It is with a certain nostalgia that we approached this Digimon Survive , announced by Bandai Namco in 2018 (already!). Where Pokémon will have become the success machine that we know, the ninth generation of which will soon be available , Digimon has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of the number of games released. Without going into an exhaustive comparison between the two sagas, Digimon will have been able to distinguish itself by its more adult tone, and its universe designed around “monsters” rather than around humans.
Digimon Survive was released this summer, a year later than originally planned, so why sulk? Even without being an avid fan of the saga, the
toxic chorus of the first animated series imposes itself on people’s minds every time the word Digimon appears. An unforgettable memory, without it being voluntary, like the effect that the game will have had on us. Little monster… You are so far from the champions.
The Walking Deademon
The game tells, oh surprise, the disappearance of a group of teenagers in a world similar to theirs, at least at first glance. During a school trip, they separate from the rest of their class to discover a mysterious abandoned shrine, which legends present as a former place of child sacrifice.
With such an introduction, it would have been so original and appreciable to see the license sink into the B series, but unfortunately, Digimon Survive does not take this side. On the contrary, the game tries to stay serious, tackling subjects relevant to the age of the protagonists (disappearance/death, the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world, the importance of learning to communicate despite our differences, etc. ), but loses the players in long hollow, redundant, even stupid dialogues at times.
With characters taking the cliché, some of which the death does not move in any way as they were horrifying, the game also misses the accuracy of its adolescent portraits, a material so rich, but very volatile. And that’s probably the biggest flaw of the game: spoiling its protagonists, when they are the very heart of the matter.
Digimon Survive also suffers from its artistic direction. The game is above all a visual novel , as producer Kazumasa Habu said last February, interspersed with tactical-RPG combat phases. Unfortunately, after so many years of development, it is impossible to justify such a poor graphic style, and non-existent animation (apart from very rare cinematics), pushing the vice to the point of letting us imagine actions and elements of the decor. by simply describing them in writing on a black screen. At that point, you might as well offer us a book/manga of which we are the hero.
Nor will the game be saved by its music. Apart from its main theme, which is rather appreciable, the sound loops are poorly designed and quickly annoying. Thus, each time you pass from one place to another (a frequent occurrence in certain narrative moments), the music will change without transition, and will resume from the beginning. Nothing worse to break the homogeneity of a story that does not shine through its narration.
Back to the video game narrative Cretaceous
The choice to make Digimon Survive a visual novel would have been relevant if the genre had been able to bring fresh air to the saga, or if the quality of the story had been satisfactory. Sadly, not only does the treatment of the characters fail, as we said earlier, but so does the background. The theme of makeover can be reinterpreted in many ways, but with a story that remains superficial, the game fails to do so. The refrain of evolutions resulting from emotions has not been modified since the beginning of the series, and we are tired of it.
The tactical-RPG aspect is far too light to enrich the game in any way , with a difficulty appropriate to its target audience: kindergarten children, well below its PEGI 12. Digimon Survive nevertheless borrows its different mechanics from cadors of the genre: different attack zones depending on the action, a variable relief of the terrain impacting the movements of the characters, a bar specifying the order of the actions of the turn, etc. The problem does not come from these strictly speaking, but from their interest. You will quickly determine the most mobile and powerful members of your team, and will be able to rely solely on them.
From then on, the fights are devoid of interest, apart from those against the bosses, as the power imbalance becomes absurd.
Fortunately, the developers thought of automating the game, in its fights as in its dialogues. Therefore, it is much more pleasant to progress in the story to achieve one of its four endings (depending on your answers at certain times in the game), the last of which will necessarily require a game in New Game Plus. However, one can not help but wonder who will have the will to embark on such an enterprise, when finishing the game once will have already proven to be far too long.