Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory Review
The latest release in the Digimon lineup of video game titles is an odd one to say the least, at least if this is the first time you’ve jumped into a Digimon game, which was the case for me. I generally don’t get really excited about Digimon as I prefer other, similar games over this one. However, when I learned that this used a similar battle technique to the Pokémon franchise, I was instantly interested and dove in the second our review copy came. Is Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory any good? Read on to find out what we thought!
When loading up Hacker’s Memory for the first time, I was a bit worried that since I wasn’t transferring save data over from the first Cyber Sleuth title, perhaps I was missing out on something. From what I understood from friends, I wasn’t missing on a whole lot, which came as an instant relief. From all my time watching other play Cyber Sleuth, I had to remind myself a number of times early on that I was in fact playing the sequel to that experience. There is so much from the original game that is brought over to Hacker’s Memory, that you might think they are the same game. As a sequel, however, this shouldn’t be that surprising.
If it wasn’t for the obviously uneducated protagonist – who doesn’t know what Digimon are – and the plethora of new Digimon to collect, you might think this was a very familiar experience; and for the record, I’m not sure that is a bad thing. With a title like Digimon, developers are going after a very niche market, who wants that feeling of familiarity of the past – especially a past title that was pretty good according to fans – to keep them enthused about what is coming next. After talking with a few people who loved the original, they all seemed pleased to see so much of that familiarity flood back to them in Hacker’s Memory.
But the developers do enough to change it. New Digimon, a new character to play as, and a handful of new controls and gameplay mechanics keeps Hacker’s Memory fresh. Familiar, yes, but fresh.
The story in Hacker’s Memory is what I’d deem a typical, JRP rollercoaster ride. Confusion was my first response, then delight, followed up – unfortunately – by dis-interest in what was going on. Like with Pokémon, it was the collecting that kept me playing Digimon through to the end, not necessarily the story. In the final moments, it does al come together fairly well, a redeeming quality that ultimately ended my play through on a high note.
As a first time player of this Digimon story, the creation of the Internet world in which our protagonist explores was rather brilliant to me. After realizing his EDEN account has been stolen by high level hackers, your character enters the internet, joins with other hackers, to take down this criminal organization. The world is an interesting collection of blue platforms and light puzzles that is pretty basic, but yet still very interesting. If someone were to crecreate the internt for me to play around in, this would be what it looks like. To that end, I think the developers did well.
Unfortunately, we live in a world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Although the worlds themselves represent the image the developers want players to have, it still lacks that flash of the previously mentioned titles. After 10 or so hours, the same-ness of the environment does begin to wear on you. For the hard core fans of the Digimon franchise, there is enough outside the environments to propel you forward. For those who are less involved in this franchise, however, this could ultimately be a major turn off. Don’t get me wrong, there is more to Hacker’s Memory than different colour cyber environments; those tend to dominate, but as the pictures in this article indicate, there are other areas to explore!
Even for someone who’s played through the original experience, the sequel does enough to set it apart. Sure, the environment is the same, and many of the characters you will meet are characters that appeared before. But important gameplay elements have been tweaked to create a better experience. Battles, for example, are much more balanced, eliminating most of those “what the hell” moments from the first title in the series. The introduction of Dominion Battles is also a nice touch, and gives you something to do outside the main story. Players will battle other hackers to control a specific region, a nice touch for long time fans.
Boss battles are where Hacker’s Memory shines through the most; having the correct grouping of Digimon with you for the battle is only one of the many strategic things you’ll be required to do, to ensure a victory. While most player-to-player battles throughout the story are fairly easy, boss fights are not. Despite how well you think you are progressing, never underestimate a boss fight. They are the most exhilarating moments of Hacker’s Memory, and also the most frustrating.
Ultimately, things in Hacker’s Memory will become repetitive over time, but that isn’t a reason to not pick this up. If you have an interest in Digimon, or the turn based, collect-a-thon game play mechanics that makes Digimon and Pokémon such popular franchises, there is definitely some value here. Even if you haven’t played the original – and perhaps not playing the original makes this a much better experience – don’t worry: there is plenty of introductions to get you up to speed quickly!