Digimon World: Next Order is a complex and incredibly in-depth RPG that, while difficult for newcomers to access, will provide dedicated players with countless hours of digital fun.
Digimon World: Next Order
Developer: Bandai Namco
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 code for review
Digimon has always had a tough go when it comes to video games. Despite their major differences, the series is inevitably compared to the titanic Pokémon franchise. Next Order is a fantastic example of how Digimon differentiates itself from its fraternal step-twin.
The story of Next Order is pretty standard for a Digimon game, though like much of the game, these similarities are intentional homages to the original Digimon World, the first game in the franchise on the PS1. As a young male or female, you’re accidentally pulled into the Digital World from the cozy world we’re used to. You immediately meet Jijimon, an old curmudgeon of a Digimon that shows you the ropes (another allusion to Digimon World).
With the Digital World suddenly under attack from hordes of menacing Machinedramon, it’s up to you and your Digimon partners, alongside a few other teenage tamers, to figure out the origin of the Machinedramon attacks, simultaneously saving the Digital World and returning to your home world. It’s a fun story, if not especially deep. The characters are all likeable, with the Digimon standing out. Each Digimon NPC has its own personality and manner of speaking. A lot of these are pretty funny, like Kuwagamon screaming in all-caps, and they all give the world a great deal of personality.
Next Order’s gameplay is where the game really shines, largely because of its ridiculously in-depth Digivolution system. Unlike in the anime or other Digimon RPGs, there are no single Digivolution paths for any Digimon. Nearly every single type of Digimon has an enormous tree of later forms they can become. Every Digivolution depends entirely on a huge number of variables that are a part of “caring” for your two Digimon partners.
Next Order is based more on the Tamagotchi-esque style of Digimon gameplay than the turn-based gameplay system of recent titles. This means that in between battles, you’ll be feeding your Digimon, bringing them to the washroom, praising them, scolding them, training them, etc. These things all affect which Digivolution path your partner will follow, going so far as to depend on if you feed them food that they prefer, or how frequently you let them get fatigued. There are so many factors at play that your every move matters, which adds a ton of thought to anything and everything you do.
This is further complicated by the life-cycles of your Digimon. Your partners eventually die of old age and are reborn as eggs with enhanced stats, based on their training in their previous lives. This gives you the chance to try out new Digimon, while simultaneously trying to get new evolutions. The system is full of details that never feel unfair, so anyone willing to put the time in to learn it will have countless hours of Digivolving and stats-building ahead of them. Unfortunately, this also means that anyone who picks up Next Order looking for a less complicated RPG will find it frustrating, and near-impossible to get into the game. (And for those people, I highly recommend the exceptional Digimon Cyber Sleuth)
Outside of Digivolution, Next Order’s gameplay is surprisingly more simple, with its own complexities. Instead of instructing your Digimon each turn, your Digimon and any enemies you encounter fight one another automatically, doing their own thing until you distinctly tell them otherwise. While you can tell them to use Super and Ultimate moves once they’ve stored up enough energy, your Digimon will use their own tactics in battle. You mainly encourage them by shouting positive words at them throughout the battle, which is especially effective if done while they’re attacking. This less hands-on system puts more focus on the stats you’ve improved for each Digimon, rather than your own battle tactics.
Outside of battle, you’ll recruit various Digimon NPCs to live in your town, Floatia, Next Order’s hub area. After doing a side-quest for each Digimon they’ll move to Floatia, improving the town’s “Prosperity” while bringing their own unique services to the city. For example, Numemon will give you portable toilets, while Wormmon tells you your Partners’ food preferences. This adds incentive to running around to collect random Digimon to improve Floatia, which is especially nice since the side-quests are normally somewhat boring fetch-quests and riddles.
On the visual side of things, Next Order is slick, especially for a game that originated on the Vita in Japan. Next Order is on-par with most anime-based games on the PS4, with bright and vibrant colors that light up each area. There’s a great variety in each map as well, whether it’s the hard-drive littered Server Desert, or the glowing Logic Volcano. The Digimon all look great as well, in a way that compliments the original heavily-shaded designs.
Next Order’s sound is fantastic, with a number of songs that stick with you even after you’re done playing. Battle themes are energetic with a bit of optimism, while the map areas all have different variations for day, evening, and night time. The voice acting in the game is quite well done, as each dub actor really nails the look and feel of their characters. The voiced Digimon are great as well, and it’s particularly nice to see your Partner Digimon make more animalistic noises.
The Final Word
The complexity of Digimon World: Next Order is both its greatest strength and its most intimidating pitfall. While the more daring and dedicated fans will love the remarkably deep Digivolution system and the homages to previous entries in the series, newer or more casual fans will likely be scared away by the importance of every single action they take. Nonetheless, Next Order is a dream come true for the most committed Digimon fans.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good