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8th November
2021
written by Splash

Title: Digimon Survive
Platform: PC, Switch (and other platforms, but do they matter)
Genre: Visual Novel, Strategy RPG
Language: English (Japanese audio)
Company: Bandai Namco
Summary: We survived

Story:

I put 55 hours into the game and probably will never bother going back in.
Characters: Spoilers
More details in the day-to-day impressions below.
Callbacks to Adventure kids are either lovely or eye-rolling:
-Shuuji pressuring from dad and bro (jyou moments)
-Shuuji volunteering to be decoy (jyou moment)
-Chibimon/DemiVeemon
-overprotective sibling stuff
There are so many more but at this point I’m too tired of Adventure to bother, so I’ll leave it someone else who’s more interested lel

My “favorite” in the end is probably Falcomon, and then Minoru by extension :V
Graphics: All the live2d work makes me lol tbh, but at the end of the day, they didn’t even program proper lip syncing. Why

The excessive back and forth motion blurs during many scenes give me headaches, and apparently my husband as well. Not good. For my case, I can literally not look at the screen during audio parts, but hubby would still need to read the text, so I can imagine it’s just that much worse for him. Also, having to look away in the first place is just ????

Please stop with the vertigo

Battle sprites are pretty cute, but really scream mobile game quality with the live2d and chibiness. For me, this is definitely an overall downgrade to the Cyber Sleuth series with its full 3d models.

Sound: Opening piece with the bittersweet violin is gucci. Uhh, waiting for anything else that meets that standard thus far. The “horror” track that consists of like the same 8-pitch patterns over and over slowly is really, REALLY overused.

Annnnd nothing better came up in the end. Golden route has better music diversity at least?? But when the difference is going from 2 overused pieces to 4 overused pieces, it’s… still not great.

After the nice jammies Cyber Sleuth provided, I had better expectations. I’m guessing they didn’t put much budget into the music department for this title for… Bamco reasons. ???

Ending verdict, that opening piece and its small plethora of arrangements were all the game had for pieces I’d even consider taking home. Fire Emblem Fates Ocean’s grey waves moment, and we all know how jank that story is. No but seriously Fates jammies are actually top tier? I’ve seen people “complain” about Fates music “overusing” the grey waves riff, but have these people actually fully listened to all 8 discs of the OST? Lulz

Gameplay: No turn limit??
The game feels like I’m playing a much more basic version of FEH on maps that are like 10x larger which is just gross pace-wise. At least flier movement exists, cuz I’m not dealing with it.

Thankfully, higher evolutions gain better movement as well as attack range, including AOEs to “help” increase the speed of the gameplay. Quotations because depending on the difficulty level, enemies can get ridiculously tanky, so turns previously spent moving transition into turns spent mindlessly whaling moves onto the same enemy over and over.
Replay Value: Replays are expected to get other endings, and there are mandatory deaths in the first playthrough as devs have warned.
Day-by-day impressions:
Day 1 impressions: Aside from taking 2 hours to cover approximately one anime episode worth of content due to text padding, slow UX, and even slower loading times (although I’m assuming loading is better on the PC than on Switch)… it’s s’ok so far. Seriously though, some scenes actually feel 100% unnecessary such as the tidbit before going through the tunnel, and some transitions that happen on the other side of it. The Adventure references are kind of eye-rolling at this point tbh but that’s also because I’m tired of Adventure all the time.

I’m glad they finally put Auto text progression, but it’s not really well done???? They have the basic slow/normal/fast text speeds, but fast is WAYYY too fast on non-audio lines. Even on fast, audio lines take too long to auto proceed. I’ve set it to normal, and more often than not, I feel text flows more naturally if I’m not playing on Auto. Worse yet is that when Auto is on, you can’t fast forward audio lines, but you can fast forward text only lines?? What gives.

I have issues with the pauses on auto in some other games like the recent Three Hopes, but that still allows fast forward on audio lines when the auto setting is on. I don’t know why certain games are just this bad at UX.

