Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Tested on: PlayStation 4
Digimon World: Next Order – Review
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth came out in February of last year and that game got quite good reviews. Finally, after all the drab Digimon games it seems that the streak of bad games has been broken. With Digimon World: Next Order hot on its heels, it looks like the previous game wasn’t just a hit and miss, but Bandai Namco is on to something. If this game is successful, this might lead to Digimon getting some more love, and after all those years, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
If you aren’t a fan of the lore of the Digital World of Digimon, then you might not want to pick up this game. Don’t worry about it, if that’s what’s stopping you. The game is a perfect standalone story wise and it’s rather easy to get into. You are sucked into the Digital World after you booted up a Digivice. Upon entering the Digital World, you are assailed by a giant hulking monstrosity called Machinedramon. It’s unknown why the Machinedramon are so aggressive and this is just the start of the mystery. The game slowly raises the stakes by unraveling the mystery, successfully keeping the story interesting. Characters aren’t all immediately introduced. The protagonists are a bit of a hit and miss, either you like them or you dislike them, but other than that, they act like your usual JRPG characters.
The problem the protagonist has, and the humans he encounters during his travels, is that they are looking for a way back into the real world. To be fair, the plot feels done to death as in the old school Digimon World 3, players were stuck in the Digital world, too. The only difference here is the scope and the execution. In Digimon World 3 there were a lot of players stuck, in Digimon World: Next Order it’s only a handful of people. In Digimon World 3 the players were there on their own volition and got stuck that way, in the latest iteration however they were sucked in against their will.
Digimon World: Next Order is made in the Unity Engine. This seems to be the go to engine for smaller titles and though this game isn’t exactly a ten minute long game, the engine does suit the title quite nicely. The thing is that Digimon World: Next Order doesn’t need hyper-realistic graphics as the game is based on the anime/manga. There really isn’t a need for an engine like the Unreal engine which is suited to really dig its heels into the graphical power of the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. Could a photo-realistic Digimon game be made? Yes, and Bandai Namco certainly has the means to do so, but it’s quite certain that it wouldn’t fly. It’s no use trying to change the medium upon which the games are based. It might lead to a different demographic picking up your game, but it might also not and also ostracize your fans.
There are some really cool graphical cues. One of them being when your Digimon need to go to the toilet. If you make it in time, you are treated to a sign of a rocket ship shooting off. Ignore your Digimon and they’ll be forced to take a dump in the wild or worse yet, in the training gym. The cue for this is a sign with ‘Booo…’ which invokes disgust.
When it comes to the actual world of Digimon World: Next Order, there’s a lot to behold. It would be easy to just copy paste textures and make a lot of samey environments. If you know what you are doing and train your Digimon accordingly, you’ll manage to check off missions quite easily and be treated to a variety of environments. From the grassy fields of the starting area, to barren deserts, or even a volcano, which is aptly dubbed the ‘firewall’. These environments have one thing in common, they are all quite vibrant, just not to the point that they feel too out of place.
During battle it’s unclear whether or not your attacks are going to hit or if they are going to whiff. This can lead to confusion and frustration as you aren’t really sure whether or not the attacks are coordinated with the damage output.
Digimon World: Next Order has some really nice voice overs. At the start of your new adventure, you can choose your own name, and this is calculated into the conversations. Where most adventure games shy away from using voice overs with your own character’s name in place, Digimon World: Next Order embraces it. This doesn’t mean that the characters will actually pronounce your name, it will appear on the screen but they’ll use a pronoun or omit your name altogether. The fact that this doesn’t make the voice overs sound redundant or lacking shows off the work the developers put into it.
Whenever you enter a new area you’ll be greeted by a tune, that is during the day time, because when you wander around at night you’ll most likely only hear the silence this time evokes. The tunes themselves range from very upbeat to soothing and some of them can be rather annoying as they loop quite quickly.
Digimon World: Next Order is an action/adventure JRPG for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. When you start, the awesome ultimate Digimon and the EXE Digivolution are shown off, which looks really cool, after which you are sent to the start of your adventure. The annoyance is that you lose your overpowered Digivolved friends and get weaker ones -by far- in their place. There isn’t however a better way to catch a player’s attention.
When you start, you are given a small shove in the back by way of getting you started, and whatever information you need can be learned by speaking to the other Digimon in Floatia -the starting area. This way of tutoring does the exact opposite of the intro to the game, it makes the game lurch to a screeching halt. We prefer being shown, rather than being told, as it works better when it comes to teaching a player the basics. As a result you might be wandering around aimlessly for hours before you understand what it is you are supposed to do. Longtime fans of JRPG’s jump in immediately and won’t skip a beat, but when it comes to newer players to the genre, it might deter them. When you do however bite through the first couple of hours of searching you’ll find a game that’s rife with content.
Combat wise, you’ll engage in combat when you come into contact with another Digimon, at which point your Digimon and the enemy or enemies enter a battle ring where they’ll attack each other or dodge each other’s attacks. Even though the game boasts a real time function, you aren’t actually in control of the Digimon in the sense that you are capable of more than ordering them to attack or use boosting moves. So when it comes to actual skill and making your Digimon dodge and weave through enemy attacks to land a blow, you’ll be left wanting. A shame really because it would add a layer of depth to the combat mechanics.
You can train your Digimon if you notice they aren’t really doing that much damage. Doing so costs time and after a certain amount of days your Digimon dies. They die, but that isn’t the end of it, as you’ll be able to pick another starting Digimon or the same if you so desire. You’ll then have to go through the motion again of training them to unlock the higher Digivolutions. There’s a lot of Digimon to unlock and to train so getting all of them will take a good chunk of your time, but there’s no use in complaining about the abundancy of content if it’s finely crafted.
The quests you’ll go through during the storyline feel more like fetch quests, go here, battle said enemy, get item, go to other place, drop off items, battle some more. It doesn’t really stray from that formula.
There is an online mode, however it really feels tacked on. You can pick your Digimon and let them battle another player, and if you win you get points which you can use to buy certain items. It isn’t really fleshed out and has a very gimmicky touch to it. There’s just your Digimon in an 8 bit sprite moving a little, then a pop up text whether or not you’ve won and that’s it. Could do with the real time battle treatment the rest of the game sports.
Digimon World: Next Order is the second Digimon game on the current generation of PlayStation consoles. Again Bandai Namco seemed to have taken it upon themselves to breathe new life in an anime adaptation. If you are looking for a decent JRPG or a Digimon game worth your time and you’ve played through the previous entry, then be sure to pick this one up. If, however, you are looking for something to breeze through and have a little more variety when it comes to different gameplay modes and styles, then this won’t scratch your itch.