your turn, you have a variety of options: Attack, which makes the Digimon in question hit the target with a regular melee attack. Guard, where the Digimon in question will block any and all attacks until it's next turn. Skill, and this is the one you'll use most often, makes it so you can access the Digimon's Skill's which are basically stronger attacks that deal more damage at the cost of a resource called SP. Additionally Skills are divided into two types; Special Attacks, which are unique to that species of Digimon, and Inherited Skills, which are shared across any Digimon in that digivolution family. And the last of the four major options is Item, which lets you use an item to either heal or buff your Digimon (sometimes both at the same time). Then there's Escape and Auto mode. Escape, as the name implies, it's you run away from battles (basically you are never going to use this unless you are a maniac). And Auto mode simply lets the game fight your battles for you. Auto Mode won't use items however. I don't recommend using Auto Mode since the A.I. for it is terrible. I actually tested it out and it will always use whichever attack does the most damage, but it doesn't take the target's typing and attribute into account and will ignore multi-hit attacks like RizeGreymon's Trident Revolver.

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But how do you actually get your own Digimon? It's a process that is a little bit grindy but it's better than using a Pokeball since it is guaranteed to work every time. Every time you encounter a Digimon, it's "Scan Rate" will increase. Once it hits 100%, you can make your own of that specific kind of Digimon. However, if you wait until the Scan Rate is 200%, the Digimon will start life with significantly higher stats. Additionally, you can Digivolve your Digimon at the Digilab (a kind of HUB world for Digimon). However, to actually digivolve your Digimon, the Digimon in question must meet some criteria, such as being at a certain level or having high enough stats. The Royal Knights, a group of really powerful Digimon. cannot be acquired through Scan Rates and the only way to get them is through Digivolution. However, the Digimon needed to digivolve into the Royal Knights cannot actually Digivolve into them until a series of side-missions unlocked VERY late into the game are completed. Talk about a real hassle...

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One thing I like about this game is, and I know I already stated this, but this game is not afraid to delve into dark themes. A manga artist goes insane when her work is harshly criticized, Crusadermon views herself as a harbinger of retribution for humanity's sins, a bunch of disturbingly creepy monsters called Eaters can put people into a coma with a single bite... The list goes on and on.

However, this game is also simply hilarious at times, since it's full of pop culture references. Like there's a SEGA logo at a arcade, one of the main characters makes a reference to both Yo-kai Watch and Pokemon in the same sentence, and one of the Royal Knights says "Do or do not. There is no try." Which is a reference to Star Wars, in case you have no idea what that quote means. And I really doubt you DON'T know that quote since A: It's literally the single most famous quote in the history of cinema. And B: It's a flipping STAR WARS quote. Everyone knows what Star Wars is.

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In addition to the funny pop culture references, there are some legitimately funny moments as well. Like I remember there's one moment where you and a Lopmon look for his/her/it's friend, a Tokomon. If you go to the EDEN Free Area, you can find one of the main characters Yuuko... And then the camera zooms out with a "TA-DAAAA!!!!" sound and there's Tokomon sitting on top of her head. The sight of seeing a Tokomon on the dark and brooding Yuuko is simply priceless.

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As for graphics and music, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has some surprisingly good graphics. I say surprisingly good because the PS4 version (the version I played) is literally just a port of the original PS Vita version. I like the design of the areas and some of the characters. The Digimon themselves look amazing. The human characters are alright. There are some really... Bizarre fashion choices that the costume department made for this game. Like Arata is wearing a blue onesie underneath his jacket, basically the entirety of Rina's ensemble, Hackmon is wearing a pair of goggles on the back of his cloak, which doesn't make any sense since given the way Hackmon's face is structured, it should be IMPOSSIBLE for him to wear goggles at all. I could go on all day about the questionable decisions that went into the design of some of the character's outfits. The main character, Yuuko, Yuugo, and Nokia's designs look just fine, however.

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As far as music goes. this game has JRPG music. I'm not saying that the music is bad, it's just it sounds like a JRPG. Which is exactly what Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is! I will say that the final boss theme is surprisingly epic with a opening motif sounding like a more theatrical version of the legendary Jaws theme. You know, the one that sounds like "Duh-nuh........Duh-nuh.......Duh-nuh...Duh-nuh-Duh-nuh-duh-nuh-duh DUH NUH!!!". That is a horrible transcription of the Jaws theme but you get the point right? Good!

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I can confirm that they do NOT, I repeat, NOT
*kill off Leomon! Congrats, Leomon!

Another theme I absolutely love is the Royal Knight boss music. These theme plays when you battle the Royal Knights, and I wish that once you got your own Royal Knights that as long as the Royal Knight is in battle that the Royal Knight theme would replace the regular battle music. This theme is fast paced and fills you not with **DETERMINATION, but a sense of urgency and dread, and the opera chanting adds to the feel that you are facing off against a truly powerful opponent. Or rather, that's how I feel about the Royal Knight theme. Aside from that, and an absolutely beautiful piano theme that plays during the more emotional parts of the story, such as SPOILER ALERT! the Beginning of EDEN area, the music is nothing special. Like I said, it's not bad, it's just kind of average.

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You know things just got real when you have to fight a dragon
so big it can fit your entire team in the palm of it's hand...

Overall, I like Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth a lot, but the poor balancing will either make or break the game for you. So I shall give a 7/10.

*If you don't understand the joke, it's a reference to the fact that in the Digimon cartoon, Leomon will almost ALWAYS get killed off by the main villain of that specific season. Heck, one time he digivolved into SaberLeomon and STILL got killed even with the added power of being a Mega!

**Yes. I made a Undertale reference. Again. #StopSpencerfrommakingUndertalejokes.

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