Bandai Namco’s Digimon strategy game is coming out on July 28, it looks rad, here’s why
Combining the lengthy prose of visual novels with strategic roleplaying elements makes for an unconventional mix, yet games like the Fire Emblem series and Vanillaware’s 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim have done it to critical acclaim. The Digimon franchise has been publicly attempting to throw its hat in that ring since 2018, but it’s only now we’re seeing the fruits of their efforts.
Digimon is a franchise about raising monsters that exist in cyberspace. Starting off as an edgier alternative to Tamagotchi (its sister franchise), It has since become a many-headed multimedia beast like its omnipresent rival, Pokémon. However, while sharing the main target demographic with Nintendo’s premiere monster collecting IP, the deep lore that developed had more in common with the Shin Megami Tensei series. Like SMT, the monsters in Digimon are a product of human cognition, and especially like Persona, Digimon places the focus on the human character’s personal issues, their character development, and eventual self-actualisation. This is what makes the premise of Digimon Survive so tantalising: a variety of youths with different temperaments and backgrounds find themselves in the digital world with allocated Digimon partners, and to survive they will have to make some ethical decisions where the wrong choices will mean a member of the group will die. It’s a more mature take on the general formula of the anime, whereas previous Digimon games have been closer in spirit to a darker Pokémon adventure where you stockpile creatures and explore a world that revolves around animal abuse.
The game is split into several distinct gameplay modes. The “Drama Parts” are the visual novel segments where you interact with characters and progress the plot. “Search Action” involves looking for ways to survive, i.e. food, shelter, medicine. The “Free Action” segments are when you make decisions within a small window of time. Choices include who to talk to during the Drama Parts or where to go for Search Action parts. Finally, “Free Battle” allows you to engage in combat with enemy Digimon and collect useful items.
Digimon Survive was announced in the July 2018 issue of V Jump for release on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Since then, it was also confirmed that it would be available on Xbox and PC, but the game had been met with a series of delays for reasons varying from a change in the engine to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has since had its developer change from Witchcraft to Hyde. This troubled production has nurtured fears that the game may never be released, despite a trailer being released last month and detailed information about the game being revealed at Digimon Con. In the time it has taken for Digimon Survive to get a release date, Pokémon Legends Arceus could have been announced and released three times.
Now, leaks from the new issue of V Jump have revealed the game’s Japanese release date to be the 28th July 2022. The date is a week after the Live A Live remake’s release and months before the expected release window of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, in late 2022. I myself never doubted the game would be finished in some capacity. Digimon is doing pretty good right now: the Digimon Ghost Game anime currently airing and is looking to be the best one since Tamers, there’s a popular card game with a healthy player base, and a new movie based on the 02 anime is currently in production. It makes sense for Bamco to make the most of the resources they have already invested in rather than scrapping it in favour of a less engaging premise.
As revealed by the game’s producer Kazumasa Habu, Digimon Survive will have 113 trainable Digimon, 12 chapters, and at least 3 40-hour branching paths, in addition to New Game Plus. It sounds like it will be a robust single-player experience that will capture the spirit of the anime. Even if it doesn’t fulfill its promise of having wildly different storylines, the different Digimon evolution (or digivolution, they really liked making portmanteaus in the localisation) paths you’ll be able to experiment with will likely be worth the price of admission for fans. Whether it will be released soon after the Japanese release date, or 2 years after, I think we all know who to attribute the game’s continued existence to:
A flamboyant ultra nerd, Dave participates in the Underlevelled Tournament both for the thrill of the fight, and to avenge the orphans lost in the climax of the previous tournament.
Hobbies: street dance, collecting manga volumes, reading, editing
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