Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Review

March 7, 2016

Digimon is a franchise I used to love as a child. However, as the series developed and started to go in some weird directions I eventually became almost completely disinterested in it. Over time, the question became what, if anything, would entice me into checking out the franchise once again. To my surprise, the answer was to take a few concepts from one of my favourite JRPG’s, Persona 4, and combine them with a ton of those beloved digital monsters, in the franchise’s latest game: Digimon Story: Cyber Sluth. It certainly had my interest peaked from the get-go, but is this entry a glorious nostalgia trip and reminder of what I loved about the series in my childhood, or a reminder of why I fell off the bandwagon to begin with?

In Cyber Sleuth you take on the role of a teenage boy or girl in Tokyo, Japan with access to a virtual world called EDEN. Much like the internet, EDEN allows people to log in to do things  to hang out with friends from all over the world, or go to virtual workplaces. A “hacker” breaks into this world and invites everyone to come meet him in one of EDEN’s seedier corners with the promise of a reward. Naturally, our hero and a number of key cast members go to check it out and end up finding themselves caught up in all sorts of trouble, discovering Digimon and also being attacked by a crazy monster. They end up having their digital selves separated from their real life bodies and are saved by a mysterious detective… and while that all seems like a lot to take in, it works out a lot better in execution. Overall, the plot does a really good job at feeling like a full season of the Digimon TV show, with multiple story arcs ( some of which are better than others) all while continuously progressing the overarching plot. However, that plot is full of most of your stereotypical anime tropes, but it works and keeps you compelled to keep pushing forward. That said, the localisation is a bit patchy, with quite a number of awkward sentences that barely make sense, although you can still get the gist of what


Mechanically, Cyber Sleuth is your stereotypical RPG with turn-based menu driven combat, random encounters and plenty of statistics and numbers. While most random enemies are fairly easy, certain boss fights suddenly up the difficulty quite drastically, especially if you don’t have the correct type of Digimon on you, which may result in you having to grind from time to time. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with traditional JRPG’s. On the one hand, I do enjoy the sense of character development a leveling system provides and some of the strategy behind the moves you use, but  on the other, I also hate having to halt progress to grind or go find a shop to stock up on healing items just to get through one particularly difficult boss, as I feel it just ruins the games pacing. I also want to mention that if you ever get a game over screen, you will be sent all the way back to your last save point, which given how spaced-out they are, could potentially be from a few hours ago. You could argue that the player should be saving regularly to prevent this, however it’s easy to get caught up and forget, so some sort of check point system would have been appreciated.

The way the Digimon are handled is actually fairly unique in comparison to other creature collecting titles. For starters “capturing” Digimon is done simply by battling the same creature a certain number of times until you “sync” with it. In one way it’s great as it keeps the focus on simply defeating enemies, although it can result in a lot of grinding in order to sync with a specific Digimon you were after. Digivolving is interesting for a number or reasons. For starters, Digimon have multiple evolution paths, giving you more choice in what your Digimon becomes. You can also devolve your Digimon, meaning that if you make a decision you regret you can easily reverse it.  You can also devolve it into something completely different, which in turn gives you another set of options when you evolve it again.  This allows you to obtain some rarer Digimon through a combination of evolving and devolving a Digimon multiple times. Devolving your Digimon also acts a bit like “prestiging”, allowing you to improve your Digimon’s overall stats for re-leveling them all over again. Another great feature is the Digi-Farm. Rather than just letting Digimon who aren’t in your party sit in a box doing nothing (which for the record, you can do) you can have them training to gain experience, creating items for you to use in battle or find new side missions for you to take part in. Overall, it’s a fleshed out and deep system that still manages to be simple to grasp compared to some of the games contemporary counterparts.


My one issue regarding the Digimon is how they relate to “hacking” abilities. Hacking abilities are basically moves the player character uses in the world in order to get past certain obstacles that typically act as roadblocks in the story (similar toPokemon HM’s).For some reason, certain hacking abilities will require you to have certain types, level or quantity of Digimon in your party to use. Fortunately, with a party size of 11, it isn’t hard to meet the requirements, but it seems like an arbitrary and weird restriction to put on the player.

Of course this game isn’t just about Digimon, it’s also about being a cyber sleuth! What does that mean? Well mostly it means at certain points in the game you need to undertake investigations to get information you need to progress, which sounds very cool on paper, but in practice isn’t as exciting. You see, investigations typically just boil down to talking to a bunch of specially marked NPC’s until one of them tells you what you need to do to progress, completely forgoing any need for the player to actually deduce anything in the way you would expect a detective would. Honestly, simplifying this system so much is a real shame.
While the main campaign can be completed in about thirty hours, which already makes it a fairly lengthy title, you can potentially play the game for dozens more hours thanks to plenty of side content in the form of “cases’. In your base of operations there is a noticeboard where new cases will be posted for you to take on as you progress through the campaign, with more cases to be found in the overworld and from your Digimon searching for new cases using the Digifarm. The cases can be a bit hit & miss in terms of how enjoyable they are and most of the time they boil down to either partaking in an aforementioned investigation or some sort of fetch quest and culminate in a battle with some Digimon. I have to say, they do a great job of at least providing you the opportunity to level up your Digimon in a somewhat more interesting fashion than just grinding. My one real complaint is once you start a case, you cannot take on any other cases until it is completedand if you take on a boring case, you can’t just cancel it and try a more interesting one. During the game you will also get text messages from your Digimon and in-game friends which you can reply to. It doesn’t add much to the overall gameplay, but it is a nice little feature that makes the world feel a little more real. When you boot up the game, you will also see there is a blanked out New Game + option that will unlock upon completing the game, giving you a significantly more difficult version of the game to replay.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sluth also has an online multiplayer mode where you take your team of digital monsters online to battle players around the world.  However, whenever I tried to connect to it I was bombarded with network errors that prevented me from ever having a successful match. Another writer on staff also had similar issues, but at present we’re unsure whether the problems are on our end or server-side.

As a warning, this is through-and-through a Vita game… You can buy it for and play it on PS4, but visually do not expect more than a Vita game blown out to display on your TV. Blurry textures and flat facial expressions are rampant, but fortunately the brightly coloured anime art-style helps make these blemishes less bothersome. I found the design of most of the areas of the game to be quite bland, specifically the digital locations, which you would think should be some of the most interesting, but they just have dull generic backgrounds and maze-like layouts. The Digimon, however, are the exception, and you can tell real attention and effort has been put in to making them look and feel like they were pulled straight out of the anime. The music is overall fairly forgettable other than a couple of key themes. The voice acting is quite good in your typical, over the top anime kinda way. The game luckily chooses to keep the Japanese voice over, especially since they game is clearly set in Tokyo, making it feel more authentic.

I honestly enjoyed my time withDigimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. I was able to train a team of my favourite Digimon from my childhood in order to save the world, which is exactly what I want to do in aDigimongame. HardcoreDigimon fans or JRPG fanatics will have a great time with this game and be able to ignore many of the issues I raised. However, if you don’t fall in to one of those two niches, I don’t think you will be able to look past many of the game’s flaws or cumbersome design choices.


Fun story, excellent Digimon system, plenty of content


Some clunky design choices, low quality graphics, underutilised investigation elements

Overall Score: