Digimon Survive Review


When Digimon Survive was first announced, I thought that someone from Bandai Namco had somehow invaded my head, meshed together some of the things I loved most and spat out the concept for Digimon Survive. It’s a mixture of visual novel, tactics RPG and was an original story set in the Digimon Universe. To say I was keen would be an understatement. Originally announced to release in 2019, after a delay the game went on to be one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, then again in 2021. But finally in 2022, it’s here. Digimon Survive certainly won’t be a game for everyone. But for fans of visual novels and the Digimon franchise, there’s a lot for you to enjoy. And I mean a lot. The game will certainly keep you busy for some time, especially if you want to obtain Digimon Survive’s true ending.

Digimon Survive Review

In Digimon Survive, you play as Takuma Momozuka, a high schooler who with his group of friends go on a school camp. The introduction of the game let’s you gradually meet Takuma’s classmates that make up the core party of the story as well as learn their individual traits and personalities. But what begins as a mostly normal camping trip, quickly evolves into a thriller mystery as the group find out that they’ve somehow left the regular world and found themselves in a mysterious plot involving Digimon and very real and deadly consequences. A plot that somewhat mirrors the original Digimon Adventure series, but with much higher stakes this time around.

Takuma himself is quite a bland protagonist by design, allowing you the player to use him as your player avatar to imprint yourself into the story as the choices he makes, and the twists the story takes will be very much driven by your choices and the interactions you make throughout the events of Survive’s story.

As mentioned at the start of the review, Digimon Survive’s gameplay is a mix of visual novel story telling and tactical RPG combat. There are also moments in the game where you’ll be able to investigate scenes to find points of interest, hidden items, people to talk to and Digimon to locate, but for the most part the game is split into the 2 core areas. Pre-release it was communicated that this would be a roughly 70/30 split, with the majority of the game being the visual novel story. And after playing through the game twice, I can confirm that estimation is fairly accurate. If you’re planning on jumping into Digimon Survive, plan for a lot of reading, but also for a story that’s worth your time. 

Digimon Survive Review

While Digimon has often been marketed towards a younger audience, the story here is far more mature than anything we got to experience with the tv anime and touches on some very dark and emotional themes. This was something I loved as it provides a more mature story for those like myself that got attached to the franchise when we were younger but have now grown up and looking for an experience tailored to our current demographic.

As is often the case with many larger scale visual novels, Digimon Survive features multiple different routes the narrative can take. These routes are driven by the game’s karma system which is influenced by the decisions you make throughout each playthrough. Survive’s 3 karma routes are Moral, Harmony and Wrathful, and the decisions you make when selecting from multiple dialog options directly reflect one of these 3 values. I would have loved if these traits were randomised within the dialog choices, but they follow the same position for each choice, which does make it easier if you’re aiming for one consistent path, but I would have loved the ability to have them randomise so that my choices couldn’t be influenced by knowing what selection mapped to which karma.

Digimon Survive Review

The decisions made control more than just which ending the narrative provides. The choices influence the Digivolution of your partner Digimon, as well as contributes to the individual relationships and affinities you develop with others as well. Which is pretty important to manage as it can influence who lives or unfortunately dies within your version of the story.

Outside of the novel portions of the game, the next biggest component of Digimon Survive are it’s combat portions. Sporadically throughout the story and also available at just about any point once you’ve unlocked Free Battle you’ll be able to put your team against enemy Digimon to both train your team and also progress the story. Combat takes place on a grid based tactical arena where your units can move around and attack in a turn based tactical fashion. If you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy Tactics title this will be extremely familiar to you.

Each Digimon have primary and special attacks that can be utilised, and much like the tv series, can even Digivolve when in battle to evolve into a new form, granting greater stats, abilities and strength but consuming SP every turn that the form is maintained. Providing a nice layer of risk/reward when you choose to Digivolve and a sense of strategy to pull it off at the right time. 

Digimon have their own stats and typings that can be used to gain an advantage over other typings they’re strong against, and the positioning of your units also contributes to how strong their attacks on others can be or even how vulnerable your Digimon could be to enemy attacks. Attacking an enemy from the back or sides or pulling off attacks while flanked will generally earn you attack buffs. 

Digimon Survive Review

But the combat isn’t always about beating your enemies to death. You’ll also have the ability during combat to talk to enemy Digimon too. In a system pulled almost straight out of the Shin Megami Tensei series, you’ll have the ability here to try and persuade them using a selection of various dialog choices to come and join your team of collected Digimon, or to hand over items to you. This provides a nice change up to the usual flow of combat and has the benefit of expanding your roster of units to pick from.

Visual novels have the great ability to engage and resonate with their audience more than a traditional novel thanks to their additional media components that come along with the text based story. This is actually one of Digimon Survive’s key strengths, not only is the artwork and art direction fantastic, it’s all taken to a whole new level thanks to it’s amazing soundtrack. You’ll get a hint of this right from the main screen of the PS5 before even booting up the game, if playing on that platform. The game’s main theme grabbed me from the very first time I heard it in one of the trailers years before release. Digimon Survive is a very emotional, high stakes and mysterious game, and the soundtrack really immerses you in the tone of each scenario and matches the gameplay well. If i can manage to find the soundtrack online, it’s going straight into my regular playlist.

Digimon Survive is a game very much designed for me to love, and there’s a lot about it that I do. But it certainly isn’t perfect. Throughout my playthroughs I experienced quite the number of spelling typos and confusing mistranslations that caused awkwardness or confusion in some scenes, or for certain jokes and statements to completely miss their mark. The game is also incredibly slow to get going and kick into the arc that will get you hooked. It does a good job of teaching you the ropes of the mechanics such as exploring scenes, talking to other characters and how to succeed in combat, but I can certainly see the pacing of the opening arc turning people off the game for good before it gets a chance to become great.

Digimon Survive Review

Final Thoughts

Digimon Survive certainly won’t be for everyone, but it delivered just what I wanted from it. Providing a solid and rewarding story, a fun and strategic combat system and a mature take on a world many of us have loved now for over 20 years. It took a while to finally release but for those of you that are fans of both Digimon and visual novels, it was well worth the wait.

A review code was provided by Bandai Namco for the purpose of this review.

If you want to see more content like this and never miss one of our frequent gaming and anime giveaways come and on Twitter.


Played On: PS5

  • + Great art direction
  • + Engaging and mature Digimon story
  • + Fun tactics combat
  • + Worth replaying for the true ending

  • - Very slow to get going
  • - Numerous spelling and translation errors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.