A week ago, Bandai Namco held the long-awaited Digimon Con on Youtube. It covered a wide range of topics, including, and most notably for us gamers, the subject of Digimon video games. It also showcased the Digimon card game, the anime, and many other topics that you should probably read about on WithTheWill, since we, here at Grindosaur, are more concerned with video games in general.
Foremost, I have to point out that you can watch the stream yourself. This was not possible in the last few days but has changed in the meantime. You can find the stream under the following YouTube link.
The topic we all are most interested in is Digimon Survive, and there was a lot to hear and see about - because, before the interview even started, we were shown a beautiful trailer! I mean it. Check out the YouTube link around the 1:34 mark.
So now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Right at the beginning, we were told by Kazumasa Habu, the producer of the Digimon Games Division at Bandai Namco, that the development team of Digimon Survive had changed, and that's why the game had been delayed so often. In the same breath, he added that this was also why no release date could be given yet, but they wanted to make up for it soon. He also asked for patience and a little more time, as there were still some areas that needed to be improved. "When it's done," in principle, is a good attitude, if only the final product doesn't disappoint - think back to the Cyberpunk 2077 incident.
During the ongoing interview, Habu-san, as the director is often called, explained that Digimon Survive is a combination of a text adventure and turn-based strategy. Also, its story would differ significantly from previous Digimon games and the general franchise's orientation since they want to appeal to a more mature audience.
Story-wise, one should expect a darker world that portrays more adult themes and interweaves them with Digimon. Among other things, self-harm, expressed by hurting one's Digimon, and a rejecting action towards one's digital partner, symbolizing an inner conflict, will be one of the topics focused on. Even the death of a friend or partner is said to become part of the plot. Quite dark themes the game wants to touch on, and certainly not suitable for every fan.
Technically speaking, the story will be told as a classic, chapter-based text adventure, which means that you will advance the story through conversations and decisions. You have two ways to progress in those chapters: Free Expedition and Exploration. The former is said to be limited per chapter. In general, you will be able to visit different places with your friends, selected via an area map, to look around, explore, interact, and converse with your allies.
These conversations are an integral part of Digimon Survive, as they increase your intimacy with the person in question, which in turn leads to you receiving items from them or their support in battles. In addition, there will be small events that depend on your friendships. Digivolutions are also supposed to be dependent on your interpersonal connections. Unfortunately, the game will only be partially voiced, which is a bummer, considering its story will be progressed mainly through interactions.
So while you play, explore the world and have conversations, there will always be a chance to encounter tactical battles, in which you can use up to 10 different Digimon. The combat itself takes place on a kind of checkerboard, which uses differences in height as obstacles, among other things. In typical FireEmblem style, you command units, send them across the map and let them fight each other as soon as they are in range. During combat, directional differences are relevant, such as the orientation of the attacker to the defender, but you also have to keep tabs on height differences. Type differences, attribute values, attack techniques, and more also flow into the damage calculation, making the combat quite delicate. It seems to be particularly important to be economical with the respective attack techniques, as all moves consume SP. But don't worry, SP is supposed to regenerate throughout the fight, and you can always rely on items to regain your lost SP more quickly.
We also learned that the text adventure parts would alternate to the tactical combat elements at roughly a 7 to 3 ratio - so about twice as much dialogue as combat. Additionally, there will be 12 chapters with three different paths: Morality, Harmony, and Rage. If you complete one of these paths, you will also unlock a hidden route, but we don't know anything about that yet. In addition, a path is supposed to take about 40 hours to complete, which adds up to about 80 to 100 hours of gameplay in total; if you use the Fast Forward functionality, it will, of course, take less time. Also, there is supposed to be a New Game+ mode, which unlocks another postgame and more difficulty levels for dungeons. In those, you can collect previously unobtainable equipment.
Of course, the most critical question on everyone's mind is how many Digimon will be in the game. And sadly, that answer turns out to be somewhat disappointing. In total, there will only be 113 different Digimon, which, due to the story and general setting, consists mainly of wild, animalistic/feral, and botanical Digimon. A list of the Digimon I could spot in the trailer contains the following:
So you already see a lot of old acquaintances and a few surprises that rarely or never appear in games, such as Cerberumon, or Mushroomon. Of course, I'm happy about the inclusion of Kunemon, Floramon, and Triceramon. However, besides that list, we are unsure which Digimon will appear in Digimon Survive, so we probably have to wait until release to find out! Furthermore, Habu-san told us that you would be able to make friends with all the Digimon you encounter in the tactical battles. Though, how difficult or easy this is, is unknown at the moment. However, what is known is that the Digimon you befriend can digivolve independently of any friendships you have built so far. So at least in that regard, you won't be limited.
All in all, we have learned a lot about Digimon Survive, and I am curious to see how the finished product will turn out to be.
Other Digimon Games
In addition to Digimon Survive, fans inquired about the porting and possible continuation of past Digimon games. In this regard, it is essential to emphasize that sales forecasts always overshadowed all project-/product-related answers given. Bandai seemingly would not provide resources for many ports and projects because the projected sales figures were too small. The Digimon video game division, in general, does not seem to have yielded enough return of investment to warrant investments into smaller projects. So one can only hope that future game releases will generate more revenue to fund further releases and possible remakes, such as porting titles released for the WonderSwan System to current hardware or the remaking of old 3DS titles - both topics brought up during the interview but were shot down.
Digimon Story titles
The Story series has received much attention in recent years, so many fans are interested in seeing the series expand. Questions often arose as to whether Cyber Sleuth and Hacker's Memory would receive a direct sequel, which was denied. However, a new installment within the series has been announced, which will take place in the Digital World and is confirmed to revolve around the Twelve Olympians, i.e., Apollomon, Bacchusmon, Ceresmon, Dianamon, Junomon, Jupitermon, Marsmon, Merukimon, Minervamon, Neptunemon, Venusmon, and Vulcanusmon! This announcement is exciting news since fans want to see more of the Digital World! Especially as its portrayal was lacking during Cyber Sleuth and Hacker's Memory.
Digimon World titles
Now for my favorite series within the Digimon franchise. Several questions came up about a possible port or a complete remake of the original Digimon World from '99 and a potential successor to Next Order. Both are considered, but the team responsible is unsure how to handle them. On the one hand, they want to give long-term fans of the series their money's worth, and on the other hand, they want to attract new customers. And that is apparently quite hard considering the core concept the World series is built on. Speaking of the original Digimon World, the team doesn't know whether they would like to port it or set it up as an independent game. The latter would allow them to include Folder Continent in addition to File Island. Habu-san explicitly asked for fan opinions at this particular point, so we should probably tell him what we want. In conclusion, the answers sounded like Bandai is willing to keep this branch of Digimon games alive without confirmation regarding a potential upcoming release or a team actively working on this series, which seems unlikely due to the wishy-washy answer given.
Several questions arose inquiring about mobile games featuring Digimon, to which Habu-san responded that they were very interested in creating these down the line. Considering each project's overshadowing sales figure projection and Bandai's focus on return on investments, it is safe to assume that this would warrant a gacha-esque mobile game. Case closed.
And that sums up everything relevant to the Digimon Con Games section. Of course, there were a lot of questions about the video game production itself, but they were not Digimon specific. If you're interested in this part, or any other, check out the YouTube stream archive, or visit WithTheWill for more information. On that note, keep on grinding!