Should you play Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition? (Review)

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition is a rarity in the gaming landscape for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s one of the few remaining monster breeder game franchises out there alongside Pokemon (Monster Rancher R.I.P.) And it’s also one of the very few Digimon (Digital Monster) games ever released on PC (Digimon Survive is also looming on the horizon). But are those reasons enough on their own to warrant playing the game for most people? Well, probably not. Here’s the quick rundown:

You should play it if:

Tons of fan favorite digimon, including WarGreymon, Omnimon, Gallantmon, Beelzemon, Magnamon, and many more. Also features a level above Mega digimon called “Ultra” even though it’s technically not canon.

You can endlessly level, digivolve, and devolve digimon. Collecting all the 341 digimon in the game was a ton of fun.

The special skill animations were pretty awesome to look at (for example, Apocalymon’s Darkness Zone was particularly satisfying). The virtual locations look really neat. And some of the story-related setpieces were really unique.

You shouldn't play it if:

The game has stupendous amounts of dialogue, which wouldn’t be that bad if it was interesting or actually added anything to the story.

If you ever feel bored during one of the countless conversations, be prepared to button mash your way through because you can’t skip anything! Not even on the 2nd playthrough! But there’s really no merit in replaying this game anyway.

While all video games can be considered a waste of time, it only becomes problematic when we stop having fun. DS:CSCE is a prime example of this. Most parts of this game have been artificially inflated to make it longer than it should be. This includes dialogue, exploration, missions, and even combat. And when any aspect of the game starts dragging on it also diminishes the fun.

All the dialogue is English, but every voice line is in Japanese, the digimon voices included. If you want to follow the story or what’s happening on the screen, be prepared to read. A lot. Unless you know Japanese, of course.

Some Stats

Game release date: October 17, 2019

Version Played: PC on Steam

Time spent playing before review: 175 hours

Completion: 100% (all achievements)

Overall Enjoyment: 5/10

DS: CSCE plays like most turn-based RPGs out there. You have your overworld exploration where you can interact with NPCs and vendors to buy consumables and equipment. And you have dungeon crawling with item collection and turn-based combat where digimon take turns attacking.

Speed affects how often a digimon can attack per rotation, so you can get something as ridiculous as this (that’s a single enemy getting infinite turns):

You also level up as you would in any other RPG, the level cap being 99. And this is where the most interesting part of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth CE comes into play. 

First, because it’s a monster breeder game, you don’t have predefined party members that change based on story events. Instead, you can create your own unique squad/combination of digimon as early as the very 1st chapter of the game. The game has a 341 of these critters in total, so there’s a ton of setups to try out. 

Second, even though level 99 is the cap, you can “digivolve” your digimon into stronger variants while also resetting your level to 1. Or you can revert them into weaker versions, which also resets them to level 1. But the evolution paths aren’t linear in most cases, allowing you to evolve and revert into different digimon each time, which is a must if you want to max out stat bonuses and get all the useful skills. And the collection aspect here was probably the most enjoyable aspect of the game to me personally.

The major downside to all of this, however, is the excessive padding present in just about every aspect of the game. From exploration, to missions, to even combat, the game is designed in a way to force you to spend as much time as possible on the most menial of the tasks. 

Have to talk to a single NPC in the overworld hub? Be prepared to walk to the place furthest away from the entrance of the area just to talk to them. Need to defeat a specific enemy for a mission? Run all the way to the end of a 5 area dungeon. Need to go anywhere or anything? Go through 4 screens or 4 menus just to get to where you need to be. This game really needed some real playtesting and QoL improvements, but I guess they didn’t have the budget for it.

Story

The story is painfully average and largely uninteresting, trying to hit every Anime cliche/trope out there as a means to “entertain”. You probably won’t feel anything towards most characters or get invested in any of them. You probably won’t care about why anything’s happening at any given time either. 

And with the amount of stupid dialogue you’d think this is Visual Novel posing as an RPG, which is awesome if done correctly (see Baldr Sky). I love reading books, web novels, visual novels, and just about anything in written form. But this game’s “text” made me question my own sanity and meaning of life.

Here’s a “main story” mission for reference, mild spoilers: you walk around tasting food and reading how your character feels about the taste. No, you don’t actually see the food. Nor do you see your character eat. It’s just a text bubble over a black screen. It doesn’t add anything to the story. And it’s not entertaining in any way. Just a way to lazily inject more overused anime cliches and tropes.

 

And to make matters worse, the main character is a self-insert bland protagonist that has little to no impact on the actual story. If you removed them, the story wouldn’t lose all that much.

Graphics

The graphics are okay for a low budget game. The environments look decent. Character models have the bare minimum animations to not make them look like stick figures, but they don’t interact with the environments in any way.

That being said, the digimon and their special abilities are really well done and look really cool. Some digimon fight cutscenes within the main story are nicely done (e.g. Renamon vs MegaSeadramon).

Closing thoughts

Unless you’re a hardcore digimon fan, you probably won’t enjoy Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition. It’s a very low budget game that hasn’t aged well since it’s initial release in 2015. The core gameplay loop is enjoyable, but the fun is greatly diminished by all the gameplay padding present in the game. And even if you’re a digimon fan, this game is only worth getting at a very steep discount.

WARNING: if you care about achievements, keep in mind they’re bugged on Steam. No one knows what causes it exactly, but people sometimes don’t unlock the meta achievements despite having all the requirements and there’s no way to get them once it bugs out.