What a bizarre turn of events. I’m here writing the Digimon World Next Order Review. Who’d have thought we’d ever get a true sequel to the original Digimon World? Better yet, to have it seem so faithful to the original. Perhaps to a fault, some could say.
Whilst it’s by no means as polished an experience as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Next Order is a fine addition to the Digimon universe. A more fitting installment for those that enjoy raising their digital pets rather than taking them on a traditional turn-based JRPG adventure.
Look and Feel
Digimon World Next Order is a faithful depiction of Digimon. It’s nowhere near the fidelity I’d personally like, nor is every camera angle a joy, but it nails the source material.
Taking place in the Digital World, the standard JRPG tropes apply. The fire, ice, grass, mountainous and desert regions make an appearance, though they have their digital twists. The desert is littered with dead servers that over-heated. The Nigh-Plains have a colourful rock filled with gems to mine. There are aspects all over Digimon world that give the regions a digital feel. Granted, some areas don’t get the same treatment (Absolute Zero is essentially just snow and ice) but I appreciate where they put the extra effort in.
The sheer variety of Digimon range from the cool to the absurd. I have to admit that I was sold when my Digimon evolved in to a MachGaomon: a wolf wearing shades and a championship belt attached to a jet-pack. An early memory in this sixty-plus hour game.
Ultimately, Next Order suffers from low fidelity; even compared to Cyber Sleuth, and the way the camera works in tight spaces and battles can be incredibly awkward. Nevertheless, it’s enjoyable to watch your city expand and seeing the Digimon evolve. If nothing else, it’s great to watch your management of this world and your partners bear fruit.
There’s a noticeable stutter in the frame rate when you reach certain areas on Playstation 4. The Ohguino Wastelands is a prime culprit. Especially when you have large Digimon taking up most of the camera at the back. The frames don’t particularly affect the gameplay at all and I had no crashes in my time with the game, but the slow-down / stutter was obvious. This could bother some more than others. I pushed through it fairly easily. Still, it’s something you should be aware of.
Your player character (boy or girl) is sucked in to the Digital World and caught in an in-between space. After a brief tutorial of the battle mechanics, you’ll meet Jijimon: leader of the Digital World’s city. The city has seen better days and a strange program appears to be infecting Digimon, causing Machinedramon to appear across the land wreaking havoc.
Jijimon requests your aid in uncovering the mystery of the program and rebuilding the Digimon City. Thus begins the tale of Whoever-you-are travelling the Digital World with your TWO partner Digimon, recruiting other Digimon to add to the city’s available services.
I can’t give an accurate time due to the in-game clock continuing during the pause menu (bad in-game clock! Bad) but my clock-in for completing the story was around seventy-hours. The story’s pacing suffers from the need to recruit Digimon in-between narrative beats but those recruits are usually very useful to your moment-to-moment gameplay. It’s a tricky balance, but I do wish they’d have lowered the end-game recruit requirement for story completion. One hundred is a nice, round number though I guess.
Voice Acting, Sound and Music
There’s a full cast of characters with voices that make regular appearances. Fresh off of the dour Velvet from Tales of Berseria, Christina Vee does a great job as the bubbly Himari. As it stands, I can’t find the rest of the list of the English dub cast. I’ve requested the information from Bandai Namco, but if this section remains unchanged, assume the information didn’t make it in time.
One oddity is the ability for most Digimon to speak, yet your own Digimon can only growl. Like your Digimon are the only actual animals in the world. It’s even more peculiar here than it was in the original because in the original, odd sounds were all you’d get. Here, however, Jijimon, Taomon and both partner Digimon for your friends Kouta and Himari can all talk. It’s not bothersome, but it’s never explained, and that thought lingered in my head.
The battle and city themes are memorable. The rest of the music I could give or take, but those two themes are still fresh in my mind. It’s a positive experience to have the two pieces of music you’re going to hear the most be something worth hearing. Of course, like the rest of a review, this is entirely subjective.
At the base level, Digimon World Next Order is a cycle of:
- Raising, training and fighting with your two partner Digimon from birth (and rebirth)
- Doing sidequests for Digimon that you can recruit to the city for new services/facilities.
- Gathering materials to improve the city’s facilities and increase your Tamer Level.
- Advancing the story by meeting Digimon recruitment number milestones.
The Digital World has a day-night cycle during which your Digimon age, evolve, die and are reborn. Some Digimon can only be recruited at certain times of day too. It’s important to explore areas at different stages of the day.
For the most part, you’re in Digimon Manager Mode. When your two digimon are chosen from a selection of eggs, they’ll start from In-Training and can be digivolved through to Mega level (provided certain stat and battle requirements are met). The variety of Digimon they can digivolve in to makes the process of their death and rebirth both sad and enjoyable all at the same time.
