The Digital World is in danger. Evil Machinedramon are attacking and destroying the peace, and it is your job to save it! Step into the shoes of a Digimon Tamer, complete with not one but TWO digital partners as you venture across the Digital World seeking out new allies and discovering the true source of the evil attacks.
For those of you who grew up with Digimon alongside all the other fads of the day, prepare for a blast from the past. Digimon World puts you in the shoes of a generic male or female teen who, upon activating their Digivice (which looks EXACTLY like the rectangular three-buttoned digital pets from way back when) is dragged into the Digital World, witnessing a battle between an evil Machinedramon, and your future partners who currently hold the forms of MetalGarurumon and WarGreymon.
After a brief tutorial on how to battle, your partners-to-be win, and then are reverted back to eggs, at which the same time you discover yourself stranded in the Digital World and given the task of defeating the evil. You hatch your partners and train them up, before venturing out into the Vast Plains to bring more Digimon back to the safehaven of Floatia and build it up into a thriving city.
Thinking back to the Digivices and the classic digital pets, Digimon World plays out very similarly to one of these; your partners must be trained, fed, played with, and even taken to the bathroom (which can often be few and far between in the overworld).
Digimon World blends the aspects of an RPG with the discipline of looking after a pet, which is a pretty odd and unique thing to see in a modern game. Your digital friends can be praised or scolded for their actions, have to be rested after excessive training, and can even be injured in battle and need to be healed. This is not your average RPG; this is a tried and true formula for Digimon games gone by, and one that will have you getting frustrated about decisions you make. The game also makes you realise how short time is, because after a certain while, your faithful friends not only evolve into stronger and sometimes cooler-looking monsters, but they eventually pass away as well – but don’t worry, they come back as an egg.
The battle system is a bit hit-and-miss (no pun intended) in Digimon World; battle encounters are often activated by running into a creature on the overworld (or two or three). As a Tamer, you stand by and give support, which raises Battle Order power; the more points you raise, the more special attacks you can perform. Timing this right can give your Digimon a boost in points, allowing you to perform special moves faster. Attacks from your monster consume MP which once depleted can exhaust your Digimon and prevent them from attacking. Your Digimon can also follow tactical objectives issued during the battle, to conserve MP or go all out, or to change and focus on different targets. The key to winning battles lies in the amount of training you do – with six different categories to boost your Digimon in, its all about fine tuning to suit your needs.
Outside of battles, the gameplay is relatively standard. World exploration begins to get a bit tedious after a while and coupled with slightly repetitive music will eventually begin to drive you mad. Aside from the anime-styled 3D rendering, there isn’t anything super amazing about the environment or the graphics themselves – everything is pretty stock-standard. There is an abundance of items to be picked up though, which allow you to feed your Digimon and find their favourite food, increasing their mood and making them level up faster. Digivolving, unlike the show, follows an evolution-like structure where they keep evolving until they turn back into an egg. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not training my partners enough before venturing out into the world – healing your monsters isn’t easy without items (and you have to wait a while to put them to sleep) and using your beginner items straight away leaves you short on cash, meaning you have to battle to get more. Add to this that there is a LOT of battling to be done to progress the story, and you put yourself at a serious disadvantage because the story takes a good while to get into.
Digimon World: Next Order excels with a fairly easy combat system and simple gameplay mechanics, but I was let down by the repetitiveness of the world and environments, as well as some pretty unresponsive controls (mostly in dialogue sitations). The nostalgia factor and the excitement of evolving my digital partners was what kept me playing, but the drawn-out travel methods and consistent grinding in training didn’t impress me too much. Digimon World: Next Order is a bit of a mixed bag – die hard fans will likely love it, but newcomers may be turned away by some of the gameplay mechanics and extreme grinding.