Exceptionally balancing its roles as a sequel and a standalone title, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory is a thoroughly enjoyable RPG that mixes a fun but accessible story with wonderfully deep gameplay. Though the game is a bit slow to start, the overall payoff is rewarding and worth the wait.
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory
Developer: Media Vision
Platform: PS4, PS Vita
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 copy for review
I’m of the opinion that Digimon RPGs are vastly underrated. DIgimon World 3 and all of the Nintendo DS World titles are great games in their own right, but the scarcity of copies and the West’s lack of overall Digimon exposure made these titles go under a lot of people’s radars. The fantastic Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth sort of changed that when it came to the West a couple years back, as it was a shockingly complex yet rather accessible turn-based RPG. Hacker’s Memory, the sequel to the original Cyber Sleuth, continues this trend by offering up a different perspective on the original game while providing plenty of original, enjoyable content.
In Hacker’s Memory you play as a high-schooler who has just joined the hacker group “Hudie”. After having your EDEN (internet) account hacked and stolen by a mysterious stranger, everyone thinks you’re a dangerous hacker and criminal. As part of Hudie, you solve cases and do jobs for fellow hackers alongside your Digimon companions in the hopes of finding the person who took your account and slandered your name. It’s a story that is fun and easy to get into, with plenty of nods to the previous game for series fans. Hacker’s Memory actually seems to take place at the same time as the original Cyber Sleuth, as there are plenty of overlapping characters, environments, and a few moments where you actually get a glimpse of the protagonist from the first game. None of this detracts from the main story though, so fans who want to start with Hacker’s Memory need not be afraid. It’s not a revolutionary story or anything, but it’s fun enough to keep your attention throughout the game.
Hacker’s Memory has a dungeon-crawling and combat system that is incredibly similar to the original Cyber Sleuth. Alongside your Digimon, you run through different floors of internet servers, which serve as the game’s dungeons. Random encounters with enemy Digimon and Tamer battles with enemy hackers are common. Both situations help you level up your Digimon rather quickly. Hacker’s Memory actually has your Digimon level up unusually fast, which works perfectly with the stellar Digivolution system. It’s also very easy to obtain Digimon. Every encounter with a DIgimon adds to its “scan rate”. Once you’ve encountered a specific Digimon enough to have 100% scan data, you can create the creature in your DigiLab to use it for yourself. It’s a basic system that makes finding Digimon a breeze, which is very much appreciated in a game with so many collectible monsters.
The Digivolution system is the highlight of Hacker’s Memory, as it’s ridiculously complicated without being difficult to understand. Every Digimon has a huge number of Digivolution trees, with many overlapping ones. This means you can experiment with a ton of different Digimon evolutions, especially due to how quickly your Digimon level up. The variety of Digimon available is nothing short of remarkable, meaning it’s easy to find the perfect team. Fans of early series of the show can stick to the iconic Digimon trees like Agumon and Wormmon, while fans of the World games can experiment to find all sorts of obscure Digimon forms. I found myself falling deep into the Digivolution rabbit hole, and I’m sure it’s no exaggeration to say that many other players will too.
The combat itself is sufficient and fun, though not overly complex. Digimon and attacks have different element-like types, each with different advantages and disadvantages to them. You can see the turn order in the top right corner of the screen, which can be changed by using different buffs and moves. Basically, it’s perfectly sufficient for a JRPG. There are different battle modes as well, like the land-grabbing Domination mode and the more intense Colosseum battles, which serve as nice side-dishes in the game. There’s plenty to do outside of the main story as well, with plenty of side-quests, Colosseum fights, and the glorious return of the Medal Man, the guy who pays you to collect Digimon Medals for him. If you played the original Cyber Sleuth, your medal progress carries over from your save file, meaning it’ll be easier to complete his enormous collection. Hacker’s Memory has lots of content to sink your teeth into, so completionists had better set some time aside for this one.
The visuals of Hacker’s Memory are pretty middle of the road, which makes sense since the game is on both the Vita and the PS4. The Digimon themselves look better than the characters, which makes sense. Digimon has always had ridiculous and fun designs, so it’s always a joy to see these translated into 3D. Some could definitely argue that an awful lot of the visuals (including areas) are taken straight from the first Cyber Sleuth, but I’m pretty forgiving of this since the story of Hacker’s Memory takes place in the same area and at the same time as the first game. It’s an understandable complaint however, so I’m by no means writing it off.
In what seems to be a trend for Digimon games, the sound design in Hacker’s Memory is fantastic. The music, which jumps between weird digital beats and smooth, jazzy detective jams, is fun to listen to and in some cases quite memorable. The sound effects are strangely satisfying, as they seem to be a mix of “tech” noises and the tamagotchi sounds that the classic Digivices would play. The voice acting is great as well, with each character sounding exactly how they look.
The Final Word
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory is a strong JRPG, largely thanks to its remarkably deep Digivolution system. The story and combat are simple but plenty of fun, and the music is a joy to listen to. While there are definitely some reused areas and assets, Hacker’s Memory has enough original content to earn its status as a thoroughly enjoyable RPG.
-MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great