Digimon World: Next Order Review
No matter what happens in your everyday life, somehow, the Digiverse will find a way to drag you back in, and this time the peril you will face is especially dangerous.
Digimon World: Next Order is a Digimon RPG-game developed by B.B. Studio and published by Bandai Namco for the PS Vita and Playstation 4. Only Japan got the PS Vita version in March 2016, but the PS4 version has been released internationally as of January 2017. It was first announced in V Jump Magazine in July 2015 with the release date of 2016 in Japan for the PS Vita. I must admit I was never aware that there had ever been made games of the Digimon franchise, as I never got the chance to get involved with the series. Let me tell you about my experience.
Digimon World: Next Order plunges you into the action fairly quickly. Before playing, you choose between the male or female protagonists; Takuto and Shiki, respectively. They were once passionate Digimon fans earlier in their years, even having participated and become runner-ups in the national tournament, but life happens, as so often it does, and they got distracted from their Digivices. After switching on their Digivices again, Takuto and Shiki get transported to the Digital World where they meet their Digimon two partners face-to-face. Takuto and Shiki are, naturally, taken aback and unsure of what has happened and why they are literally standing in Cyberspace, but their shock doesn’t last as they are assaulted by a Machinedramon, a mindless and aggressive Digimon hellbent on destruction. Takuto/Shiki then work together with his/her partners to take down the Machinedramon, but not without it taking a massive toll on them, and them having fallen as well after the fight.
When you wake up, you are greeted by a very old Digimon named Jijimon (which I’m guessing literally means “Old Man”-mon in Japanese), where you both swop stories about the events that have transpired that involve the Machinedramon appearances. He also tells you that your partners did not survive, but not to worry, because your partners will be reborn as new Digimon, as their essences get transferred into Digi-eggs. You then take over again and choose between 11 Digimon eggs that all contain Baby Digimons that you will train until they reach Rookie levels. Later, you learn more humans have been sucked into the Digiverse, and you work together with them, uniting the Digimons, and figuring out the mystery behind the Machinedramon, and putting an end to their threat.
Digimon World: Next World Order is set in an open-world where you can run around different environments, with your two partners at your side. I keep reiterating the “two partners” deal, because it is apparently strange for one person to have two Digimon partners. You are told later on why you are able to have two, and that’s a whole thing on it’s own, but it’s unimportant for now. When you start playing, the game holds your hand up to a point, showing you basics, how the training centre and digivolving and stats, etc. work, but then it goes silent, snickering as it leaves notes in the form of other baby Digimon standing around for you to try and gather more info from while it retreats to a safe distance to watch the chaos that will now unfold. Let me start off by saying this, I really enjoyed playing, BUT I feel there are a lot of unnecessarily complicated things that are present in this game. The core of the game seems to revolve around taking care of your Digimon, which takes a lot more time than it does getting to the actual storyline. If your Digimon is hungry, you need to feed it, after some time of having eaten something, you need to take it to a toilet, when it gets tired and fatigued, you need to find it a place to rest. You also need to take note of different meters for Happiness, Discipline, Bond, and even their weight!
Once I got a hang of all this, I took to the fields, encountering rogue Digimon, and then sending the friendlier ones back to town to help rebuild the once-beautiful Floatia. After a certain amount of fights I realised I need to train my Digimon a lot more, and I returned to the Training grounds. You train each spec individually, with a small bonus being applied to adjacent specs. Once you have chosen a spec to train, you are given a chance to land a bonus effect during training on a rapidly rotating meter. If you miss the effects, and hit an empty spot, it gets referred to as a “Mistake” but your Digimon trains as normal with no bonus effects.
Eventually I got my Digimon to evolve further to Champions, and how happy I was to get the Kyubimon and Youkomon. I then continued as normal with the story, my Youkomon digivolved into Doumon, but then noticed my Kyubimon was not digivolving into Taomon, despite having reached the needed specs. And then, at midnight, while my Kyubimon was happy and healthy, me having fully bonded with it, dies.
I was heartbroken. I put effort into taking care of her and despite being a good Tamer and having taken care of her, she died. Needless to say, to others who have played or are aware, this happens again with my Doumon, and I am back at stage 1 with new partners. This is apparently a common occurence, and I am yet to find out why. I suppose it allows you to explore the possibilities of the other Digimon, but again, why not just insert a mechanic where you can choose to start from stage one, instead them just keeling over while you’re asleep!?
Frustratingly Good Fun
Despite my above frustrations, and like I said before even that, I really enjoyed playing this. I am so conflicted about it because of the complications. I found myself wanting to continue playing, but the setbacks of my partners meeting untimely, and rather stupid, demises caused me to put the controller down more than I like to share, and yet I kept coming back for more. (Does that make me a sucker for punishment?)
I’m not the only one to have these frustrations. The breeding and training is a lot tougher than before. Many players have said that this Digimon game is far more difficult. Even a former Kotaku contributor wrote an article titled “Digimon Breeding Is So Complicated, I Had to Make Spreadsheets” * – And I can confirm the authenticity of this. I found the need to do the exact same thing. And yet, something keeps dragging you back.
There is a good enough premise, story-wise, to keep you interested as well, and the scenery is rather intriguing. I enjoyed all the electronic references, seeing Capacitors strewn about, Server PCs in the “Server Dessert” and also the “Logic Volcano” being a reference to the Logic gates and such. And like with some other JRPG Games where an English dub is provided, both the English and Japanese voice acting is really well done. If you are a long-standing fan of Digimon, or maybe one that hasn’t touched the series in a while but the nostalgia is getting to you, then this could be the game for you, because you will be spending quite a bit of time with your beloved Digimon partners… albeit in intervals. That’s for you to decide. The game is currently going for R915.00 at BTGames.