Games I won’t review – Digimon World: Next Order
So last year we got Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, and my review for that was pretty positive. It was a fairly standard JRPG with the whole digivolving concept that let you have a large variety of Digimon in your party. It wasn’t the most amazing RPG out there but it did the job quite well.
So I figured, hey, why not buy the follow up. However I should’ve read this game’s title correctly, because this isn’t Digimon Story like Cyber Sleuth was, this is Digimon World. And what I got when I turned on the game just baffled me.
Why is this a “Game I won’t review”? Well, simple enough: I’m about 10 hours in, and I’m tired of it, and despite all that time spent I’m not even through Chapter 1 yet (don’t know how many chapters there are, don’t care). I’m basically writing this as a review, but please don’t take it as such.
(this is really long for a “not review”, but I can’t consider it an actual review)
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Date of Release: January 31st 2017
Genre: Stat-raising simulator
Rated E10+ for Everyone over 10
Man this sure looks like an upscaled Vita game… But that’s because it IS an upscaled Vita game. In Japan last year this was released as a Vita-exclusive. The Vita version didn’t come out here though, strangely enough. Heck, the PS4 version isn’t even out in Japan as of this writing (it will be soon), so it was clearly meant for the international release only. The character and Digimon models are bafflingly low quality for a PS4 game. They’re mostly fine seen from afar, but when you get a closer look you can literally count polygons on them. The facial animation on the human characters make the N64 look cutting edge. The textures in the environment are really low-quality. I mean, the game overall does look nice, but technically it’s not something that should’ve been allowed for release on PS4. It’s colorful and Digimon will always look cool.
The sound is really annoying. See, if a Digimon partner on your team is feeling the slightly bit tired or needing to poop or mad at you for no reason, it’ll keep fucking screaming at you until you go to sleep. I mean, I’m sure the music is okay, but I can’t really hear it over the sound of Digimon constantly screaming. There’s a bit of voice acting in cutscenes, but I can’t pay attention to it because of the horrendous facial animation.
Story is simple. Humans get sucked into the digital world for some reason. They get a Digimon partner (you get 2 partners, yay), and must help the digital world in a weird Machinedramon invasion (seemingly caused by a human) and find a way back home. If there’s any more to it I never found out.
So yeah, this is actually a sequel to the Playstation series Digimon World, which I never played (I really wanted to back in the day but only had an N64 for the longest time and none of my friends had that particular game). So it plays much differently from a standard JRPG.
How this works is that you get 2 Digimon partners. You go to a training hall, decide in a grid what stat to train up (you also train up the 2 adjacent stats in the grid a very little bit), play a bonus roulette thing (really easy to do) to get a 1.25x stat boost for this training session, and see the numbers go up. Each training session uses up 1 in-game hour. 24 hours in a day (though you wake up at 9am, so really just 15 hours). Training works up a sweat, so while training you need to take breaks (1 hour, takes out part of the exhaustion). That’s where you spend most of the game, looking at menus and looking at numbers go up.
You also have to take care of your Digimon. Every couple hours they need food. You can find food lying around in the world outside of the city (which starts out as a village, more on that later), and there’s a field in the city where meat grows that you can get some from every day. Digimon have food preferences that I never cared about. You also need to bring them to the toilet over time because of course.
So Digimon start in baby form, then In-Training, then Rookie and so on. Like in the show, yay. How this works is that every Digimon has 1 or more other Digimon it can digivolve into. Each digivolution has a stat requirement, and an age requirement for every form (I think it’s 7 days old for Ultimate, 11 days old for Mega, not sure for anything before). For all the digivolutions, requirement for stats you need to attain before your Digimon will digivolve are learned when you scold or praise them after different actions. Sometimes you don’t need to get all of them though which is nice, raising/reducing bond and knowledge and wins and weight is annoyingly long and weird. Stats can go really high though, so to get a Mega Digimon you need stats in the 5k range to even just digivolve them.
