Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: “She’s had her body digitized, she hasn’t had a sex change” #BlameKurata

So... this week's review has tentacle monsters, clothing designs that raise more questions then answers in terms of usefulness, a tentacle monster that evolves to use a teenage girl as a energy weapon, and was made in Japan. I swear this isn't a hentai. This one was recommended to me by a store clerk when I was picking up another Digimon game, Digimon All Star Rumble. Once I finished with Shantae, I gave it a shot, just for a different style of RPG. And… well it is different, at least for me, forewarn I haven’t played Atlus RPG’s so if some of these feel tamed by comparison to it, you don’t need to bring it up, I’ve heard. I’ll be using the PSVita version for review, and there is free DLC and themes for the game, should you be into those.

Starting with the story. Entities known as Eaters are infecting a place known as EDEN, a Virtual reality equivalent of the Internet. Because of the Eaters, people have been getting infected with EDEN Syndrome, a condition that puts your body into a coma because the Eater has eaten your mental data, which is taken from your physical body each time you enter EDEN. You, as the player, have been infected with EDEN Syndrome, but you were able to escape Eden before an Eater could eat all of your mental data, which thanks to external forces trying to fuse the Real world and the Digital world, which here is another universe that has also been infected with Eaters, into one universe, has given you a half biological, half digital body, turning your avatar, which in this universe seems to be more relaxed about real life identities because while it says that you can customize your avatars, all avatars look exactly like the person in the real world, well, in this context… this is going to get confusing fast… Your Digivice, which in this universe is how you access EDEN, has been fitted with a Digimon capture app, and with Digimon appearing in the EDEN System, albeit on the more darker areas of it (You’ll see it here next Monday, but on the Mediaholics Youtube channel, there is a reason why the description for the song “Dashing through Kowloon” compares Kowloon to 4chan) and with new employment found as a Cyber Sleuth, it’s up to you to find a cure to EDEN Syndrome, and stop the greater forces at play, including some of the Royal Knights wanting to kill all humans because they believe humans are the cause of the Eaters eating the Digital world, and a scientist who’s trying to fuse the two universes for his own personal gain. Throw in the older Digidestined, and the fact that this scientist bares a lot of similarities with Kurata, and I’m getting a lot of Digimon Data Squad flashbacks.

The only issue I have with the story goes into the gameplay, in that the difficulty has a lot of newb traps in it, many for the sake of the plot. There are many “But thou must lose” battles where I’d have rather a cutscene because one or two are fine, as they can show how threatening the opponent is, but around the middle of the story the game will use them a lot. One of which did actually let me damage the enemy, a higher form of Eaters known as Eater Eve, it was a damage sponge, ripping my team in half, I almost had it killed, and then a cutscene played, not letting me have the loot and experience I wanted. That one was the worst of it because not only are Eaters always damage sponges, but they have no weaknesses, and many love to have OKO moves, one even had a move that disabled all my active Digimon’s special moves at the start of the battle, making an already long fight go for even longer. The game’s difficulty curves also mean the game expects you to grind, especially because of the mechanics for Digivolution, I’ll get back to that one, but the problem with that is that there are never really any good points to grind because unless you have two Neutral Digimon, allowing you to force encounters, the standard encounter rate is pretty small. Either the RNG gods were smiling on me, or being jerks to me, but there were times where I went on large stretches without encounters.

The basic battle mechanics are solid, with the best way to describe it being Pokemon Triple battles with two layers of Rock Paper Scissors combat, one for the element (Fire, water, thunder ect) and one for the type (Data, Vaccine, Virus or Neutral). You also have a standard attack and special moves that you can customize out of battle, that use power points. You can have up to 11 Digimon with you at any time, with three in combat. Each Digimon gains experience when you battle, but only the three in the battle will get boosts to their Friendship points, one per battle, allowing you to easier perform combo attacks, which are random at best. You can’t really mess up most stats for Digimon, as all you need to do is level up more then the original level requirement to get the stats needed to Digivolve if required. Now, on that note, how does Digivolution work? Well, like in the show, the higher state you’re in (Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, ect) The stronger you are. But you have a finite amount of space in your storage boxes and party, and bigger Digimon need more space, so it becomes a balancing act of if you want stronger Digimon, or more Digimon. Don’t worry, there are expansion upgrades. As you Digivolve or De-Digivolve, you raise a stat called the ABI stat, WHICH CAN F*!) RIGHT OFF! I hate this stat. Ok, as I said earlier, you need specific stats to achieve some Digivolutions. Two problems, first, the ABI stat is used for some, especially Ultimate to Mega level, and it can only be boosted through Digivolution and De-Digivolution, so if you don’t have a high enough ABI, back to grinding with you, and send them back to bouncing between early stages until its high enough. This pissed me off because of a few big examples, all of them going from Ultimate to Mega. A lot of my party didn’t match the ABI requirements late into the game, forcing me to do a lot of grinding, Palidramon being the worst of them all because not only did I have to go back, if you DNA Digivolve, you only get one of the two used back. Not to mention, when you change formes, you go back to Level 1 every time, and the higher the stage you want to go, the harder the requirements are, which can mess you up because unless you’ve seen the species, what Digimon you get when you Digivolve or De-Digivolve is hidden until you do it. Example: If you had an Agumon and wanted GeoGreymon but got Greymon, you have to go back to Agumon, which will take you back to level 1, and try again. There are ways around it, as DNA Digivolutions and Digivolutions that need items are a clear tell who you’re going to get, but that only helps so much.

