The definition of unconventional.
I know nothing of Digimon. I mean nothing. I know there was this mini T-rex looking guy that talked to his trainer and that the theme song of the cartoon was annoying to me. That’s it. I have never played one of these games before, and really didn’t know what I was getting into other than my knowledge of Pokémon, which was what I thought this game would be like. I was nowhere close to guessing that right, but in some ways, I find Digimon World: Next Order very interesting in its mechanics.
Players take control of a tamer (male or female) who gets transported to the digital world after putting on their digivice they haven’t touched in seven years. There, they discover the once peaceful world is being terrorized by multiple Machinedramons that have appeared. Now it is up to the tamer and his two Digimon partners to save other Digimon and take them to the main town and stop the Machinedramons from sending the digital world into pure chaos.
Platforms: PS4, Vita
Price I’d pay: $40
To start off, the game introduces players to multiple mechanics. So many, I felt like it was a bit overwhelming to begin with. Players start off with two Digimon that they can raise to become powerful allies in battle. In order to do this, players must train them in the training hall. Players can choose which stats to raise during training in the training hall, and based on the stats raised, their Digimon will digivolve into different, more powerful Digimon. This is all done in the main hub town players will constantly return to.
Much like the old school Tamagotchis from the 90’s, players must tend to their Digimon in game. This can be feeding them when they’re hungry, letting them sleep at night, and letting them go to the bathroom. Yes, Digimon have to poop. Doing this, along with praising and scolding them depending on the situation, will raise both their happiness and loyalty to the tamer. This affects numerous things, but most importantly how they handle in battle.
The strange mechanic that I had to wrap my head around was the resurrection mechanic. So, besides worrying about levels in a standard RPG, Next Order just shows the Digimon’s stats. After a certain amount of time, said Digimon will die and be reborn as kind of a blank slate. Granted, not everything is lost when this happens. Many starting stats are boosted, and any moves that were learned in a past life remain. This is where the entire raising Digimon comes into play. Doing certain things with the tamer’s Digimon will reveal what are basically blueprints for how to create certain Digimon. So, players now know which stats they have to raise in order to get their current Digimon to digivolve into their desired Digimon. This is complex. I’m talking spreadsheet a mile long complex. This is where the game really shines in the customization.
To ease the fact that all Digimon the player has will eventually die and have to be re-raised, the tamer will level up as well after battles. The tamer will gain points they can spend to unlock a skill tree of perks that can help with battle conditions, raising, survival, resource gathering, and much more. This makes the battle feel like more than just a roadblock in the way to the next story beat. These tamer skills are what eases the game from being a training slog.
The battle system is one I have never really seen before. It is more of a passive affair, where the tamer will cheer on the Digimon in battle as well as give them commands at certain intervals. The Digimon will move, attack, and dodge on their own in battle. The tamer can support their Digimon to gain order points that can be used to give their Digimon direct orders to attack, defend, or power up immediately rather than letting them do it on their own when they feel like it. To begin with, I really didn’t like this style of battle system. It felt like I had no real control over the flow of battle and was just stuck watching my Digimon get hit and hit their targets when they felt like it. After gaining some new abilities and powering up my Digimon, I started to figure out a bit more and conditioned myself to the battle system.
That’s my biggest gripe with Next Order – the first four or five hours of this game was both overwhelming and confusing. The learning curve was set really high, and I basically had to power through the first chapter trying to figure out what I needed to do. Not because there was no direction, but because there was just so much to remember and learn.
The main game revolves around finding Digimon out in the field and doing a request for them so that they will go to the main town. Certain ones will upgrade the town to offer new shops, fast travel system, and much more. Players will also have to collect materials for this, which can be found around the field as well.
While not the best looking game in the world, it is serviceable for the most part. Seeing as this game is also on the Vita, I understand where it’s coming from. It is very bright and vibrant with the colors and look, and while the music repeats a bit too much, it felt right at home with the entire experience.
Digimon World: Next Order is an interesting game. It is honestly is nothing like anything I have ever played before. The unconventional leveling system, the complex raising mechanic, and the passive battle system all take a while to get used to, and the first parts of the game can be a real difficult time for some, but in all, I think there is room for this game for many RPG fans out there. It’s not going to win any awards, but it is different enough to keep players on their toes and if you let the raising become an addiction to you, it can easily last you a very long time. I would say wait for a little price drop unless you’re a hardcore fan of Digimon.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.