Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory is a turn-based RPG available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PS4 and PS Vita. Digimon originated in 1997 as a Tamagotchi style virtual pet that was designed by Akiyoshi Hongo to play and fight, while a card game was published in Japan by Bandai in 1997. Every year has seen Digimon’s popularity gradually increase with almost every form of entertainment media including numerous anime TV series, films, manga issues and more besides. Bandai has had an affiliation with Digimon videogame adaptations since they began in 1999 with an RPG titled Digimon World on PS1, while numerous RPG, 2.5D fighting games in the style of Super Smash Bros and spin-offs based directly on the trading card gameplay have released on almost every platform throughout each console generation totalling to over 40 Digimon games. Can Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory expand upon the quality of its prequel Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth while delivering one of the very best Digimon role-playing games?
The story is a side story that unfolds in parallel to Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth in which the story’s perspective is told from previously non-playable character Keisuke as he investigates who has stolen his digital identity; therefore filling in the gaps to what major non-playable characters were up to when not visible in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, although certain story elements will not be as clear to players who are yet to play Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.
Digimon fans who have already played and have a save file for Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth can import their save file and receive several bonuses in the process. A story campaign spanning 18 chapters that sees Keisuke starting out with no Digimon before stumbling upon three Digimon that are about to be scrapped in which he selflessly decides to train one as his first fighter and allow the other two to walk away; essentially saving all three Digimon from certain destruction.
Lead character Keisuke really looks the part as a man on a mission to reclaim his memories with a set of Digivice goggles reminiscent to a virtual reality headset that he utilises to communicate with his friends and follow anyone that he suspects may be involved, while other human characters are encountered that have trained their own Digimon. There is an extensive roster of digital monsters known as Digimon between allies, enemies and guests with almost 100 new Digimon that were not featured in the prequel. As usual, Digimon can digivolve into an advanced evolution with greater capabilities, although there is also the potential to devolve into an inferior Digimon through losing battles.
Turn-based combat involves every ally, enemy and guest Digimon having their own position within the player turn timeline in which the Digimon is able to strategically use a skill such as a physical attack dealing 65 Earth damage to an enemy and simultaneously having a 10% chance of increasing defence by 10% or automatically attack an enemy Digimon, while there is also the possibility to use an item from your inventory to restore your Digimon’s health (HP) or skill (SP) as well as guarding, escaping or changing.
XP or EXP as it is referred to in Digimon can be gained towards levelling up by each individual Digimon when they have participated and particularly won a battle with battles also rewarding the player with yen, while some battles even yield prizes. It is important to earn XP as levelling up improves the capabilities of that specific Digimon which is essential to competing with tougher opposing Digimon. For instance, upon winning his first battle; Gotsumon levels up from level 5 to 6 resulting in an improvement of maximum health from 340 to 350, maximum skill from 34 to 35, attack from 46 to 47, defence from 60 to 61, magical skill attacks and reduced damage received by magical skill attacks from 41 to 42 and speed from 36 to 37, alongside providing guard charge as a new skill.
Environment design has some variation between Eden’s aesthetic that is seemingly based upon the notion of how digital information looks when being sent and received as Eden is an area designed for people to communicate and lead their Digimon into battle, while there are further environments such as an internet café. However, players who have already experienced Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth will notice that a large quantity of environments has been recycled.
Downloadable content is available including the NX Bundle that allows players to unlock two further Digimon comprising of Alphamon NX and Gallantmon NX for the price of £3.29.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to attack an enemy Digimon; holding R then pressing X to escape; pressing select to let your Digimon act independently; pressing triangle to pause gameplay, while opening the Digivice to view the Digimon field guide, look through your inventory, save your progress and more besides; tapping the touch screen to display the DigiLine; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing left, right, up or down on the d-pad to move Keisuke during on-foot exploration or navigating between menus whilst battling an enemy Digimon; and pressing start to display the title menu, alongside various scenarios and combinations in which certain buttons have different contexts.
Graphically, Digimon on Vita is a high quality port with excellent character models for every human and Digimon character during cutscenes, dialogue scenes and battles that are faithful recreations from other forms of Digimon’s entertainment media which all performs at a consistently smooth frame-rate with some nice effects to convincingly showcase the power behind each Digimon’s abilities.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, Digivice menus, online battles menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, d-pad and face buttons, although there is no support for navigation via the right analogue stick, touch screen and rear touch pad. Menu backgrounds are somewhat minimalist as they contain the title logo with shapes appearing and disappearing on a white background.
Japanese voice-overs from exceptionally talented Japanese voice-over artists have been retained with English subtitles, while sound effects include Keisuke walking around and using items, alongside Digimon attacking each other during battle and ambience. Composer Masafumi Takada has created some new and remixed songs, but the majority of the soundtrack remains as it was in the prequel.
The trophy list includes 46 trophies with 33 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Ultra-Long Combo bronze trophy for landing a combo of 3 or more attacks and the Date Time bronze trophy for seeing a good impression event for the first time. Harder trophies include the Digimon Master silver trophy for registering 300 Digimon in the Digimon field guide and the Infinite Medal Collector gold trophy for collecting 700 types of Digimon medals. Online multiplayer trophies including the Transformation bronze trophy for changing your avatar in online mode for the first time; the By Another Name bronze trophy for changing your title in online mode for the first time; and The Ten-Titled One bronze trophy for getting at least 10 titles in online mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 30 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are two difficulty levels relating to battle difficulty including normal and hard with the major differences being that opposing Digimon are noticeably more aggressive in the sense of having a greater awareness of your Digimon’s weaknesses and attempting to utilise that to their advantage. A risk and reward element is also introduced as the hard battle difficulty offers rewards of more money and items when winning battles during gameplay set to the hard battle difficulty.
Online multiplayer supports 2 players in player vs. player online ranking, event and custom battles that replicate the turn-based gameplay in single player, alongside ad-hoc multiplayer for 2 players situated locally that both have a Vita as a form of local multiplayer. Online multiplayer also features battle missions that offer rewards such as coins, titles and accessories for achieving each objective including completing 30 battles, winning 10 battles without using recovery skills, attacking over 15 times in battle and much more besides.
Replayability stems from a progressively unfolding story told throughout 18 chapters in which almost 100 Digimon battle it out, level up and evolve, while there is also a New Game + mode for players to experience the story in a different way, alongside two difficulty levels and player vs. player online and ad-hoc battles that will collectively have players returning for many hours worth of Digimon storytelling, training and battles.
- Title: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory
- Developer: Media Vision
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- System: PS4 and PS Vita
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: Yes (Cross-save between Vita and PS4/Save import from Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth)
- Players: 1 (Story Campaign Mode)/2 (Player vs. Player Online or Ad-Hoc Battles)
- Memory Card Space Required: 2.691GB (Version 1.04)