This game is definitely a mixed bag in my opinion. For starters, it’s very long. I’ve sunk hours into the game and barely scratch the surface of anything. It will be a strength or a weakness depending on your attitude. Another mixed part is that there is no English dub. Like most (if not all) Bandai Namco games, they use Japanese voice acting and you can then add subtitles in your language. Again, this is something that can be boring for some while others enjoy it. I’ll start my review with my cons and then end with what I consider to be pros.
The first downside I’m going to address is the tactical RPG aspect of Digimon Survive. The mechanics and combat system are good. They’re nothing fancy but aren’t terrible, except that some of Digimon’s key partners are basically useless due to how slow they are and how well their attacks work. I get that variety is good in these games, but when I go through multiple battles with Kunemon literally doing nothing due to how little movement he has and his attacks don’t have good range, I get frustrated. Also, the battles happen so infrequently that it’s a little disappointing. The game is marketed as “a hybrid visual novel and tactical RPG”, but the latter feels like it only takes up about 20% of the gameplay. I just wish that was a bigger part of the game. Also, while it’s nice that there’s an auto-combat option if you don’t like tactical combat or can’t deal with things for some reason I wish you could speed up auto combat and it’s not that great at figuring out the best moves.
Another aspect that I’m not a fan of is that you have three stats, Morale, Wrathfulness and Harmony, but the game doesn’t really explain them at any point other than a vague mention of how the choices you make will have a impact on how you work with others and others. Luckily, Attack of the Fanboy has a nice and very brief explanation of the Karma Points mechanic.
Third, I like the idea of being able to talk to opposing Digimon and potentially recruit them. I get angry when I feel like I’m shooting in the dark to get the right answers. There are times when I swear I have the correct answer based on the context, but I end up offending the Digimon and losing any chance of recruiting them. A little more refinement in this system would go a long way.
Where Digimon Survive shines in my opinion is the visual novel aspect. The story is very gripping and incredibly well done. The team has done a great job of making it more interactive than other games in the genre as well. You make decisions in conversations that influence your relationships with others, sometimes you have to pull out your camera to find hidden objects or monsters, sometimes you have some freedom in the order in which you interact with people, it there are places where you can just do free battles and improve that experience, and more. There are times when you just want to rush for the next battle, but overall the visual novel experience is enjoyable, which is great since you’ll be spending about 80% of your time there.
The art is also fantastic. Character design, settings, and just about everything visual in the game are positive. There are also animated cutscenes which are really fun and I wish there were more to help break the monotony of just having character portraits talking.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a tactical RPG, Digimon Survive is not the best choice. If you’re looking for a visual novel with some good interactive elements here and there and an engaging story, this game is solid for that. Yes, I wish the tactical RPG elements were a bit more prevalent or stood out more, but as it is, the game is fine if you have the right expectations. What is your experience with Digimon Survive has been?