Developer: Witch Craft Co., Ltd. & Hyde
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Reviewed on: PC
Also available on: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 & Xbox One
Release Date: 28/07/2022
Growing up I have to admit, I was more of a Pokemon fan than I was of the Digimon franchise, but in both cases there was something about these little monsters that has always grabbed my attention. I have dabbled here and there in the Digimon universe over the years including both the TV series and past Digimon games, specifically Digimon World 3 On the PlayStation. Over the years there have been some great Digimon games and some not so great ones….. So I was excited when Bandai Namco announced Digimon Survive all the way back in 2018, And really keen to see what it had to offer. Well after a slew of delays, it's finally here and well, it's a bit of a mixed bag.
Let's set one thing straight right off the bat, Digimon Survive is first and foremost a visual novel. It's split well in favour of storytelling over actual gameplay which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Personally, I like it. I am definitely more of an action gamer than a visual art gamer so I was a little disappointed in the lack of combat and actual gameplay. I also have a very short attention span when it comes to games grabbing me, and if a game starts off too slow, I generally don't love them. However, once I took a moment to realise that Digimon Survive is in fact primarily a “visual novel” it was only then that I allowed myself to truly enjoy it for what it is, and what it is, is a beautifully told story filled with relatable and familiar characters.
Graphically, Digimon Survive looks gorgeous, not in a AAA “ultra realistic” way, but in a very (for want of a better word) visual novel, kind of way. Think Digimon Adventure (the TV series) that you can interact with and make decisions in. Decisions that have a rather big impact on what happens down the track. Without giving too much away, some of these differences include Agumon's Evolution options and the fate of some characters etc. This helps invest you into everything that is going on and really immerses you into the story that developers Witch Craft Co & Co have so beautifully put together. The Japanese voice acting is excellent and I personally will always go with the native voice acting on games such as this, however I can see the lack of English dubbing could be an issue for some. The art style itself is very typically JRPG, the soft colours and anime character models, the absolutely stunning scenery and quirky little level designs are something that anyone with a love of all things Japanese and anime are going to fall in love with.
In a video game where gameplay accounts for only about 25-30% of your experience, the expectation is that it better be good, and here's where Digimon is a little hit and miss. While it is good, it's not great enough in my opinion to pacify a lot of action based gamers. It has the same tried and tested Digimon mechanics, similar to that of games such as Final Fantasy; this grid based strategy fighter is familiar without feeling stale. The player selects 6 Digimon to take into battle and you use that turn based mechanic to attack or use items during your turn. This is exactly what I expected going in so I was neither mind blown nor disappointed. One thing that is new and I really enjoyed is the ability to talk to your opponents mid battle to persuade them to join your team. However this does become a little repetitive after a while when of course you want this 25% of the game to be all out action, not more dialogue. Exploration is honestly probably a little better than I expected from a visual novel that is so heavy on dialogue as this, but could have also been so much better. To travel from one area to another must be done by opening the map rather than simply being able to walk there or travel there any other way.
Digimon Survive is not going to be for everyone, if you're an action heavy gamer, then id honestly suggest maybe skipping this on , but if you're into JRPGs, visual novels or turn based combat games then Digimon survive is a pretty solid, in fact, id go as far to say that its probably one of the best visual novel experiences I’ve had. I would make one suggestion though, if you're going to buy Digimon Survive, consider buying it on the Nintendo Switch, because while it looked amazing on PC, the ability to take this game with me on the go was one that I was constantly disappointed I couldn't do. This game is gorgeous, it's engaging and it actually poses the odd combat challenge with some of the enemies you have to take on. Definitely know what you're going into, but also, definitely consider checking this one out if you're still interested after this review.