Sucked into a virtual world of Digimon only to find out that it is being attacked by Machinedramons sounds like a horrible time. You can't run away though, not when so much depends on you. Jump into the adventure of newest Digimon title for PlayStation 4 and battle with two Digimon companions as you try to restore order to Floatia and the surrounding area.
Digimon World: Next Order is a single-player open-world action RPG published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It released for the PlayStation Vita in Japan early 2016, but as of February 2017 all PlayStation 4 owners around the world are able to jump into the adventure, as well as enjoy improved graphics, textures, etc. The story, acting more like the structure to the game than the reason to play, tells of two potential students (one male, one female) who are dragged into a virtual world. They have predetermined names, but you'll get to change them to whatever you want, even your own, in order to achieve a more personal experience. You're tasked with battling against the invading Machinedramons and rescuing the wild Digimon throughout the lands. Meet friends along the way as you raise, train, and fight with more than 200 different Digimon.
After being dragged into your tiny mobile Digimon player, and you make your way through some tutorial fighting, you'll find yourself having to choose your first two eggs. A few interesting things about the simple phrase "first two" though; you'll have in your party two Digimon to fight for you at a time, breaking the series staple of a single Digimon. The other aspect of the phrase that plays a significant role in your experience is "first" since this will not be your only time of choosing new Digimon. You'll raise them, train them, fight with them, care for them, and then ultimately and inevitably watch them reach the end of their lifespan. The game is deep in the aspects of pet simulating in the way that you must do everything to raise your companions right, or suffer a quicker departure. This involves feeding and training them, and extends to measures such as making sure they use the bathroom and get enough sleep.
When training them you'll need to ration out which attributes to increase so that you're prepared for whatever the wild throws at you. Combat works like a small battle arena and allows the Digimon to move around within a bordered circle. How much control you personally have in each battle is up to you as you can set the digimon to spend their attack points at will, or save them up for you to decide how they are spent, but typically it will feel as though you are watching more than directing. Deeper strategy on your part will come into play later as you use stronger companions and fight stronger foes. It can be a little depressing leveling up your Digimon only to be forced into restarting with a new one eventually, but in time attributes will carry over and you as a trainer will be able to raise Digimon into further levels that were originally unreachable.
It's a deep mechanic and came with a bit of a learning curve, especially since a day in the game lasts just under half an hour, but once you get the hang of it it's all an enjoyable challenge. For those new to the style, you'll either love it or hate it, but nearly any RPG fan should find that the challenge it provides is at the very least a fun test of management skills. You'll also be able to upgrade the hub city of Floatia so that you can pursue more endeavors. One of the game aspects that I found to be really entertaining, it also extends gameplay. You can upgrades things such as the research lab, training hall, colosseum, and more by finding items like Digilron and Digisand (corny names I know, but it works).
Sound and Graphics
Colorful, fun, and a tad bit empty is the best way to describe the way this Digimon world looks. It has a cartoon/anime style just like the show and past games, and in many ways it's great, but it just doesn't feel full when traveling around. The outside areas feel like a big empty map with Digimon randomly walking around patrolling for a battle more than a living world. The hub city looks full and spectacular, and indoor places do as well, but this greater attention to details remains fairly exclusive to these spots. When moving around though your companions will follow by your side and it looks amazing when you get those big brutes as friends. It's what makes the whole process of raising them feel personal. I never had any issues that stood out to me regarding the performance of the game even when it came to audio. The Digimon and characters will talk with full english voiceovers which is extremely welcomed, even if at times it may sound cheesy.
There's no attempt in hiding that, at its core, Digimon World: Next Order is for die hard Digimon fans first and newcomers second. The deep mechanics of raising, caring for, and training your companions (multiple times) is one of the tougher challenges I've had to learn for a little while. It's rather straight forward once you've invested some hours into your adventure, but mastering this unique system from the get go is a time investment. Anyone can enjoy it; there's no exclusivity to RPG fans or even Digimon fans, so long as you don't bail before the game shows you the best of its qualities and you give yourself a chance to catch on. The graphics were great when there's structures and environmental elements to see, and the extra gameplay of the hub city made it feel like a complete experience in a very unique world worthy of a couple dozens hours of my time.
+ Deep Digimon pet simulator (if you're into that)