It has been four long years since the original announcement of Digimon Survivebut as time went by, fans were increasingly worried that the Bandai Namco title was never going to see the light of day. Fast forward to 2022, and we now know that the game changed developers from Witchcraft durable Hydeand that Digimon Survive will finally launch on 29 July. More importantly, the reset button was hit so that the project could, well, survive.
For producer Kazumasa Habuit has been quite a journey.
“The team that was originally tasked with developing the game had worked on it for around two years before it was decided that a different approach was needed. Unfortunately, the data that was handed over to the new dev team was largely unusable, which meant the game essentially needed to be remade from scratch, ”Habu explained.
“Naturally, this led to a lengthy delay, with the initial projections of a two-year development being extended to four years. The original dev team was developing the title on their own original engine, but as this was unavailable to the new team, the game needed to be redeveloped for the Unity engine. The new team has thus been fully dedicated to realizing the goal of creating a game that meets every one of the game’s original targets in terms of quality. ”
And fans’ expectations were definitely high, even if the game is less action-oriented than what most might come to expect. Digimon Survive is more of a strategy experience rather than a full-on brawl between iconic creatures, and has heavy visual novel elements included as well. This basically allowed the development team to adapt the game to fulfill their vision.
What this meant was creating a game that catered to those that are the closest to the IPs, players of a certain vintage that like the strategic genre. It was also paramount that the team was able to do their job effectively. It all led to this particularly interesting blend of genres in Digimon Survive.
At its core, Digimon Survive is built upon the “text-based adventure and visual novel elements,” with the narrative at its core rather than monster training. With eight main characters, the gameplay was designed “to allow multiple characters to participate in battle at the same time.”
Continuing in that vein, the team wanted to bring focus to the “impact of Digimon relationships with humans on the key concept of Digimon evolutions in the format of a game,” which is why the “game system where the accumulation of the various choices the player makes throughout the course of the story affects the way the Digimon evolve ”is present.
This also paves the way for a story that can have a “divergent narrative,” with multiple endings that will truly make your choices count.
Unlike most other Digimon games, Digivolution is not permanent in the world of Digimon Survive. For the devs, having huge variations in sizes meant that it “would make depicting the drama at the heart of the story, in which Digimon and human beings interact on an everyday basis, extremely difficult.”
As such, the solution was to go the anime route, where Digimon revert back to their original physical state at the end of each battle. Even if your partner undergoes Digivolution during battle, expending too much SP can also cause them to revert, adding another tactical layer to the gameplay.
Another way Digimon Survive is trying to switch things up in terms of traditional methods being updated is the visuals. As a visual novel, it would have been easy for characters to appear in dialogue by just sliding in from the side, but that was never going to cut it for the team. Instead, the choice was made to “develop a 3D background which would allow us to move the camera around the space freely to tell our story.”
However, in battle, characters will continue to appear in their 2D guise, both to suit the rest of the game, but also to maintain the iconic look to the whole franchise.
In some ways, Digimon Survive is both embracing the new and the old in carving a new entry for the beloved franchise in the gaming space as a celebration of its 20th anniversary. Whether you are a fan of the digital creatures or looking for something that has a nice blend of genres, the upcoming 29 July launch for for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC should be one to keep an eye on.
Jake is a full-time trophy hunter and achievement gatherer on consoles, and part-time Steam Sale victim. He has a thing for Batman and awesome statues, and running out of space for both. Send help.
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