I’m not a fan of too many hidden parameters in a game, so I have qualms in general about it so far, but I’ll wait until a blind full playthrough before really going more into it since I guess Survive is all about that hidden experience.

Day 2: *Spoilers starting in from this day cuz idgaf* Good to see parameters aren’t so hidden, they’re just stuffed somewhere into the pause menu without ever telling you.
Around 10 hrs in and I’m still waiting for the gang to stop bickering like 10-year-olds. These guys are 14+?? (except for Miu and Saki) Shuuji is especially disappointing (and none of the other kids are helping and I want to yell at them all). Hubby and I are expecting him to go out second after you-know-who.

Also after about 5 hrs of letting dialogue run on auto, I’m finally skipping around manually cuz THEY WON’T STOP PADDING OUT THE BICKERING. Please do some actual character development instead. There’s a lot of background text written about characters in their profiles that seem interesting, but BARELY ANY OF IT COMES OUT WHEN WE’RE ACTUALLY INTERACTING WITH THE CHARACTERS. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s a first playthrough and they intentionally make it this bad, but it’s NOT A GOOD EXPERIENCE.
The Saki/Ryo scene felt completely out of place to me because ever since arriving upon the island, I don’t feel like I even saw the two even interact with each other in any meaningful way. Uhhh??? All of the evolution scenes in general except main protag (cuz protag privileges) have felt similarly out of place.

Day 3: As we assumed, he didn’t make it. He just took too long to get there and it sucks that all the other kids don’t even try to help. Adult finally came back in time to save the third victim and now all of a sudden we’re at the final battle? I don’t really believe it, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if the first playthrough forces you to end it there. Ugh.

The game backlog is big enough I just hope there are guides to completing everything efficiently upon NG+, because I don’t have enough care for these characters and the gameplay itself is too monotonous to bother continuing to handhold them all blindly.

Day 4: Weekday time, so not as much time to play.
I now have a team of 4 Yatagaramon/Crowmon and I’m just turn-one ending boss maps, this is fine. Flier emblem ftw.

Professor’s origin was predictable. Haru/Renamon part is also extremely predictable and ruins the lead-up tbh. Easy to tell it’s the same seiyuu and attitude even without using headphones. Despite all that, it’s still more interesting than any of the interactions the kids have had with each other up thus far. In fact, the only unique interactions I can really remember at this point are Minoru’s ability to distinguish differences in wild vegetation, and Saki changing in the gym cuz haha hentai.

Day 5: Good to see first playthrough isn’t forced to end there lol. At this point, that’s what the expectations are.
Zoomed through part 8 which was a mid version of Adventure ep 21 (this whole game feels like a mid version of original Adventure so far tbh). Heading into part 9 now

Day 6: I seem to be on Harmony route but now wishing I’d taken Wrath LOL. Game is taking too long to get places, and I knew this from day 1, but it’s dragged on this long lol. I really can’t believe the kids STILL haven’t figured out who Haru really is, it’s big L/Leviathan syndrome and I honestly hate it. These kids have no imagination!!!! =w= And since it’s first playthrough, everyone sucks at their worst and it’s really quite not fun.

Anyway, looking to start speedrunning even faster so I can just do the NG+ sooner, since it’s pretty boring watching these kids slowwwwwwly getting themselves killed atm.

Day 7-8: Semi-speedran that ending after adjusting settings I should’ve set in the first place (“fast” really is still too fast on auto, but with the lackluster quality of their lines, it was pretty much just as appropriate after all). Kaito fortunately wasn’t AS bad at the end of Harmony route, but the ending itself was still eye-rolling. Literally skipped the credits on the ending, diving immediately into NG+ to get golden route.

Day 9: Following this guide because I definitely cannot be assed to save-scum every affinity decision, and this guide does an excellent job of saving me time of where to go to optimize these things to begin with. Kudos for the suffering so the rest of us don’t have to (suffer as much)!

