Released on July 29, Digimon Survive is Bandai Namco’s latest bet on interactive narratives and role-playing games with a strategic component. It’s true that we can look at Digimon Survive and note the superiority of the two elements. If the interactive narrative sends the player to a passive role, the role-playing aspect is positioned as a gameplay element that manifests itself through battles involving strategy, positioning, and monster combinations.
It’s still a release that could go on with different productions, but it’s close to Live a Live and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. All are Japanese works somehow based on fairy tales with hints of fantasy and establish parallelism in the role-playing game. Interestingly, RPG fans and Japanese product enthusiasts will find something to their liking in this trio. Retro fans won’t pass up the opportunity to experience Live a Live’s remaster for the first time, while Xenoblade is the strongest and most bombastic dish of the trio, reserving Digimon Survive for adepts of narratives.
When it comes to Digimon Survive, there is no escaping the central dimension of the narrative, its strongest and most persistent element, to the point where it overshadows large stages of the game and practically relegates the player to a secondary and passive role. A reader who is attentive to the dialogue of young students transported to the world of monsters. This is where it’s important to clarify and note that the role-playing component on which battles are based, as well as exploration, is almost secondary and insignificant. Much of the time is spent in conversations that drag and tick at a very slow pace over time without major changes or moments of great tension. The quality of dialogues also leaves a lot to be desired. Characters often get lost in circular comments about the obvious before moving on to the next predictable point. In the short term and the long story, it’s normal that if you’re not a fan of these types of “visual novels” you’ll feel like this game has little or nothing to say to you.
Strange creatures that live in thick fog
Nor can it be said that the battles are the most developed. It’s nothing different from what you’ve experienced in other turn-based RPGs. In fact, the entire tactical and instrumental construction, although complex and based on several search possibilities, is quite predictable, and even from a graphical point of view, Digimon Survive cannot be more than average. However, even without the brilliant gameplay, it manages to provide a minimally compelling challenge if you’re willing to keep up, the battles require a lot of commitment. But the narrative passages that intersperse between the fights are long and sometimes quite painful, even though we have decisions that will affect the course of events and some mature themes. However, these are dialogues and dialogues with many vines and few grapes, some of which are not necessary for the development of events, but must be overcome.
Just to give you an idea, the prologue, which can last for two hours, contains only one battle, the final part, which lasts about 15 minutes and includes the statement of the main principles. Then there’s a whole set of other elements that we learn by exploring scenarios as if we were in an investigation game. But here everything is quite simple and always accompanied by large doses of dialogues or logical-deductive conclusions, experiments, small red dots indicating progress.
Entering the world of Kemonogami (small monsters called Digimon) occurs when a group of students, led by the main character and our character Takuma Momozuka, enter a temple where they come into contact with one of the mythological figures. The group leaves and while they are lost, they realize that there are monsters that protect and accompany them. It is these Digimon who enter the fray, using their special abilities and powers to defeat their rivals. In order to identify opponents who make strange noises and sounds, Takuma uses a kind of cell phone that projects distorted spaces.
Digivolve to win battles
The consequence of moving into the world of monsters is that it affects several characters in the group. With changes in the real world, the world of these creatures is covered in fog, and monsters have taken over the building of buildings that were previously inhabited by people. At the same time, there are changes in the relationship between the survivors of the group. It is up to the player to choose the best decisions, the line between good and bad is often not clear. In most cases, these are specific issues and decisions made by the surrounding circumstances. Studying scenarios and settings leads to more character and development knowledge. Between them, they fight and fight battles of great intensity in pre-designed grids that are often part and parcel of the narrative unfolding.
Battles take place in grids adapted to the elements of the scenario, raiding more than one enemy. The player chooses the Digimon to use based on their preferred alignment, defense, attack and support combination. Bonding with other characters is important because it allows you to access your monsters and use them in battle. With a turn-based system, Digimon can be moved based on their characteristics and then choose to attack or defend. Special abilities increase with creature level and equipment used. Many items are obtained at the end of the battle, but there are also objects scattered throughout the area.
Among the combat features, we highlight the exponential growth of creatures through Digivolving, an evolution process that makes them bigger, with the ability to deal more damage, but at the cost of movement and attack. Usually, this evolution serves as an additional card to finish a difficult battle or against a strong enemy. The strategic possibilities also expand from the moment you convince an opposing Digimon to join your group. These beings ask questions when we choose to speak, and if we answer according to their preferences, they may come to our side. If we talk to one of our Digimon, it serves as a boost to boost their response in battle.
While the battles are moments of great activity and action, despite the changes and additions to the more functional strategic dimension of turn-based combat, there’s nothing too different or inventive compared to what we’ve already experienced. And sometimes these battles are also drawn out, with a lot of movement on the grid due to the Digimon being limited in progress per turn, which can make battles very time consuming. Visually, it is far from surprising. The creature design is probably the most interesting aspect, as the backgrounds and arenas are pretty basic, but there’s no mention of special visual effects or special moves. With a combat system that isn’t above average and an abundant narrative and sometimes somewhat monotonous over-the-top dialogue segments, if you’re not a die-hard fan of the Digimon series, there aren’t many surprises left. There are other more engaging titles in the strategy role-playing game category and even in the “visual novels” category.