Review: Digimon World: Next Order.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Last year Namco Bandai released Digimon Story which was well-received and while this year brings us another Digimon game these two games couldn’t be any different. They both have Digimon and are RPGs(albeit extremely different in its combat mechanics) but that’s where the similarities end. Those looking for a sequel or something like Digimon Story might be in for quite a shock. Those who like Digimon or the old World games however might have some more interest. So is Digimon World: Next Order worth your time?
It’s been seven years.
Digimon World is rather light on story. The main character gets sucked in their digivice and into the Digital World where he meets his partners and has to fend off an aggressive Machinedramon. After beating the mechanical beast the player awakens in front of an old man named Jijimon who after learning that the player defeated the Machindramon requests his or her help to hold off spontaneous Machinedramon attacks that have been happening. The story certainly isn’t the game’s main draw. Its mystery is very shallow and characters aren’t really interesting. Digimon World is meant to be played for the gameplay and not the story. This is demonstrated by the fact that the actual story isn’t that long. After a certain battle and encounter with characters, the game asks you to continue completing side-quest until a certain number is reached to get a small piece of the story and a boss battle. Normally this would be a problem but it’s clear the game knows its meat is not in the narrative area. Players will probably want to focus more on recruiting Digimon rather than sit through what little and uninteresting plot there is. The story is just there to give actual closure to the game after players finished completing most of the requests. Interestingly enough though despite its shallow narrative focus this is the game Bandai Namco decided to go all out on in terms of voice acting. The game is fully voiced with English voices and while most of them are serviceable there are a few problems. Some of the game’s voice acting can be pretty sub-par but is never really annoying or bad. However there are some problems in the script and writing such as the fact that a lot of terms and names are mispronounced and it seems like the game was translated a bit too literally from Japanese as there are sentences that don’t seem to make much sense. It’s even more bizarre when some of those lines are uttered by characters. The game also seems to have a typo or two. The only actual real problem with the story is that when the player has to redo a boss-battle they will have to sit through all of the dialogue and cutscenes since there is no skip button. But those are the only real complaints considering the story can be almost ignored completely with the exception of the bosses. Next Order rather focusses on its gameplay and exploration.
Raising pets and exploration.
Next Order combines RPG elements and virtual pet elements. In this world the player is unique because they have two-parters. One partner’s actions are mapped to the L1 button while the other is mapped to the R1 button. Players will have to feed, rest, scold, praise and train their Digimon. Your two Digimon roam the world alongside you and will point out items, quest and just any general thing. After some time the Digimon will ask for either food, sleep or bathroom time. Failing to provide your pet with those elements will result in a loss in bond between you and the monsters. This has several effects on the game, sometimes even good effects so it’s up to the player to treat their monsters how they want. Sometimes your partners will refuse to eat or go to sleep or return from a battle with pride in which case you have to either scold or praise them which can result in a change of their stats. After your Digimon will have reached a certain age they will Digivolve. Digimon can evolve multiple times and every monster can evolve into one of three different option. The Digimon your partner will change into is determined by the stats they have. Some may need a higher attack or a negative amount of discipline. What the requirements are always a mystery for the first time and more info will be given after scolding or praising your partner. Getting those that can be reached by battling other monsters which make them stronger but if players want to increase an individual stat faster they can alway hit the gym and train their Digimon until they meet their preferred requirements. After reaching a certain age your Digimon will pass away and revert to an In-Training Digimon and while they keep a lot of elements like the stats you will have to restart from the beginning and re-Digivolve your partners. At first it’s an incredibly annoying hassle but the further you progress in the game the easier it becomes to get to the same stage you were last time. The further you progress the faster the evolution progress goes and eventually player can unlock perks which lets their Digimon get older and older until near the end-game players might find themselves killing their Digimon on purpose to try out a new evolutionary line. Since players start from the beginning they can try to go on a different route of evolution with their Digimon in order to use all of them or create the duo that best fits the player or tasks they want to do. Once the player goes out into the world they will have to fend off wild Digimon. Once contact is made with a Digimon on the world a ring will appear around both your partners and the enemies. Your Digimon will kind of do their thing and use Magic Points to attack depending on their distance. Players can give their Digimon orders to do specific attacks as long as they have enough Order Points. The amount of Order Points is determined with how your bond to that specific partner is. Players can encourage their Digimon on the field to boost their OP with OP being boosted if the player encourages when attacks hit or when being hit. OP does not carry over to battle and instead OP will reset to the amount of points of your Digimon’ bond. The point of the game is to go and explore the world which contains Digimon that need your help one way or the other. These quests will range from bringing a certain amount of items, killing a certain enemy or just talking to some other Digimon. Once a quest is completed the Digimon will move to the city where it will offer its services to the player. It’s an interesting way to keep expanding your options and abilities. Apparently, Japanese players though the game was too easy and for the international version the difficulty has been ramped up to an almost ludicrous amount. At the beginning of the game players will have an incredibly tough time. Every item, ability and requited Digimon counts which makes progression feel incredibly rewarding. That doesn’t change the fact that players will have to exercise a lot of patience until the game gets easier for it to truly become enjoyable. Things like getting a shop in town by doing quests, being able to heal a bit of life by walking or extending your partners’ natural life will make things quite a bit easier. Exploration is one of the main aspects of the game and just trying to see more of the world is incredibly engaging. The other main aspect is the sense of progression the player makes by recruiting, leveling up and powering your partners is what makes Digimon World so rewarding and fun. Given that you have the patience to get over the incredibly difficult hurdles the game presents when you start.
A mix of technology and nature.
Next Order’s world is a nice one to wander around in. The world has the themes you’d come to expect from games. There are open plains, deserts, volcanoes and other such thematic worlds. But what makes them interesting is the natural inclusion of digital and technological elements. Trees have electrical plugs in them, the desert is littered with servers and many other neat creative touches are partly what makes this world so fun to explore. Another thing that the game nails are character designs. All of the characters have nice and unique designs. The Digimon look pretty good too and while there are over two hundred to obtain a lot of them are basically recolors. While that lowers the number of actual unique designs there are still more than enough different monsters to collect and the re-skins vary in move types and stats so it’s not just only an esthetic palette swap. Visually the game looks okay. While it doesn’t look bad the textures are something you’d rather see in previous gen consoles which should be expected since the game is a visually (but well) updated port of a Vita game. The music is also pretty solid with some really catchy tunes with the main battle theme being an audio highlight. Digimon World isn’t the strongest game graphically but its creative mixture of real-world elements and digital/technological makes it a fun world to look at and explore. Its character designs are strong and its music’s good too.
Next Order is a pretty difficult game when you start it up. But as you unlock more options the game starts to ease up a bit. This is the initial bump in the road players need to get over to truly get anything out of the game. It makes every completed quest, unlocked perk and evolved Partner feel valuable and precious which is something a lot of game miss now-a-days and gives the player a great sense of satisfaction every time they accomplice anything. After getting over that obstacle players will find a decent and fairly fun game. The game’s main draws are the exploration of a creative and unique world to behold, Caring and raising your partners and trying to obtain all the Digimon there are or at least getting the ones you want and making them powerful. For those looking for anything resembling a story might want to reconsider. The music and character designs are great while the actual battles can shift from fairly enjoyable to frustrating. The main problem is the aforementioned hurdle and you as a player’s willingness to get through it. Those even remotely interested while playing might find the patience to get to where the game becomes fun.
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