In recent years there have been a number of new Digimon titles. Where some have returned to the monster raising roots, others have explored different concepts. Cyber Sleuth is one centered around digital worlds that use digimon battles as a fun bonus. Where the first adventure was far from a masterpiece, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory has plenty to learn from and hopes to expand the spinoff. With cute girls, plenty of technological terms and the digimon we love, does Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory improve on the original or is it another attempt to cash in on the name?
The story starts with what could be a frightening premise and quickly makes it generic. A hacker has stolen your identity, something that makes you less trustworthy in this world, so you become a hacker yourself to track them down and bring them to justice. Your only clue to getting your identity back is a mysterious caller revealing the hacker, only to find out it was actually someone else. Upon learning your identity lies elsewhere, the quest continues.
If the basic premise doesn’t hook you, that’s fine, since much of the story is about helping other people, bringing justice to bad hackers and dealing with digimon. If there is a downside, it’s that the pacing makes it hard to stay interested.
With the first hour being devoted to explaining fairly simple concepts, especially if you’re familiar with Digimon and/or don’t care, it takes a while to establish the truly interesting things, like building a party, digivolution, and possibly getting your identity back. Even this would be better if the dialogue itself wasn’t so cheesy.
This is a shame, as it discourages players from finding the more enjoyable parts, such as raising digimon. In fact, it takes quite a while for combat to step into the forefront, with much of the first couple of hours being introductions, set up and tutorials on how to do things. Some of which is important, but most of it simply isn’t.
Once you’ve put in the time, battles are a mixed bag of fun and frustrating. At first the combat system is a long series of trading blows hoping you don’t lose. As long as you remember to use your skill(s) it will be alright, there just isn’t enough depth until sometime later and even then the basic difficulty isn’t high enough to make these choices terribly important.
Beyond being overly simple, the combat system feels counterintuitive. It isn’t enough to tap right and then select skills, you need to hold it otherwise it will pop back to the middle attack and that is what your digimon will do. This actually makes it easier to accidentally do the wrong thing as selecting skills requires another input, one you can back out of, making the need to do this feel out of place.
When you do get the hang of it, build a party and have more going on, it starts to become a better experience. As mentioned above, it never hits a point where you’ll regret choosing X or Y digimon or realize you ruined your build, something that is entirely possible in Pokemon, though that doesn’t mean you can sleepwalk through it either. There are certainly attacks that have different advantages and disadvantages, with it being important to plan accordingly. Taking advantage of combos, attack order and status effects can make or break a fight.
Where Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory hits a wall are choices. Often times it will feel like the story is on rails and the only thing you can control is how quickly you go from point A to B, maybe a dialogue choice or the order you do something. Those looking to just raise digimon or endlessly battle will have that, it will just be more of a side task than an actual requirement. This can make the story less interesting, as the stakes aren’t really there, no matter how often the story tells you this or that is a big deal.
In the end, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory feels a lot like the previous title. There is a story that you may or may not care about, with a digimon-esque raising, level and battling system thrown in. It isn’t exceptionally bad, nor is it good for that matter, just that you need to understanding it’s a fairly bland story surrounding and okay combat system. If this sounds fine or you loved the original, expect a good time with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory, though if you want another Digimon World: Next Order, you might want to wait for that.
[Editor’s Note: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]