Golden route makes soooo much more sense except when you get to Minoru’s issue, but since at that point I’m skipping everything that’s repeated anyway, it feels less of an eye-roll. :V

Overall: 6/10. Completed harmony and golden “truth” route at 55 hrs. This is my most generous score that encompasses golden route’s existence. If my bias for Digimon were at an all-time high, I was tempted to give it 7, but I just cannot for this (also, it’s not Savers lol). If someone were to only do the first playthrough, it’d easily be 5/10 or even worse. I’ll spare tagging it that low as it does deserve the golden route playthrough imo. I just… wish it weren’t locked to NG+

No JP text in the English version is a big bummer especially when so many other games are truly one version for all regions, but I don’t see myself buying the game more than once anyway so that’ll be that.

Switch loading times are soooo badddd aaahhghggh

At least translation quality seems to have improved significantly from Cyber Sleuth. There are still the occasional pronoun mishaps and grammar errors (screenshots on these later), but far fewer and in between. I’d also say they overuse certain idioms at times to get the point across–since I don’t have the JP text to direct compare, I’ll just note they used “cleaned their clocks” 3 times during my Day 3 playthrough.

Also this bit:

After many many hours of Survive story, just running through a few support conversations in Fire Emblem Three Hopes, you can really feel the difference in the quality of localizations. @_@; Well, even before localization to a certain extent, it also speaks to the quality of the game to begin with *cough*

Things like k0t@ku’s review are part of the reason why I think it was a poor decision (dev’s end) to be forced to go through a more depressing ending on first playthrough.
I’ve played other VNs that do that too, but not ones that were this much more of a downer lol (or required so much work for a NG+, skip function not being instantaneous and having to do all the mediocre battles again wastes a lot of time). It should’ve been Undertale style where your behaviors actually do matter (lel at people hacking max affinity on Ryo for it to not matter)

If a person comes in and plays the game blindly, this is the impression they’ll be left with. The game does tell you in the end that things would be different if you saved those who fell, but it’s a single rando popup with other stuff that can get easily overlooked and make a person still just not bother continuing.

There’s a good section of people who would defend the game on it being a VN-not-a-sRPG, but it’s not even strong as a VN???
VN-wise, it still needed a lot to meet up to the standards I have of many other VNs I’ve played and loved. There were soooo many opportunities to go in depth with the characterizations in the game, but they didn’t do any better than an anime would’ve done in the end. (Harmony route spoilers) Miu’s stalker bit for an example. How did it start? Where was the build up? All we know is that it “happened”, it sucked, Kaito beat him up hard, they moved out to the boonies because of it only to get bullied by the local folk anyway, Miu became the spooky girl as result of the bullying, yadayada vague scraps left and right. Miu’s character itself makes enough sense, but I never got enough of her perspective to ever actually sympathize with her rebellious tendencies against Kaito. And Kaito is written like every other typical imoutocon… with an extra tendency to beat things up. Instead, we’re left having to deal with them being edgy with each other for hours until they either DIE or other characters finally figure out that they need to DO something aka Golden Route.

Another example would be Saki and Ryo again–There’s pretty much no build up to the Floramon evolution scene, leaving me completely perplexed when the scene happened instead of touched whatsoever. Many of the story evolutions in here feel completely out of wing as well, but this one in particular was the most awkward one to me.

Again, these… scraps MIGHT have been enough if this were an anime, but I’ve come to expect more details in a VISUAL NOVEL. If you’re going to have someone spend the time reading what’s going on, PUT THE DETAILS IN. I felt like all the words that could’ve been used to write out more valuable scenarios were instead used to draw out repetitive arguments and other such conflicts with obvious resolutions. I’m left feeling very non-committed to any of the characters in the end, even at the end of the golden “truth” ending because of it.

sRPG aspect really is just that bad though. I did appreciate a difficulty spike on golden route, but the game mechanics, maps, and things like movement restrictions are still ass. I’m definitely just going back to Fire Emblem now that I’ve finished golden route, as even the “bad” paths on the two recent 3H games have given me a lot more to appreciate than this game ever did in its entirety.

For VNs, just play, and REPLAY/REWATCH/WHATEVER something like 13 Sentinels instead. I honestly regret the money I threw at Digimon Survive that could’ve gone to getting 13 Sentinels instead.

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