We’ve been waiting for Digimon Survive for quite a few years now but the wait is finally over. Bandai Namco’s latest entry in the series is finally out across multiple platforms and I’ve got the verdict right here on the PlayStation 4 version.
I was a pretty big fan of Digimon when I was younger having watched the first few seasons of the anime, the movies, and played many of the games. While I haven’t kept up with the series much in recent years I’m always interested when a game based on it drops. For those who were a fan of the Digimon World games like myself or the recent Cyber Sleuth titles, you’ll find that Digimon Survive is quite different. This is more of a visual novel experience with some tactical RPG elements mixed in. While many people may hear visual novel and dip out, I think Digimon fans will actually find quite a lot here to love if they give it a chance just as I did.
The story follows our main character Takuma Momozuka who is on a school trip with friends. Much like any Digimon adventure though things take a wild turn when Takuma ventures into some ruins and finds himself and his friends transported to another world. Here they each end up with a partner Digimon and will have to figure out a way back to their world. The story is a bit of a slow burn when you start out with things not picking up until you’re a few hours into it. I didn’t mind though as the game is gorgeous to look at from the get go and reminded me of watching the show when I was younger. What really surprised me about the story though was just how dark it is with themes like depression and abuse tackled so don’t think this is going to be some happy tale with friends hanging out with Digimon. The world Takuma and the others have ended up in is full of dangers and evil Digimon won’t hesitate for a second to kill these kids if it gets them what they want. As I kept playing the game, I found myself caring more and more about the cast of characters in it. Much like the original series you got different personality types and they can seem a little shallow at first but each person gets development as you keep playing. With this being a visual novel, you’ll also find yourself making choices throughout and these choices have very real consequences on your relationship with the other characters.
While most of the game is a visual novel there are parts of it where you’ll engage in tactical RPG battles. Now don’t go expecting deep mechanics because you won’t find them in this game but I still had fun for what it’s worth. Battles play out on a grid where you and the enemy Digimon will take turns attacking. On your turn you can move a Digimon and once you’re within range of an enemy you can attack them. Each Digimon in the game has different stats, attacks, and weaknesses to learn. You can also spend SP during battle to have your Digimon digivolve into stronger Digimon. While part of battling involves making your team stronger the other part involves you trying to negotiate with enemy Digimon to recruit them which I was all about. Recruiting them usually just involves talking with them and answering a few questions correctly to get them on your side. With any luck they’ll join your team but if they don’t, you’ll have to fight them and maybe enter into another battle later to try again.
I already mentioned that Digimon Survive looks gorgeous from start to finish but the music and voice acting is really good as well. I wish there was an English option but sadly all the voice acting is Japanese only. The music can range from more lighthearted tunes to ones that sound straight out of a horror movie which I really liked as they matched the dark themes of the story. Trophy hunters will find 46 trophies to earn including a Platinum but expect to spend many hours to earn them all.
Digimon Survive tells a captivating, dark, and emotional story that kept me wanting to see what would happen next. The focus on being a visual novel first won’t be for everyone as if you value gameplay in your Digimon games you won’t get a ton of that here. I wish the combat was a bit deeper in this game but I still had fun with it and I was always trying to get new Digimon on my side. If you are looking for a bit of a different Digimon experience I highly recommend Digimon Survive.
*Digimon Survive is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Story is dark, emotional, and surprising
- Well developed characters
- Beautiful art direction
- Fun to recruit new Digimon and Digivolve your own
- Music, voice acting, and sound design is top notch
- Story can take a bit to get going
- Battles don't happen often and aren't very deep