After numerous delays and developer shake-ups, Digimon Survive is finally here! With all this time in development hell, is there any way the latest addition to the Digimon franchise can possibly survive the fandom’s expectations?
What’s the deal with Digimon Survive?
Digimon Survive is a dark reimagining of the whole Digimon experience. Drawing heavily from the original anime series, this adventure sees a bunch of kids on a school trip sucked into a mysterious world filled with monsters. These Digimon comes in all shapes and sizes, varying wildly between adorable and nightmarish.
It’s down to the children and their new partners to survive this hostile world they’ve found themselves in. But this won’t be a walk in the park. Characters can and will die, whether they be humans or Digimon. It’s down to you and your team to tread carefully through this dangerous terrain.
What’s the gameplay like?
Digimon Survive is primarily a visual novel, breaking away from its previous gaming entries, with strategy RPG elements peppered throughout. After the fairly lengthy introduction, the game manages to balance the visual novel and combat gameplay really well.
As someone who really doesn’t like visual novels in general, I was a little scared of this game going in. However, both the pacing and writing are excellent, more than enough to make me forgive the genre. There are so many Digimon to battle and collect in the wild that it’s easy to just explore for hours rather than progress the plot if you need a break from the constant conversations.
Choose your own adventure
Choice is a massive element of this game. Almost every conversation will present a series of choices for the player, and while they vary in their significance, they all add up to your alignment scores.
Making friends fast is one the most important things you can do. As the title implies, not everyone is going to make it out alive. If there’s someone you like you better get friendly, and fast.
Your relationships are determined by an affinity meter with each character. Get them high enough and you’ll unlock extra events and scenes that could be the very thing that determines their fate.
While the start of the game gives you plenty of time to talk to everyone, things quickly get more intense. You’ll eventually have less and less time to spend, so think carefully about who you give your precious free time to.
At the same time, all your Moral, Wrathful, and Harmonious choices are measured constantly, and these can have a significant impact on your story. Not only do entire scenes change based on your actions, the forms your Digimon friends take vary wildly too.
Become too angry and your friendly Agumon might become a scary Tuskmon. But if you’re too pacifistic you might get Tyrannomon instead of the classic Greymon. Every stage of your evolution can vary wildly based on how you’ve been interacting with the world, and this adds a tonne of replayability.
Easy on the eyes and ears
The stunning art style of the main visual novel story is wonderful. The humans and Digimon alike are beautifully animated, really helping to bring the script to life. All this is underlined by a powerful musical score, packed to the brim with memorable tracks that already feel nostalgic just a few days after the launch.
The backgrounds are nothing to snub your nose at either, the haunting decrepit style of the world really adding to the sense of fear and confusion, especially as more and more out-of-place locations are explored.
The combat features an entirely different, more adorable aesthetic, depicting all the Digimon and humans as delightfully cute models. These bouncy cartoonish versions really make the most of their animations, looking wonderful as they scamper across the map to unleash their devastating attacks.
How accessible is the game?
This game involves a lot of reading, and is not without the odd misnamed monster or loose spelling mistake here and there. That aside, there are a lot of choices to help relieve those who might want a faster experience. There are plenty of adjustments you can make to the text and game speed, adding automatic progression, along with a very handy skip button for when you’re back for your second playthrough.
The controls themselves are clearly designed for consoles rather than PC, so it took a little time to get comfortable, but after a while it became second nature. Whilst the game is fully voiced, it’s only in Japanese. Those looking for an English cast may be disappointed.
Digimon Survive is wonderful, and is by far the definitive Digimon adventure for the modern age. It manages to make an entirely self-contained story that anyone could pick up and get invested in, while also making endless references and homages to series gone by for an eagle-eyed fan on the lookout.
There are just so many lovely little features that kept surprising me. For example, the menu will continue to add characters as you meet them, and remove any that die as you progress through the game.
If you already like Digimon there’s no excuse not to pick up this game. Even as someone who doesn’t like visual novels, the writing is infinitely better than anything we’ve seen from the franchise in years, deconstructing and developing tired tropes that we’ve seen time and time again.
As a non-fan, you’ll have to decide if the visual novel genre is for you. If you enjoy making moral choices and dealing with the risk of party deaths, like you might have tried in a game like Telltale’s Walking Dead, and have a tolerance for anime visuals this may be right up your alley.
You don’t need any previous knowledge of Digimon, and even with my own extensive history with the franchise there were still plenty of twists I didn’t see coming because the story was just that compelling.
Tested on a PC featuring:
i5-9400F CPU @ 2.90Ghz
Featured Image Credit: Supermassive Games