Digimon World: Next Order, in a certain sense, engulfs, transcends, overcomes the role-playing declination that for years has distinguished the brand of Pokémon in portable sauce. This is not brand new gameplay, especially as we are talking about a PlayStation 4 port of a game originally released on PS Vita a year ago. The saga in the saga, that of the World which develops as an internal branch to the videogame iterations of the Digimon, has in fact an illustrious predecessor, published on the very first Sony console which, in fact, dictated and laid the playful foundations on which this chapter firmly rests.
The narrative premises are the most superficial and pretext one can imagine. The protagonist of the adventure, a boy or a girl depending on the choice made, without too many preambles is thrown on the Digital World, the virtual world, as well as the homeland of the Digimon, threatened by the Celebral Virus that is slowly transforming the peaceful monsters into dangerous war machines. . The transmission of the dangerous bug, whose origin is shrouded in mystery, has now reached the gates of Floatia, a tiny town whose village head, Jijimon, will require the services of the young coach who miraculously appeared out of nowhere to save what can be saved.
Icons, bars, numbers. The game HUD certainly does not help the neophyte to learn and understand the mechanisms that manage the gameplay on the fly.
That it is not just a matter of choosing your favorites and strengthening them, battle after battle, can be sensed by exploring the structures and buildings of the small village. Accompanied by two Digimon chosen from those initially available, you will get to know the monsters who manage the gym, essential to start strengthening the roster; of the cultivation of meat, with which to feed the trusted companions of adventure; of the bathroom which certainly needs no further explanation.
The main component of the game, in fact, is the management one, the pivot around which the role-playing one rotates and consequently develops. As in a sort of next-gen Tamagotchi, your primary concern will be to keep the Digimon in your care high. If they are hungry they will not be able to fully exploit their potential. If they are sleepy, they will complain and emit annoying whimpers. If injured they will demand to be promptly treated by returning to the village or using one of the many items prepared for the task and stored in the backpack.
Digimon health and concentration will be essential, especially in view of the Digivolutions, essential if you just want to put your beak out of Floatia. Around the village, in fact, there is a fairly large scenario to be explored, hunting for opponents to beat or secondary characters who will entrust you with quests of all kinds. The initial goal will be to restore the ancient splendor to the village of Jijimon, reopening all the activities that once revived city life. Of course, as you restore peace and order, the new structures available will further expand your management skills, further deepening the gameplay progressively.
From this point of view, Digimon World: Next Order does an unexpectedly excellent job, as long as you compromise with the nagging demands of the monsters in tow. Especially at first, even with the complicity of a tutorial that is anything but timely and exhaustive, the exploration will be constantly and annoyingly interrupted by the whining of the Digimon. The management of their very small forces clashes terribly and dramatically with the desire to complete the first missions. Getting frustrated is a moment and it takes enormous patience and a bit of healthy self-control to overcome the obstacle. In short, you have to surrender to the idea of having to spend a lot of time in the gym, endlessly repeating a boring mini-game, taking care to let the Digimon rest a lot and for a long time after each session.
This interminable running-in is necessary, especially given the relative strength of the first opponents you will have to face. On the world map, each challenger will always be clearly visible and the real fight will begin as soon as you make contact with the opponent. To the detriment of what happened in the last episodes of the brand, in these phases you will never have direct control of the Digimon which, depending on the strategy set through the appropriate menu, will face the enemy by managing the action points in the best possible way. Waiting for the filling of a specific bar, however, you can make the monsters perform some actions, such as performing a specific attack or merging with your partner to give life to a hugely more powerful Digimon. Be prepared, however, to contend with AI that is not always responsive. Stumbling into a game over for an attack that failed or came with a guilty delay, is an eventuality that is far from rare, although, even in this sense, the training of Digimon involves significant improvements.
In short, the feeling, as anticipated above, is that of an adventure in which, without a careful management of roster and inventory, there is very little road. Much more than in any episode of Pokémon, where a masterful mastery of playful mechanics is not required to reach the end credits, Digimon World: Next Order requires application and commitment, essential features to find the right balance between management tasks and more properly roles that emerge during the battles.
Despite an art design that is anything but despicable, whether it is a port from PS Vita it can be seen in the poorly defined textures and in the not very detailed polygonal models.
The Bandai Namco production, despite the friendly face of the digital monsters that stand out on the cover, is a rather complex game, which requires great effort, especially in the initial stages, to be fully understood. The graphics sector that is anything but exciting, the confusing HUD and a certain basic repetitiveness that occurs at a certain point in the adventure, are all defects that reduce the ambitions of this title. However, lovers of the brand will discover a deep, exciting and challenging management RPG that will keep them busy for almost fifty hours. The things to do, the challenges available and the secrets to discover, after all, are many.