Digimon Survive is out right now for PS4, but you may have noticed that we don’t have a review here on Push Square yet. This is unfortunately due to issues outside of our control, but having sunk roughly six hours into the game, we thought that it would be best to bring you some hands on impressions ahead of the aforementioned review.
As the headline of this article suggests, we’re a little bit torn on Digimon Survive so far. The opening couple of hours are incredibly slow as the title lays the groundwork for its story — introducing the main characters and establishing the kind of relationships that they have with one another. Indeed, this is a visual novel first and foremost, but we’ve found ourselves wishing that there was more monster-on-monster action.
The story starts with a bunch of Japanese high school students on a field trip out in the countryside, but things go sideways when the gang stumbles across an old shrine dedicated to deity-like beasts. You can probably guess what happens next — especially if you’re already familiar with Digimon as a franchise.
That’s right, the kids end up trapped in an alternate reality where the titular creatures and their strange powers reign supreme. We must admit that our interest in the narrative up until this point was beginning to wane — on a surface level the characters come across as stereotypical, and the dialogue is a bit longwinded — but once Agumon and his digital pals show up, things get much more entertaining.
Agumon — the yellow dinosaur digimon who’s something of a mascot — isn’t just an effective tool to be used in the title’s turn based combat. He’s a central part of the story, alongside other friendly digimon who are introduced within the opening chapters. This is something of a fresh dynamic as far as Digimon games go, as the personalities of the monsters themselves are rarely explored outside of the animated shows. Agumon and his allies are all voiced in Digimon Survive, and you can’t help but enjoy their quirky, inquisitive natures.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this reportedly 30-ro-so hour adventure unfurls, even if some of the game’s exploration elements already feel tedious. In typical visual novel fashion, you’re often able to move between locations in order to talk to specific characters, or investigate the surrounding environment. Traversal is thankfully menu-based, but there’s still a lot of backtracking to be done in order to push the plot along, inch by inch.
And it’s this somewhat awkward structure that gets in the way of Digimon Survive’s strategic battles. Story-based encounters have been very few and far between, which is a shame, because as is usually the case with Digimon games, the process of leveling up your monsters and expanding your team is a key selling point. We’re already addicted to seeing our digimon’s stats increase.
So, we’re hoping that dates become a little more combat-driven as the title continues. The system itself isn’t anything revolutionary — a digimon move on a grid, and each attack has unique properties — but it seems fairly well made, the animations are nice, and it’s easy to understand. Digivolution is also a factor — even at this early stage — as your partners can take on new forms to temporarily increase their power. With over 100 digimon to discover (according to the in-game database), it’s safe to say that we’re excited to see what’s next.
It’s clear that Digimon Survive has the potential to be a uniquely engaging Digimon title, what with its focus on player choice, character interaction, and tactical combat — but the pacing has to improve sooner rather than later. We get that visual novels can be a slow burn, and that’s fine, but in a game that’s asking you to engage in RPG elements like levelling up and collecting creatures, verbose dialogue and tedious exploration can quickly outstay their welcome.
Are you eyeing Digimon Survive? if all goes to plan, we’ll have a full review for you in the near future, but until then, let us know if Agumon’s set to be your best friend in the comments section below.