Recently announced visual novel and strategy RPG hybrid, Digimon Survive, a multiplatform game based on the Digimon franchise — which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, is a departure from what many are used to. Despite this, plenty of longtime fans are excited from just the small amount of information and gameplay footage revealed so far. This is due to several factors including but not limited to: resembling the first Digimon anime series, Digimon Adventure, through what we’ve been told about the story so far, and being a better return to form than other recent Digimon anime. Digimon Survive is the anime inspired experience older fans have been hoping for, and the following reasons help explain why.
A Story Similar to the Most Well Known Series
To any Digimon fan, this setup may sound familiar: a group of teenagers on a school camping trip find themselves unexpectedly lost in the Digital World and meet their Digimon partners as they seek a way to get back home. This group is led by Takuma Momozuka, who wears the signature goggles and is partnered with Agumon. This is undoubtedly similar to the first Digimon anime series, Digimon Adventure, with the only difference being that these characters get lost on a school camping trip rather than summer camp. While the Japan exclusive PSP RPG, Digimon Adventure, was the only game to be strictly based on an anime series, fans already know that story, so Digimon Survive will be able to tell a brand new, if similar, tale to those familiar to the franchise.
The trailer for the game also mentions danger, death, and destruction, darker themes that fall more in line with the Digimon Tamers anime series, which many fans consider to be the best or most well written of the franchise. Although Tamers is typically known as the darkest of the franchise, plenty of others have had their share of darker moments as well: between several tragic deaths in Digimon Adventure, brainwashing and child abduction in Digimon Adventure 02 (Zero Two), Digimon killer Gizumon in Digimon Data Squad (also known as Digimon Savers), and virus infection in Digimon Tri, Digimon has had some pretty messed up moments that are much less kid friendly than expected. Most of the original Digimon fans are now adults, so it’s understandable that Digimon Survive would highlight having darker themes to interest an older audience.
Anime Inspired Digivolution Mechanics
Digivolution has always differed between Digimon games in terms of how it works and when it can be achieved, even in the most recent titles. In Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and its sequel Hacker’s Memory, digivolution is optional once the requirements are met, and players can choose to de-digivolve their Digimon as well — which has several benefits for doing so. In Digimon World: Next 0rder, digivolution is still dependent on stat requirements, but only happens after a certain amount of time and the player has less control over when their Digimon digivolve and what they digivolve into until much later in the game.
What Digimon Survive does differently than these games is it makes digivolution temporary in a similar way to the first three anime series, where it can only be done during battle and requires a specific amount of energy, rather than having a Digimon stay in its digivolved form outside of battle until the proper requirements are met. This has the potential to create more tension during battles, waiting until the right moment to digivolve to give players an advantage during a particularly tough battle. By doing this, it can help players feel more involved as if they were commanding the Digimon themselves rather than through the characters.
Digimon Anime Has Heavily Changed
While Digimon Frontier was the first anime series to be largely different from those which came before it — having the main cast turn into Digimon rather than having partners, more recent anime series Digimon Fusion and Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters have had some key differences as well. Fusion focuses on digi-fusing, as you may infer from the name, and the partner Digimon of the main cast don’t have the same traditional levels as past Digimon partners do, instead combining with other Digimon to power up. Appli Monsters takes another approach; having a subspecies of Digimon, known as Appmon, come from different smartphone apps — although similar to Digimon Fusion, Appmon always combine to become stronger rather than digivolve themselves.
From what we’ve seen so far, Digimon Survive seems to return to the more traditional formula with Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, and Mega digivolution levels. Although other types of digivolution, such as DNA digivolution and armor digivolution (as seen in Digimon: The Movie and Digimon Adventure 02) could also be a feature, at the time of writing neither have been confirmed.
Digimon Adventure Tri Was A Disappointment
While the Digimon Adventure Tri movie series has provided fans with a sequel to the original Digimon Adventure for the past five years as a way to celebrate the 15th anniversary, many were disappointed by a number of factors. These include the change in art style, poor quality writing, inconsistent character development, missing characters, and plot threads automatically solved without anyone in the story realizing the problem. Even though Digimon Adventure will be getting another sequel for the 20th anniversary where the cast will be even older, from the previously discussed reasons it seems Digimon Survive does more to represent what fans enjoyed about the first three anime series.
Time to Go Digital
Even if Digimon Survive is unlike what fans are familiar with in terms of gameplay in the last few years, it provides the franchise the chance to experiment with another genre and take cues from the anime series many of us are so fond of while also creating its own story. It may be in the form of a game rather than a show or movie, but an increased level of interaction could ultimately help older fans identify with it more. Whatever the case, fans of the Digimon franchise have plenty to look forward to with Digimon Survive.
Digimon Survive will launch on PC, PlayStaytion 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2019.