- Game: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory
- Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Media.Vision
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
Monster collecting and battling has never gotten old in the eyes of gamers. Nintendo and Game Freak have flooded the market with its line of Pokémon RPG’s to keep fans happy, plus Niantic’s augmented reality take on the franchise is still relevant. Titles that stick to the mechanics of those games may be less of a thing on home consoles, but they still exist. Home console owners who were thirsty for some creature collecting simulation action got just that in 2016’s Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Media.Vision managed to mash up a fun narrative about hackers and the digital world with the obsessive gameplay hook that comes with building a Digimon army. For those who were expecting a full sequel to that release, you may be parts disappointed and satiated with the series’ newest entry. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory doesn’t deviate too far from what was offered in its predecessor, which is both a blessing and a curse.
The new plotline follows a freshman hacker who aligns himself (yep, no female character option this time around) with an up and coming hacker group. His original account was stolen from him, which forces him to find out who the culprit is and rebuild his credibility with those who’ve abandoned him. What starts out as a simple seek and destroy mission turns into a dark adventure that impacts the balance between the real and digital worlds. The game’s 20 chapters unfolds at a nice pace and it’s easy to admire your fellow hackers and despise the more sinister personalities who are now running amok. You’d be forgiven for mistaking this game as a light hearted romp that doesn’t delve into more mature subject matter. Don’t let the game’s cartoony visuals and monster collecting premise fool you – this side story has plenty of serious moments that lends more weight to the main conflict at hand. Thankfully, the story does a good job of throwing in some fun dialogue and quests to switch up the mood to a lighter tone (providing a random hacker with the secret to finally getting a girlfriend is a good example of that).
Each chapter follows a certain method of progression – a huge moment occurs, then you’re set free to see what the main mission entails while also completing job requests on the side. During your investigations, you’ll venture through the real world and parts of the digital world (EDEN). Now if you’ve played the first game to completion, you won’t find a lot of new material here to enthrall you. A ton of reused assets have been thrown into this “side sequel,” of sorts. Entire locations make a comeback, along with old music. The welcoming title screen is even the same! The copy and paste job is easily noticeable within the first few hours of running around each hub world and digital space. Gaining access to new locales and having the chance to acquire all new Digimon is a nice touch, but there’s far too much old content taking up most of the space within this digital expedition. The presence of problems from the first game also come along for the ride, sadly.
Even with all the environmental and audio retreads, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory will still hook players with its focus on amassing new Digimon, upgrading them to new forms and taking them into battle. Hardcore Digimon fans will perk up at the addition of so many new creature companions getting added to the already massive roster. The battle system’s simple premise still succeeds, plus the new Domination Battles offer up a nice deviation to the familiar formula. If you put a crazy amount of hours into the first game, then doing so once again with this entry shouldn’t be an issue. But if you’ve already gotten your fill of Digimon training and care taking, then you won’t have much reason to take on those tasks once more.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory relies too heavily on everything that was introduced in the entry that came before it. While the new story, characters, puzzles, battles and locations are all commendable elements, the wealth of reused content used in this entry is troubling. The addictive nature of the game that comes from its focus on building up the strongest Digimon army is still in place, which is always a good thing. It’s just sad to see that the most entertaining aspect of this release isn’t tied to a whole new game with fresh places to see and more unique songs to listen to. Let’s hope a true sequel in the Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth franchise is on its way…
- The increase in available Digimon to collect, upgrade & train is admirable
- The added Domination Battles are a fun, fresh addition to all the systems at play here
- The new plotline, plus nods to characters/moments from the first game are both interesting
- A lot of elements from the first game (locations, the soundtrack etc.) are reused
- The same problems from the first release have returned as well