At first, the idea of a massive JRPG based on the Digimon franchise seemed just a tad bit ridiculous. The series had always seemed something of a Pokemon rip off, as it originally released hot on the tail of Pokemon mania in the '90s. And while the two series are quite different beyond a surface level, it's hard not to draw a comparison between the two. But Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition is very much its own game, and a fine one at that.
Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition, a rerelease of sorts of the game from 2015, packs in the base game with Hacker's Story, an extra expansion set during the events of the main story. Together, the two games account for 80-100 hours of gameplay, far more for those that are looking to complete everything the game has to offer. Both games have something of a laughable presentation of what it means to be a hacker and what a glitch is, which can be a bit distracting at first, but that steadily got easier to ignore as the game went on.
In Cyber Sleuth, players are a Digital Detective tasked with solving cases both in the real world and EDEN, a fictional version of the internet somewhat like the Oasis in Ready Player One. A mysterious disease has spread among people that use EDEN, causing their bodies to enter a comatose state. The player is one such person affected by this mysterious disease, though they have been granted a digital body. This digital body allows them to traverse between the digital and physical world with ease, helping them get passed certain barriers and use special abilities. Hacker's Memory follows a different character and offers up a different perspective of the main game. Both are interesting, though the plots can be quite convoluted.
Of all the things to love with Digimon Story, the Digital Monsters themselves are the key standouts. There are over 300 of them to find and train, each with their own abilities. While none of them are quite as iconic as, say, Pikachu, at least some will be recognizable to those with even a passive interest in the franchise. Digievolving and De-Digivolving the Digimon in a party is a lot of fun. There are plenty of options to explore as far as evolutionary trees go, which makes it easier to build a solid team from a few basic Digimon. And, of course, Digimon is a JRPG at its core. Those that want to can absolutely min-max their parties into apex predators. It isn't entirely necessary to do so, but it will certainly help later on in the game, as some late-game battles have a tendency to sharply spike the difficulty.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition is arguably the perfect intro to JRPGs. The opening chapters of the game do a good job of explaining core concepts without overloading players with information and tutorials. There's a lot of nuance to the game, and those that were put off by the beginning of Persona 5 for one reason or another may find that Digimon Story strikes a good balance between hardcore JRPG and newcomer accessibility.
There's just so much to collect and do in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition. It may be daunting to some, and it may be easy to burn out for those that don't regularly play JRPGs, but it's an experience that should please most with even a passive interest in the genre. Digimon Story excels because it cares about its world and source material, and that's something that not a lot of games can get right.
Digimon Story also works surprisingly well. There are some mistranslations peppered in, but they're typically pretty easy to ignore. The game was stable during our time with it, with only the occasional technical hiccup or slowdown. It isn't the most graphically impressive game on the market, but it certainly wasn't bad looking. The art style is like many other JRPgs out there, but the designs of most Digimon are pretty interesting, at least after a few stages of evolution.
The only thing that doesn't make a ton of sense when it comes to Digimon Story is the world itself, though that isn't entirely a bad thing. At the end of the day, players that want to have a good time just have to roll with the oddities of the day to day life of a Cyber Sleuth. It's not an uncommon occurrence to get a text message from a Digimon, nor is it that strange to be sucked into the internet through a TV. It is, in it every sense of the word, a weird world - and that's a key part of Cyber Sleuth's charm. That presentation of an alternate Earth somewhat mirroring ours works in the game's favor. It's simply fun to imaginge Digimon running around a fictionalized version of Japan. Getting sucked into the internet from nearly any electronic never really feels that natural, but it is relatively easy to excuse.
All in all, Cyber Sleuth is worth giving a try for die-hard JRPG fans or those that have wanted to give the genre a shot but found early game tutorials too overbearing. It's a little bit of Persona mixed with a whole lot of Pokemon, and it offers something for fans of both of those franchises. It may have a story that's a little difficult to follow at times, but it more than makes up for it with quite a bit of charm. Players will have to get passed the oddities of Digimon's world, but doing so should prove to be a pretty rewarding experience.
Digimon Story: Cybersleuth Complete Edition is available now. Game Rant was provided a Switch code for this review.