Title: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory

Platform: PS4, PSVita

Reviewed on: PS4

Genre: JRPG

Players: Single player, Online Vs.







Written by Whistler 1st February 2018















In recent years Digimon has become a rather odd experience in that it’s one of the forgotten franchises from the 90s that slowly died through the 2000’s only to suddenly start a bit of a semi-successful re-emergence as of late. This goes doubly so in the video game market with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth followed by Digimon World: Next Order both releasing in February of 2016 and 2017 respectfully. While both titles had their share of clunkiness and struggled to shake off that ‘done-on-the-cheap’ PSVita vibe I’d gladly admit to the countless hours I invested in them. So another year has passed (though not quite February, shame on you publishers) and here we have a pseudo sequel to 2016’s digital venture with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory; because adding a two on the end isn’t JRPG enough.


For the uninitiated, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory, much like it’s predecessor, is a turn based JRPG of the Persona and Pokemon variety. Rather than a direct sequel though, Hacker’s Memory actually takes place concurrently alongside the the original title serving to fill in gaps and give another perspective on the world the series has created. While Hacker’s Memory doesn’t require knowledge of the previous entry it does feel like it dumps you in full well expecting you to have done so and meeting up with notable characters will likely lack the impact they’re meant to have.

























In a bold twist to expectations though, player’s will walk in the shoes of one Amazawa Keisuke, a bug eyed fresh faced hacker and self confessed side-character. He even makes an offhand comment that this story is likely not about him and it certainly shows given his absolutely bland design which you’ll either come to appreciate or still find yourself wishing the former protagonist would show back up. Turns out in the near future cityscape of Shibuya your online account is tied to almost everything and losing it tarnishes any semblance of trust society has of you (so sorta like today if you admit to not having a facebook profile). He’s even been expelled from High School as not having an account is common amongst hackers who discard it to avoid being discovered after criminal activities.

In a desperate attempt to hunt down the culprit and reclaim is account he joins an up-and-coming team of Hackers known as Hudie as they work together to make a living and get the source of the recent account raids plaguing the interwebs.


I still pretty much despite just how uninteresting our protagonist is, the supporting cast this time around is far more fleshed out. While they still come across as the sort of B-team side cast their interactions and character arcs are the saving grace for what has so far been a 8 hour snoozefest of a narrative that should be interesting yet often falls flat. Most of team Hudie failed to leave an impression with the exception of Erika Mishima, a introverted hacker prodigy who is heavily tied to the game’s title and main theme. Several characters from the previous entry also make their appearances accompanied with some much needed backstory that was absent from Cyber Sleuth.


Alas the crux of the matter lies heavily in Hacker’s Memory narrative, or rather, how the narrative is presented thanks in part to delivery and the pacing set due to aspects of the gameplay. Alas Hacker’s Memory fails to unchain itself from that cheap PSVita feel on the PS4 and overly relies on typically stilted visual novel-esque dialogue scenes to convey the story. Because of this and the dated visuals the title suffers from a very lukewarm beginning coupled with exposition dump after exposition dump rather than subscribing to a show don’t tell approach. Perhaps it’s due to spending over 60 hours in Cyber Sleuth but I honestly found myself struggling to stay invested after maybe and hour or two each time I sat down to play Hacker’s Memory. The story itself should be interesting and character interactions can be very meaningful at times, but it repeatedly hits the breaks when the narrative gets up to a decent speed to block you with dull side quests or to sideline you to another plotline altogether.

























Narrative pacing aside the problem is Hacker’s Memory simply feels too similar to it’s predecessor, far too many aspects are near identical to a such a degree that Hacker’s Memory feels more standalone expansion than it does full blown release. Locals are recycled on mass with no hint of freshening up to at least not make it feel like you’re playing the same game from 2016. On Top of that, while it’s nice that there’s something around an additional a hundred Digimon to battle and collect (increasing from 249 to 340 in total) the combat is the same baby’s first JPRG. There are something like 8 elemental types to consider with their own collection of rock-paper-scissor dynamics but these honestly felt like they could be ignored for most battles besides a few on the hard difficulty. Instead the important dynamic to remember is the relations between the four attributes: Data, Vaccine, Virus and Free Digimon types. It’s important to have at least one of each of the first three types to cover your bases as each type can deal double damage to it’s counterpart while halving it’s effectiveness to the other. Especially on hard mode (which phones it in with the lazy “give the enemies more numbers” approach) understanding the dynamic between the trio is key to handling the more difficult boss fights but honestly besides that you could be forgiven for simple hitting the autobattle button for next to all random encounters.


The game does implement a new kind of battle system in the form of Dominion Battles but they felt so sluggishly slow that they have an air of stapled on about them. Dominion Battles, simply put, have you taking on teams of hackers with an additional 2 team mates with their own digimon parties where the aim is to control as many points on a board to win. Each character can move up to two spaces, occupying a numbered square nets that many points as long as the enemy team doesn’t move onto said square. Should two opposing characters occupy the same space then battle commences where each participating Digimon only has one turn each, damage is permanent for the Dominion Battle and items are disabled.

In these battles it’s better to not focus on defeating enemies since you have a limited amount of turns to accrue the required points and often a single skirmish won’t be enough to decommission an enemy player.

Everything else bar some little aesthetic customizations to your character and digimon, remains very much the same; once you’ve battled a certain digimon enough times you’ll accrue enough data to be able to recreate them at the Digi Lab to add to your team. The Digi Lab once again acts as a sort of all-in-one Pokemon centre that serves as your go-to for all your digimon needs including digivolutions, items, farming, training, revisiting dungeons and battling online.

























When all is said and done though I feel rather apprehensive when it comes to deciding to recommend this title to both newcomers and returning fans. Ultimately Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory reuses a ton of recycled assets leaving it feeling dated and done on the cheap, from the same low resolution textures down to the an almost identical soundtrack.

I’m hard pressed to suggest buying this game as it is now, too much feels the same and after spending 60+ hours on Cyber Sleuth, paying almost the same as I would for a full blown AAA release for what feels like an expansion still leaves me feeling bitter.



Pros:                  

Tons of Digimon to capture,

Some poignant themes while remembering to have light heartedness to it,

Decent side cast of characters with interesting character arcs.

 

Cons:

The exact same unchallenging combat,

Poorly paced narrative,

Dated PSVita presentation,

Too many copy+pasted assets,

Feels more like an expansion than a full release.

 

Final verdict,

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory scores a lukewarm 6.5/10.

 

Written by,

Whistler

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