Digimon Survive review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Witchcraft/Hyde, Inc.
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

The most important thing to know about Digimon Survive is that, more than anything else, it?s a visual novel. It has the occasional turn-based tactical battle thrown in, but if you play it, you?ll spend about three-quarters of your time with this game either talking to your fellow classmates or exploring scenes to find things that you can talk about with your classmates.

Basically, Digimon Survive is a lot closer to the Utawarerumono series that any monster game that you might have compared it to. Which, for me, is unfortunate, since a) after sinking about 30 hours in Coromon, I was in the mood for collecting and training and battling even more monsters, Pok?mon-style, and b) the last time I played a Digimon game was Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ? Hacker?s Memory, which was also a very story-heavy take on the long-running series.

Once I adjusted my expectations, while I wouldn?t say that I loved Digimon Survive, at the very least, I came to appreciate it. As visual novels go, it asks a fair amount of players, which is more than can be said for a lot of other games in the genre. It expects you to be an active participant in the story, rather than a passive bystander; you need to work to improve your relationships not just with your classmates, but also with your monsters. Compared to some visual novels I?ve played, which only ask that you advance the text, that?s a nice amount of engagement.

Of course, that leaves the question of whether the story is any good, and that will depend on how much you can for stories about Japanese students battling evil and trying to survive to the end. It?s pretty overdone at this point, but it?s not actively awful, which means that, on the whole, it?s tolerable.

It also helps that you get the occasional battle to mix things up. Not a lot of battles, and the battles are mostly what you?d expect if you?ve ever played any tactical RPG, but battles nonetheless. The one interesting twist was that in addition to the usual commands, the game also includes a talk command, through which you can not only encourage your squad members, you can also talk to your enemies and try to win them over to your side through conversation.

In other words, it?s entirely fitting for a game that?s so built around dialogue and discussion. Digimon Survive is a talk-heavy game that expects you to spend a lot of time reading, and a little bit of time fighting. That may not be the most enjoyable thing if you just want a Pok?mon substitute, but as visual novels go, it?s one of the better ones.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Digimon Survive Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B