Also, not all Digimon are in the game, there are many that are missing. Most of the anime Digimon are here like the partners, mukes and villains. But not all of them. Only three DigiArmor eggs are in the game, being Courage, Destiny and Miricles. All the others aren’t here meaning the Digimon that need them aren’t here either. The Spirits from Digimon Frontier? Missing. Some Digimon are also missing some of their evolutionary lines, like Lopmon. To compare it to Pokemon, at least all the Pokemon are inside Sun and Moon, and it’s possible to get all of them. There’s no way to get all the Digimon in Cyber Sleuth to my knowledge.

One technical issue I have is Localization. This feels like a game localized quickly for the sake of a quick buck. I played as the female avatar, Ami, because I thought her design was better than the males one, and I do have to say not in “that” way for a reason, more on that later. A thing I have gone on record saying to friends? “She’s had her body digitized, she hasn’t had a sex change”. The game forgot to localize the female avatar specific wording, as characters would at times refer to Ami as a male, and it makes some cutscenes interesting, as there was one mission where a sales person was trying to sell me a life like (also known as a model reuse) a character known as Nokia. Because I was Ami, he came off as thinking Ami was a guy who thought with her pelvis. Nothing against same sex couples, not saying Ami’s not a Lesbian, just that the game didn’t. Another thing would have to be character designs, as in standard anime fashion, the girls are all wearing clothes that would make you question how comfortable they are, and are completely impractical. Number one example would be Nokia, who I swear is only wearing a third of a dress. It’s supposed to be a dress that has string bridging gaps between two pieces of fabric, one for the front, one for the back. But because she’s wearing a Jacket which may as well be the back of her dress, you can see why I say that… right? Also, side not, going back to the story, Nokia’s a cheater. You’ve had those moments in games right where something to do with the story has gone against the mechanics of the game? Well, Nokia has an Agumon and a Gabumon. First battle, they Digivolve into Wargreymon and Metal Garurumon, at level 50. At this point I only had ultimates so I called cheater then, especially because to Digivolve in the game, you have to go to an easily accessible “Digi-Lab”. Next battle you see her do, she fuses them into Omnimon. Not only does she break the rules of the game once, she does it twice in a row. That’s bu**@)!^. The character designs are a to each their own thing, you’re either going to enjoy them, preferably in a tamed way, or you’re not. Will say though that the other side of the presentation, the music, is really good. Dashing through Kowloon isn’t the only song from Cyber Sleuth that made it into the playlist.
Ok, here's another example. Who goes to work but forgets to wear pants, and a bra? I swear this isn't a porn game

The best way to describe Cyber Sleuth would be that its easy, but loves its difficulty spikes, almost to an obscured point. When a DemiDevimon is as hard to take out as two forms of Starmon and a Justimon barely a few chapters later, if that, you have a bad difficulty curve. The game itself was still fun, as I did enjoy the story, and kept playing just for the story. But the missions are easy, most side quests are mandatory for completion, and the games love of damage sponges and “But thou must lose” moments bring the game down several notches. Good for beginners to Digimon, provided game balance is tighter in other entries. I’m pushing the Adventures review foreward a week, so the Emerald Arc is next week, because the week after, I’m going back to Hyrule. All aboard the hype train!
Yeah all these screenshots come from the PS4 version. If you had to choose between the two consoles purely on visuals, be honest, which would you pick?

Oh yeah, totally not the bad guy by the way, I'm just going to call him Kurata 2.0

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