I was a late bloomer when it comes to Digimon. Partaking in the Pokémon craze during the late 1990’s when I was still a child, I never really found the appeal of Digimon until much later in life. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I really started paying attention to the franchise and trying to absorb as much of it as I physically could. Needless to say, this also included the various video games released under the Digimon tag. When Bandai Namco announced Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth for a western release, I was instantly in due to it being developed by Media Vision, one of the better Japanese roleplaying game studios around. This excitement propelled me forward with the localization announcement of Digimon World: Next Order. After spending some time with it, is it just as good as last year’s Cyber Sleuth was? Read on for our full review.
Title: Digimon World: Next Order
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: B.B. Studio
Available On: PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Copy provided by the Publisher for the sake of this review
Digimon World: Next Order focuses on one of two main characters that the player can choose from at the beginning of the game, a male named Takuto and a female named Shiki (you can change the names to whatever you like, these are just the default options). From there, the story begins to unfold. The events of Next Order begin when the main character that you choose is sucked into the Digital World after placing the Digivice on their wrist, hoping they still had it in them. Unfortunately, the Digital World is being overrun with MachineDramons, and things are looking pretty dire.
Before Takuto or Shiki are attacked, they are saved by two Digimon, WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon, from certain death. After the tutorial battles, all three Digimon are basically left for dead though. This is when the game basically begins, as you’ll get ported to Jijimon’s house and introduced to several of the characters you’ll be working with, as well as figuring out how to evolve and digivolve your various companions that will be assisting you throughout the journey. The ultimate goal of Next Order is to find out why the MachineDramons are terrorizing the Digital World to save it, and to eventually make it back to the real world.
Digimon World: Next Order has a lot in common with last year’s Cyber Sleuth, but the overall mechanics and systems found within this release felt a lot more in depth to me and more about managing individual Digimon and stats than Cyber Sleuth was about. Couple that with the fact that your Digimon can actually die off in Next Order, and you’ll soon be finding yourself spending a lot of time managing your party, worrying about statistics, and paying a lot more attention to your actual Digimon than Cyber Sleuth made players do. Fans of deep management style games will absolutely be in heaven with this one.
The learning curve required for Next Order is much, much higher than it was for Cyber Sleuth, and I would recommend against starting with this entry if you’ve never played a Digimon game in the past. It can be extremely frustrating at times, but if you truly put in the work and hours required to understand the intricacies and mechanics within, there’s a solid roleplaying game found underneath it all. Fans of the series will absolutely love the requirements needed and time it takes to actually get going in Next Order. Once you’re off and running, the game does get easier to manage, which is always a good thing.
Training your Digimon and leveling up feels a lot like Final Fantasy XV than anything else. You can and will still get stat boosts and other effects from defeating other Digimon out in the field, but a majority of your leveling up will be done in the Training Hall, much like Final Fantasy XV focused on the camping mechanic in order to level up your party members. This type of system works really well, and goes nicely with the traditional style of leveling up found in most typical roleplaying games. While I still prefer gaining experience from battles and leveling up the old fashioned way, it’s fun to play through a game every now and then that shakes things up a bit.
Speaking of the battle system, it plays out a bit differently than you would expect. Reminiscent of the Yokai Watch games, you’re not really controlling your Digimon during combat and issuing commands like you would expect from a roleplaying game. Instead, you’re cheering your Digimon on, hyping them up, and trying to keep their morale boosted throughout the fights to ensure that they defeat their opponents. It can get a little boring at times, but the feeling when your Digimon successfully overcome the opposition is a great feeling. Luckily, there are portions during the combat when you can somewhat take control of what is happening by pressing L1 or R1 in order to select a specific command to give your Digimon.
It’s fairly obvious that this game was developed for and is a PlayStation Vita game at heart. It’s slightly disappointing that we didn’t get the Vita version at all localized in English, but at least we were able to get the PlayStation 4 version. That being said, the graphics really suffer thanks to this. However, a welcome addition to the game being brought to the PS4 over the PS Vita is the fact that the game supposedly runs a lot better than it did when it was released in Japan. We were not able to test this out ourselves, since we do not have access to the original version on the Vita, but reports that we have came across since the game was announced for western audiences state that the game runs significantly better on PS4. So that’s a plus!
Overall, Digimon World: Next Order is going to be the perfect game to satisfy the appetites of the diehard Digimon fan base and community. The game seriously has a lot to offer, and if you invest the time and energy needed to really appreciate everything it has going on, you’ll definitely want to keep coming back for more. A really solid roleplaying game foundation lies underneath the steep learning curve presented to the players, we’re just afraid that particular issue is going to scare off a lot of potential newcomers to the series.