Twenty years ago, almost every child wanted one of those Digivices that allowed you to take care of your Digimon and battle it out with other people. You can argue that it’s a rip-off of the Tamagotchi but that’s not the point.
It was such a popular series that videogames based on it started to pop up. Some were great, others were downright horrible. But this one in particular will make you feel like you’re taking a trip down memory lane. Let’s take a look at the latest Digimon game to hit the PlayStation 4 — Digimon World: Next Order.
WORLD IN CHAOS
Digimon World: Next Order follows one of two protagonists to be chosen by players. Takuto (male) or Shiki (female) were once passionate Digimon fans and runners-up in a major Digimon tournament that took place several years prior to the game’s story. Their passion began to fade as they entered adolescence.
But they put on the Digivice again once for old times’ sake, and suddenly find themselves transported into the Digital World where they meet their Digimon partners for the first time. Suddenly, a Machinedramon ambushes them and a battle ensues. After the Machinedramon is subdued, it transforms into Tokomon, one of the protagonists’ partners who is reborn.
Turns out, the Digital World is facing impending chaos as its guardians have ceased operations and certain Digimons have been corrupted and forcibly Digivolved into Machinedramons. It’s up to the protagonists to discover the mystery behind the odd occurrences and save Digital World.
A CLASSIC GAME REBORN
Unlike the more recent Digimon RPG that came out, Digimon World: Next Order employs a system that is more akin to the original Digimon World game on the PlayStation 1.
Players have to grow and take care of their Digimon like a beloved pet. These include feeding, training them at the gym, and more. The reference to the original Digimon World game is made even more obvious with the return of the Meat Farm.
The tough part about Digimon World: Next Order is that your Digimons have a finite life. When they pass away, they will be reborn and you will have to start growing them back from scratch. They will always be stronger than their predecessors but the idea of grinding their growth all over again can be very tiring. We’re talking from Baby stage all the way to its Mega evolution, which you won’t even reach until at least the third generation.
Battles can be dull as well as you’re not directly in control of your Digimons. The Digimons will automatically fight and execute commands by themselves while you, as their tamer, are allowed to give orders up to a limit. That limit is the known as Order Points (OP).
OP can be gained via the support command, which refreshes every few seconds or so and generates a certain number of OP depending on the Digimon’s affinity and the tamer’s skill. For most battles, you can pretty much leave your Digimon to do whatever it wants except for tough battles.
POOR SCRIPT A LETDOWN
If you think that following the main objective is very straightforward, you will be disappointed.
While your permanent objective is to get as many Digimons to join your city, there are times when you will not know where to go. The worst part is that in some areas you will have a mix of Digimons that you can battle with, with varying difficulties.
For example, the first area you’re definitely heading to early in the game is Forest Path. In it, there’s a Level 3 Aruraumon and Vegiemon. While Aruraumon is easy to handle, a lone Vegiemon is much stronger in comparison and is guaranteed to take down your entire team. Sure, you can go back to town and train your Digimon but believe me, this happens in various locations in-game as well, which can be frustrating. The difficulty can spike instantly in a single area and to the next.
The confusion continues. There are some quests that you cannot take unless you fulfil certain conditions. The worst part here is that not every quest giver will tell you what needs to be done first. In the case of the Leomon quest to take down the Vege Army, he gives you an ambiguous order to seek information on the Vege Army. You have to complete three side quests located nearby before you can truly accept Leomon’s quest. This poor writing can leave players feeling lost.
As far as visuals are concerned, this isn’t like a photorealistic Digimon game where everything looks true to life. It still retains the same cartoony look, albeit with more pleasing visuals, thanks to Full HD resolution. If you take the original Digimon World game, remaster it into a Full HD game, and include a third-person camera perspective while walking around the world map, you’ll get Digimon World: Next Order.
This is even true in the loading screen where it’s just a black background with white text, which is very similar to the original Digimon World game. That, and the camera perspective while walking around the city is a clear homage to it, which Bandai Namco is doing to bring an element of nostalgia to the game. In essence, the visuals are dated but there’s nothing wrong in that as they still look good.
Overall, Digimon World: Next Order is a fun game despite some quirks that can leave players feeling stressed out. Chances are that players will be spending most of their time in-game training their Digimon because some battles, even the main storyline one, can be very difficult. If the game had better writing and the difficulty doesn’t spike as badly as it does right now, it would actually make for a much better game.
This game will be more suitable on a mobile platform, be it on a smartphone or a handheld gaming device like the PS Vita, rather than a PlayStation 4.
While the original Japanese version is available for both the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, the English version is exclusive to the PS Vita, which is a shame because it’s a platform that will make the game shine.
I would give Digimon World: Next Order a 6/10 rating.
• A brand new Digimon game that brings the series back to its roots.
• Life and Death system give players more room to experiment with Digimons.
• Growing and taking care of your Digimon is surprisingly fun.
• Is considered a direct sequel to the original Digimon World game.
• A game that plays out for a long duration just like most role-playing games.
• Confusing writing will cause players to feel lost to fulfil quests requirements.
• Difficulty that can spike from area to area which can leave players feeling frustrated.
• Requires a lot of mindless grinding at the Digimon gym, especially when reborn.
• A passive battle system where players aren’t directly in control of their own Digimons.