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Digimon Survive Review

Digimon Survive

Digimon Survive is the most recent game in the long running Digimon franchise. With 25 years of history Digimon ranged from a tamagotchi spin-off into an anime and many other mediums. In recent years Digimon has shifted towards an older audience, ageing along with its now adult fans. So how does Digimon Survive measure up as an adult focused visual novel RPG?

Digimon Has Grown Up

Immediately, you’ll notice the mature themes this game conveys. Following recent Digimon media, Digimon Survive combines the mature themes of the former with the horror elements of the latter. However, this game’s narrative takes a lot from the original Digimon Adventure anime. This is mostly in its story beats and characters but with enough changes and twists that it feels fresh yet nostalgic. They hammer home pretty early that this game isn’t for kids with tragedies occurring one after another, some of which you can’t prevent until New Game+. In fact this game has four different endings, or technically five if you count the possible game over. So Digimon Survive carries a large degree of replayability and a handy option to skip dialogue you’ve already seen.

As Digimon does, the cast of characters find themselves transported to another world full of the creatures known as Digimon (well, sort of). This game treats Digimon more as mythical beasts (labelled Kemonogami) than digital entities but still follows the trend of the Digimon being their own characters. Another twist is how deadly this new world proves to be and how much survival matters.

Digital Or Not

While playing Digimon Survive you’ll be making a lot of use out of the camera mechanic. Using the camera on locations marked with digital static reveals items, enemies or scenes. This is one of the few times Digimon Survive uses the digital part of Digital Monsters. In fact, you’ll notice while playing that the term Digimon is rarely used. Survive uses the concept that Digimon have always existed parallel to the real world even without digital age technology. Not dissimilar to the pre-anime lore. To that end, Survive puts the focus on its Japanese folklore and uses the themes of individual Digimon as more than flavour text.

Fight To Survive

Digimon Survive’s combat falls into the turn-based genre set on an isometric grid. As such, combat is quite simple and you often spend turns doing nothing but moving and guarding if enemies are out of range. When enemies are in range you’re given two attacks per Digimon. One of which is ‘attack’ while the other possesses a special attack name. Oddly, some of the regular attacks are actually named abilities without using that specific name. You can also equip your Digimon with items that boost their stats or add extra attacks.

Additionally, Digimon once again makes use of its own take on the rock, paper, scissors format for types and elements. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t notice this for most of the game as it isn’t as restrictive as other Digimon titles.

One issue with the late game and new game plus is that lower level enemies will often spend the entire battle running to the far corners of the map. dragging out time spent on an encounter.

Choices Matter

Digimon Survive possesses a strong story that changes with your choices through its visual novel gameplay. The affinity mechanic to increase friendships with other characters as well as enable their Digimon partner’s to evolve is one of the most engaging aspects of the game. It can feel out of place sometimes when it comes to unlocking Ultimates or Megas in ‘Deep Woods’ side events. At times the dialogue can feel either long winded or repetitive. As if they had a quota of words to fill a scene. You may come away thinking that the same story could have been told in a tighter package. Each of its endings is a satisfying conclusion in its own right. They feature a number of exclusive evolution paths for many of the cast that’ll keep you replaying.

The turn-based battles, although somewhat enjoyable in how powerful your Digimon feel and fit into the story, can be slow or too simplistic and provide little challenge. Additionally, the Talk Command buffs can speed up battles. Another option of the Talk command lets you recruit Digimon to your team, but only if you pass their multiple choice questions. Occasionally, there are battle missions with goals of protecting or escorting a character, and fortunately they don’t fall into the typically painful escort mission box.

Final Thoughts

Digimon Survive captures the essence of the Digimon Adventure anime for an older audience and includes a few underused Digimon for the spotlight. This will no doubt be an absolute win for Digimon fans who grew up with the anime and the PSP era of visual novels. Even those who enjoy the Digimon stories that are not tied heavily to the anime’s success in the early 2000’s will get a real kick out of this. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an RPG with lots of Digimon raising you may want to look elsewhere. There can be hours without running into a combat encounter while playing. After all, you’re playing this game for its narrative and not the usual Digimon raising of the other games.