PS4, PS Vita
January 27, 2017
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Bandai Namco Entertainment
If you were a youth of the 90’s like myself then you understand it was an amazing time, Dragon Ball, Pokémon, Sailor Moon and Digimon were the rulers of television. I had Pikachu’s and Patamon’s adorning all corners of my room and I spent endless hours playing numerous games from the franchises. While it may now be 2017, not much has changed it would seem; Pokémon are still trying to make us catch ’em all, Dragon Ball are still the gods of fighting and Digimon have a whole new world of digital monsters for us to explore in Digimon World: Next Order.
The one thing you’ll instantly notice if you’ve ever played the original Digimon World game before (released on PlayStation in 1999) or are at all familiar with the franchise, is what a blast from the past Digimon World: Next Order is. The music, the Digimon designs, the Digimon village you awake in (also your HQ throughout the game) and all of its surroundings look familiar. However, there is one massive change: instead of just one Digimon partner Next Order allows you two.
Having been some time since I played my last Digimon game I was a little unsure what to expect coming into Next Order, although I had a basic idea of the concept. I wasn’t, however, prepared to be thrown into utter chaos the moment the game started! Digimon World: Next Order immediately throws you into disorder as the opening scenes give you a taste of what to expect later in game. Ported instantly into the Digiworld upon choosing and renaming your character (a choice of pre designed male of female, Takuto and Shiki) you’re greeted by your two faithful Digimon ready to battle. While it’s refreshing being thrown in the deep end like this straight off the bat, the game sets it up as a tutorial for you to become accustomed with commanding your Digimon and getting to grips with the games control system.
It’s in this tutorial you’re also introduced to one of the games new features, ExE Evolutions. If all the correct conditions are met, ExE allows two Digimon to digivolve together as long as they aren’t DNA Digimon. Sounding over-complicated yet? While its a fun concept and a good idea in practice I’m personally yet to use it as often as the game expects me to.
After your opening battle you arrive back in the village Floatia. Here you continue to get more of an introduction to the gameplay mechanics and hear from the ancient sage Jijimon that the digiworld is once again in trouble. This time it appears a bunch of Machinedramon have been set loose and you’ve been asked to stop them.
“One of the most important and key aspects to the game is raising your Digimon. Hey 90’s kids, hello again, do you remember a toy called Tamagotchi?“
For services rendered in the tutorial you can pick out two of Jijimons digieggs from which your Digimon partners will hatch for you to train up. I choose Botamon, who is the baby form of Koromon who will turn into Agumon if I do everything right and YukimiBotamon. The baby form of Nyaromon who will then digivolve into Salamon and with luck Gatomon. Here’s where things get tricky and a little like groundhog day. If you’ve ever played Digimon World then you’ll immediately know there’s a game within the game. One of the most important and key aspects of the game is raising your Digimon. Hey 90’s kids, hello again, do you remember a toy called Tamagotchi? Well if you do, you’re in luck! Consider your Digimon partners in this game as your personal Tamagotchi. You’re tasked with remembering to feed it, take it to the toilet to poop and put it to sleep. Not only that but you’ll also have to train them in a number of various stats such as HP, MP, Attack and Wisdom, just to name just a few.
“In fact the needs to digivolving are so complicated I found myself creating written out notes and spreadsheets on my phone to help with with the task. “
Much like a Tamagotchi, be prepared to spend the majority of your time in game taking care of your Digimon. I would estimate approximately 50 hours of my game time has been spent simply on evolving and training Digimon, while there is perhaps 60 hours of actual story to play. It’s worth noting at this point, unlike Pokémon, a single Digimon can actually evolve into many different forms and are reduced back into their egg form upon death. There’s also many factors that determine what a Digimon will digivolve into. In fact, the needs for digivolving are so complicated that I found myself creating written notes and spreadsheets on my phone to help with with the task.
Calculating factors which vary from their weight, your Digimons mood changes if you failed to toilet them in time, battles won, praising or scolding them and so much more… It quickly became mind boggling. Adding to all this the included stat changes from training and exploring the digital world and it’s soon clear why I started using a notepad and spreadsheets. Digimon also have a lifespan.
With each day that passes in the digital world, your Digimons age will also increase. Technically, Digimon have a lifespan of 20 days, however this all depends on whether you can digivolve them to their highest levels, the mega forms. Depending on how you raise your little digital monsters will determine how long they live for. Thankfully the game can be played without reaching this form, however the challenge is unforgiving.. Just as soon as you think you’re making progress and rocking through the story with you powerhouse digital monsters, they die from old age, forcing you to spend hours all over again raising a new set of powerful monsters before venturing forth once again. Even though your Digimon are reborn with improved stats every time, it’s this “grinding for a goal” factor I found to be the make or break point for me.
Grinding is an important part of Next Order. If you don’t have hours to spend spamming training regiments or farming mobs for stats, then you won’t have a lot of fun with this game. The time spent running around the different zones needed to recruit and find new Digimon can feel more like a chore than a joy. When I was younger, I had all the time in the world to go to a volcano and bring Meramon back whatever he wanted, but now, ain’t nobody got time for dat!
And don’t even get me started on how important pooping seems to be in the land of Digimon. I know pooping was an important part of the original Digimon World , but a lot has changed since 1999, Megas weren’t even in the original. Sure in Digimon World, you would watch them poop, which was creepy enough but now in Next Order, a sign with a rocketship that says “BOOM” appears on screen! This is even weirder. My point about poop here is, pooping is an important part Next Order. If you don’t have a portable toilet handy or your partners don’t get to a toilet in time, they’ll poop on the ground and their TF score goes up. This in turn can effect how they digivolve; after all the last thing you want to see is your precious Agumon turn into a Numemon after all that effort.
The battle system in Next Order is also the same battle system used in the original, which is the AI battle system. Your Digimon will automatically attack while you shout commands from the sidelines and offer support. There is an exceptional amount of battling to be done in the game to progress the story along and battling is often activated by running into a Digimon in the open world. For me it was a bit hit and miss at times and relied a lot on timing which during battle felt rushed sometimes. In the end how well you do out in the open would comes down to how much training you do. Next Order however has something which truly sets it apart from the original in the form of cross evolution or ExE. It’s a mechanic that seems to be built around the player possessing a pair of Digimon partners instead of just a single partner.
If you’re after something amazing here with Next Order in regards to Digimon battles then you may be out of luck. I believe the developers were trying to capture the nostalgia from the original Digimon World rather than focus on a new battle system, although the battle menus are a lot prettier.
- Two Digimon partners
- Cross evolution
- Beautifully rendered digital world to explore
- A wonderful trip down memory lane
- The grind is real and it's monotonous
- Digimon require A LOT of attention
- Failed evolutions because of poop
Digimon World: Next Order is definitely the sparkly remake of the original Digimon World and as much of a grind as it’s been, I’ve absolutely enjoyed being taken down nostalgia lane. With all the best parts of Digimon World, the upgrades in Next Order have made for intriguing gameplay and yet with all those new bells and whistles the game still manages to retain the core mechanic fans loved in the original. This is also were I feel Next Order is let down and suffers drastically. My life has changed from 1999 and I’m now limited by the hours I can spend grinding and farming on a game. So if you’re wondering if you should get Digimon World: Next Order, then question is: Do you really want to be spending 50 odd hours raising Digimon teams only to spend another 60 hours trying to complete the story? Answer that and you’ll know if you should own this or not.