Digimon Survive Developer Dives Deep into Gameplay, Combat Details

Image courtesy of Bandai Namco

Players got a look at the main characters and their Digimon companions in a new teaser trailer for Digimon Survive.

The trailer dropped as part of Digimon Con where the game’s producer Kazumasa Habu delved into the game a bit and answered fan questions.

In addition to getting a peek at the cast of characters in the teaser trailer, developers sprinkled in a look a some of the game’s features like a cell phone used to take pictures of the world around you to complete investigations, the game’s map UI, and first look at the combat.

During the panel, Habu apologized for the game’s delays citing a change in the development team which led to a rework on the game overall.

Game Overview 

Habu said the game will be a mix of visual novel elements and tactical battles, and the game’s story will be told in chapters. There will be 12 chapters in the game and Habu said that it branches into three narrative paths (“Mortality,” “Harmony” and “Rage”) from Chapter 8 onwards.

“When you reach to any one of the three ending of “Morality”, “Harmony”, or “Rage”, the secret route will be released,” Habu said.

Players can expect about 40 hours per story route and Habu said that length may vary depending on the difficulty level and use of the fast-forward function. He estimated that players will take between 80 to 100 hours to complete all routes including “challenging elements and end contents.”

“As for the ratio of the game, the volume of visual novel and tactical battles is about 7:3, so the game is mainly a visual novel,” Habu said.

There are 113 monsters in the game that can be trained and Habu said they made the selection to fit the “worldview” of Survive.

Concept of Monsters vs. Digimon

“The concept of this game is based on the encounter with life forms from other worlds, and it is set before monsters spread to the world as Digimon,” Habu said. “For this reason, I prioritized the selection of monsters with designs that give a sense of wildlife from the early LCD game Digital Monsters to the monsters that have appeared since Pendulum. Therefore, the core players may feel that all the Digimon are familiar to them, but we’d appreciate your understanding.”

Habu explains that the concept for the narrative in this game is follows the worldview outlined in the previous game Cyber Sleuth where Digimon have appeared in human society which led to a more existential conversation on how Digimon fit into the world view.

“I felt that there was a discrepancy between the concept of “digital” as we perceive it and the nature of the “Digimon” depicted in the story. As an answer to this question, I decided to depict Digimon as a life form from another world that can be recognized and contacted through the “digital gadgets” of the human world,” Habu said. “As an image that takes this interpretation a little further, the director of the TV series Digimon Adventure, Kakudou, told me that “Digimon are ethereal beings that have been with us since ancient times, but their perception has changed over time, and they are fragments of souls that have been transformed into “digital monsters” by being recognized through digital gadgets in modern society. This is the first time that monsters, who used to have an ethereal existence, are interacting with people in the modern world. For this reason, we refer to Digimon as “Monsters”, “Beasts”, “Monstrous creatures”, etc. in this work and in promotional messages.”

Game Modes

The game will progress through conversations with other characters and by investigating objects found in hidden in the background through two game modes called “Free Expedition” and “Exploration.”

“The number of times you can act in “Free Expedition” is limited, and time passes by selecting a destination from the overall map and moving to it, or by executing conversation events that occur in the destination,” Habu said. “On each map, you can talk with your friends, engage in free battles, and examine various locations in the area. By talking with your friends, you can increase your intimacy and receive items. Events to degivolve your Digimon may occur depending on your story progress and affinity with your friends.”

Habu said the main character’s partner will Digivolve as the story progresses and the “destination of the Digivolution” will depend on the “Karma of the choices” the player has made through the story. He notes players will not be able to unlock all Digivolutions in one play-through.

“Additionally, by increasing their affinity, your friends might come to your aid in battle, which can be vital during Free Mode. In free battles, you can level up and make friends with wild Digimon. You can obtain hidden items by examining various locations in the area,” he said.

Wild monsters can be recruited as partners using the “Conversation” battle command and answering the monster’s questions with a variety of dialogue options. Players that succeed in these “Conversations” may be able to recruit or receive items from the monsters.

“In addition, the Digivolution events of fellow Digimon will be unlocked as the story progresses and the level of intimacy with the main character increases. You will need to clear these events to Digivolve,” Habu said. “In the meantime, you can Digivolve wild monsters by using items obtained through exploration and elsewhere.”

In “Exploration,” players will investigate areas using the phone to see things in the world invisible to the naked eye in order to make new discoveries, including enemies to attack.

“The flow of the adventure part consists of adjusting your equipment in order to win battles, as well as training and preparing your Digimon for battle while leveling them up in free battles,” Habu said.

There is a New Game+ option and players will be able to carry Digimon level, unlocked Digivolutions, items and equipment ontained, and wild monsters acquired with them to the NG+.

In NG+ players will also have access to dungeons with higher difficulty battles that offer a lot of items and powerful skill equipment.

Players will have the option to select difficulty options from Very Easy, Easy, Normal and Difficult. The game is single player only.

Game Combat 

In combat, players will have the option to select up to 10 units to join in battles. Combat is turn-based and turn order is determined by the unit’s speed stat.

“The distance traveled and the ability to climb the height difference are different for each monster. If an enemy is within your attack range, you can “attack” them. The range of the attack depends on the technique,” Habu said. “The amount of damage varies depending on directional elements such as side and back attacks, height differences, compatibility of monster species, and compatibility of attack attributes.”

Other games to come?

Habu said he is open to remastering or remaking Digimon World and the development team is considering making new Digimon World titles, but are facing issues with how to design the game system.

“Given the fact that the system is highly unique, with life-span training and AI battles, we think it will be difficult to attract new fans,” Habu said. “I think it’s very important to replicate such uniqueness for the existing Digimon World series fans. However, but if we don’t get new players into the series, it will become a greater hurdle when we want to make a new game, so it’s important to somehow make it easier for new players to enter into the series. We want to continue the Digimon World series in a way that the fans who have supported it for a long time can enjoy it, so we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section.”

He said he is interested in porting Anode Tamer and Cathode Tamer, noted there are currently not plans to make sequels for Cyber Sleuth or Hacker’s Memory. The team is working on a new Digimon Story game that will focus on the “Twelve Olympians” and set in the Digital World.

Digimon Survive will launch on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, PC and Nintendo Switch.

You can read a full transcript of the panel here or watch the full Digimon Con panel here:

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