The majority of your time will be spent in the City Training Hall hearing a familiar *ding* as you improve one of the six main stats: STR(ength), STA(mina), HP, MP, SPD and WIS(dom). Whether it’s to hit digivolution targets (incrementally uncovered by scolding/praising your Digimon at given opportunities) or to defeat some tough opponents, training is vital. The machines can be improved with a hefty load of BITS (currency) and having used the training type enough times to give it the “power” needed.
Digi-Battles: Trust Your Friends
The most polarising aspect of Digimon World Next Order is likely the battle system. If you encounter a hostile Digimon, the area will clear of non-combatants and your two digimon will face whatever hostiles were caught in the arena ring coverage zone. From there, your Digimon will take actions by themselves. Commands can be used to them with OP (Order Power), which can be increased by pressing X as their attacks land, but the point of most battles is to trust your ‘Mon to defeat the enemies themselves.
In battle, your Digimon can also learn the moves used against them if they’re compatible with said move. This is a hugely important aspect, as the early moves pale in comparison to what many of your opponents can do. Fighting a Meteormon in Logic Volcano with only stage one moves might be rough, but if your Digimon learn the awesome Buster Drive as a result, it’s worth it.
You can use items on your Digimon mid-battle with varying affects: recovery, stat improvement and/or resurrection (assuming one Digimon is still alive). Depending on the opponent, you’ll either be hands-off or heavily involved.
Of course, should both of your Digimon be compatible, you can activate Extra Cross Evolution (ExE) by pressing L1 and R1 simultaneously and selecting ExE (with stored OP of 150). This combines the two Digimon in to a single, incredibly powerful Digimon. It can only be performed once per day but hot DAMN is it a great feeling. Digimon that would normally tear you apart can get shredded by your ExE. It’s best to save it for particularly tough battles though. This can also occur upon the defeat of your Digimon partners as your character mourns their loss.
As mentioned above, the Digimon evolve over time, but over that entire course there are common threads that occur. Up until Mega stage, Digimon will poo. There’s a funny scene that drops down when you take them near a toilet to indicate their business being done, but if you fail to reach the toilet, they’ll drop a load in the middle of a street.
They must also be fed. Most of your food will likely be grown on the Digi-Farm in the city, but you’ll find items in the wild and meals can be cooked once you open a restaurant in the city. Different food comes can be appealing to your Digimon, raising or lower their happiness and/or discipline levels, as well as affecting their stats and even training bonuses for a limited time.
The death of your beloved Mega Digimon is inevitable, but their lives can be extended with certain foods and good care. The juggling act of your Digimon life cycles can be tough to manage but it ultimately results in stronger Digimon as they’re reborn. Especially if you invest heavily in the following mechanic.
Tamer Levels and the Talent Tree
As well as raising the Digimon, you have your own Tamer level to consider. By increasing your Tamer level you’ll earn Talent Points to spend on perks. The perks offer a number of benefits within their own mini-trees, including extending a Digimon’s natural life or inheriting a higher percentage of their stats when being reborn from their final life stage. Eventually, you’ll have In Training Digimon with higher stats than your early Ultimate stage Digimon.
The talents don’t only apply to the Digimon themselves. Some talents allow for better hauls from highlighted material gathering zones. The zones are colour co-ordinated to indicate the type of material you’ll find there. Investing in those talents will make it much easier to upgrade the city’s facilities.
Come One, Come All to the Digimon City
Recruiting Digimon is key to both story progression and facility expansion. Some Digimon are more important than others. Their facilities, such as Meramon’s restaurant, add a great deal to the city’s worth. As do the later Digimon that cook better meals (Seraphimon is a God to me).
I think the issue lies in how they force you to recruit in order to advance. Mainly because some recruitment quests are annoying. There are a LOT of fetch quests and they’re simply not fun. The game could have done with a faster mode of travel on the map. Let me ride a Garurumon. I don’t care how you do it Bandai Namco! Just make traversal of the areas worth doing. I much prefer the simple “FIGHT ME” quests to recruit a Digimon. Get in to a battle, slap a dude up and bring ’em on home. Done and done!
Digimon World Next Order is a different beast to Cyber Sleuth. Even though I can see plainly see how much better of an actual game Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is, Digimon World Next Order is one that I personally enjoyed more. Raising Digimon and the surprise of their next digivolution never got old to me. Training them and watching them succeed in battle felt much better than having direct control. Expanding the city and bringing in an all-star cast of Digimon to start up businesses was always a joy. Unless, of course, they just sat in the restaurant eating (looking at you Ikkakumon).
So it may not have level of polish I expected after Cyber Sleuth, but Digimon World Next Order is a true sequel to the original Digimon World and I truly believe it’s an experience you don’t get anywhere else. Simply put; it’s a good game beneath its rough exterior.
About This Digimon World Next Order Review
Game Reviewed: Digimon World Next Order – Retail Edition
Review Format: PS4
PEGI Rating: 7