However, the whole thing is fucked up because, at a certain age (probably around 18 days old for a good long while of the game), they die! They revert back to a Digiegg, which you choose what type you want (so you can try different Digimon easily). So you start again with a weak-ass baby Digimon that you have to re-digivolve back to an acceptable level. What really pisses me off here is that NO OTHER DIGIMON IN THE GAME DIES OF AGE. NONE. So why do mine die? Why doesn’t fucking Yukimura the Growlmon ever fucking die? I’d get if you could reset Digimon Disgaea-style, but them dying out of nowhere and being forced to re-train them? Why? If you’re just about to go fight a story boss and one of your Digimon dies before that? Well time to spend a couple hours training before you can go fight that boss again! They do end up stronger after reviving in the long run, but the long run is, you know, long. Also you CAN do stuff to increase the lifetime of Digimon, like specific foods and Tamer skills.
So all this and I didn’t talk about fighting. And there’s a good reason for that: it’s not really a big thing. Lots of confusion though. So when you touch a Digimon on the field, battle starts. You get a round area where Digimon move in, and attack each other. And when I say “Digimon”, I mean they do the fighting. You have fairly limited input. They move around and attack automatically, and combat is real-time. They make no effort to avoid enemy attacks though.
Your input comes in 3 ways: giving orders, changing MP usage (not really sure what that does, I just go full-on) and giving items. Order points are gotten by cheering on the Digimon in battle. Press X at regular intervals, get 5-6 points a time (every 4-5 seconds I think). Sometimes you get more and I don’t know why. Pressing L or R pauses the battle for a couple seconds and you get the moveset of the Digimon in a wheel menu and you can spend order points (at least 30) to make them do that move right away. Make sure their positioning is good though because they do the attack on the spot. Oh, and if you stockpile Order Points up to 150 you can fuse Digimon together (not exactly sure how that works) or make them do a team attack that hits for a lot more.
Winning battles gives your Tamer EXP, and a couple stat increases for the Digimon (almost nothing, just a handful of points). Sometimes the Digimon learn moves, not sure how that works. The weird thing about battles is levels. On the field you see what level enemy Digimon are. I have no fucking clue what those numbers mean. How would I? My own Digimon, after all, don’t have a level. They JUST have stats. So how do I know if they can handle a level 26 Digimon or not? I can’t. Heck, the levels are misleading anyways. I saw level 3 Redveggiemon that were stronger than level 8 Demidevimon. I saw some level 28 things I beat easily, while some level 26 things would beat me mercilessly. Heck, the boss I’m currently stuck at is level 6 and he can hit both my partners for 5k damage each in a single attack. Even stats aren’t something I know what they really mean. Is 1000 Stamina good? Probably not due to that level 6 Machinedramon owning my ass. Plus, looking at stat requirements for Mega level Digimon I need 5000-6000 on certain stats. How the balls am I supposed to do that? The game doesn’t really tell you. You get 17-30 points to a stat per training session (150-300 on HP and MP), so clearly there’s something that needs to be done for much better stat boosts. Maybe it’s just later in the game that training starts actually having an effect, who knows. Kabuterimon upgrading my training gear isn’t giving a really big increase (and getting the money required for that is pretty hard since nothing fucking gives you money), so I guess it’s all about grinding some more.
Last things to mention… Leveling up the Tamer gives you skill points for various things like Digimon age, material gathering, training proficiency, stat boosts upon digivolution, various random things. In the field you sometimes find NPC Digimon that will give you sidequests. Do their sidequest and they join your village. Eventually the village (overnight) becomes a bigger city. The city has various facilities. Training, farming, shops, NPCs that just give you free stuff every day, coliseum. You get a builder that can upgrade facilities (using materials you find in the field). Some Digimon that join the city can give you advanced functions. One you get later lets you lock in which digivolution you’ll get, for example.
I was not expecting this kind of game before putting the disc in my PS4, but it’s pretty okay if you don’t mind a game that’s basically just about grinding. It’s weird because I’m a big fan of the Monster Rancher series (Tecmo make more of these please, thank you), which is very similar to this in some ways, but I find the annoyances to not be nearly as strong in that series. Here it’s a huge chore. Wanna go fight that Machinedramon and your Digimon Partners are just about strong enough and need just an extra day of training? Well fuck you they die and you have to retrain them from almost-scratch. I guess fuck you game. It’s so damn annoying.
I do think there’s something here that works. Just not for me. It just feels like the game is fucking with me. Next Digimon game that comes out I’ll make sure “World” isn’t in the title. I definitely see the appeal of this game, It’s just not doing it for me as it’s currently designed.
This should’ve been a Vita release here, at least the graphics probably look almost acceptable on there.