It just fits the criteria for an amazing RPG: great music, nice visual, hilarious slapstick comedy, interesting characters, great battle mechanic, and the charm of quality of life improvement through out the game.

- Played on Nintendo Switch through the Completed Edition
- Completed at 3:20 AM April 16th, 2023
- Playtime: 76h2m at completion
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is the kind of game that is not that good, but also not that bad, kind of mid, but I cannot help but love it so much. Like many fans of Cyber Sleuth, I grew up watching the Digimon shows, so that plays a lot into my enjoyment of this game. I can see that the development team had to work within some constraints (either time or budget), so they focused most of their effort on the core gameplay of raising & battling Digimon and the main storyline, while the rest of the game fell a bit short.
The digivolving & de-digivolving mechanics of Digimon is great fun when you figure them out. By utilizing branching paths, you can truly create the ultimate Digimon (like they said in the trailer). However, the system is still too convoluted at some point (the ABI stat), and the grind is too great to digivolve and de-digivolve some Digimon to reach the stat you want, especially without some grinding tricks. The DigiFarm is a nice concept, but I did not find much use for it aside from the Development command. Training is nice at the beginning and for growing a specific stat, but not much use in the late game. Investigation is... okay? Its purpose is to find you side quests, but most of them are fetch quests and "go to a place to find a guy" that are almost worthless to do. Nonetheless, the variety and complexity of the Digimon can provide you with hours of fun just by digivolving them back and forth to figure out the best combination of skills and elements. This is by far the best part of this game.
The combat, for the most part, is amazing to play, but only in Hard mode. I went into the game in Normal mode and had to switch to Hard mode just an hour into the game because Normal mode is just too easy and everything dies in just one hit or two. I played through the game in Hard mode and had no problems, except for a sudden difficulty curve in a boss fight that made me switch back to Normal for that fight alone (and it became a 2 hits kill fight, smh). Instead of following the extremely complicated type match-up of its Pocket cousin, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has two elemental cycles and the typical Vaccine-Virus-Data nature of the franchise. I think this is simple enough to understand but still provides some thinking and strategy in battle. The special skills of Digimon are really cool and well animated, but the common skills just become boring to notice at some point since they're just simple buffs/debuffs and physical/magic attacks with different elements slapped on.
With the "Story" tag in its name, this game does have a good story to go with its addicting monster-raising gameplay. Set in a world dominated by virtual networks, the main character (due to circumstances) has to take on the job of Cyber Sleuth, or Digital Dectective, to discover the mystery of the EDEN syndrome that puts people in comas. Alongside him or her are a colorful cast of characters that I really enjoy: Nokia, the loud and uplifting gal; Arata, the edgy but also nerdy hacker; Yuko, the timid but passionate girl; and the best one, Kuremi Kyoko, your boss at the detective office, who has many secrets behind her sarcastic demeanor. The plot of this game is very much defined by its characters' interactions and motivations, which were done really well, I must say. It started off simple and inviting, but begins to flourish with one plot twist after another at the midpoint, with some that can even surprise veteran fans of the franchise. However, the pacing was dragged down by a lot of filler moments along the way, mostly to artificially lengthen the game. Cyber Sleuth can be 10 or 20 hours shorter, and the plot would still be mostly the same, since the filler did nothing but discourage players from completing the game. Looking back, the story is not complicated per se, but it definitely has a lot of heart, which makes me remember it so fondly.
I think I could have completed the game in 60 or even 50 hours, but I did a bit of grinding to make my team as complete as possible, and I do think it was worth the time. However, it became apparent to me that completing the whole collection of Digimon would take a whole lot of time that it's not even worth going through, since grinding for a team of 10 already took me too many hours. As I said, this is one of the parts that the development team overlooked to focus more on the Digimon raising and the story, which I do understand. Nonetheless, it still resulted in many sections of this game feeling... unfinished. The maps are either confusing mazes or straight lines filled with random encounters. "Puzzles" are nothing more than pressing the right button that they explicitly pointed out for you, or some errands that are so boring to do. The cutscenes are not skippable, it's not that I want to skip out the story, but whenever I got to reset after losing to a boss, I had to listen to the whole conversation again, and the same thing goes for people playing New Game+. The side quests found in Investigation are worthless, but the pre-determined ones do have some fun, and they might get real good sometimes. And this is not really a complaint, but no camera control feels pretty weird when I started playing, and at the 70 hours point I still occasionally move the right analog stick trying to change the perspectives.
Overall, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is not a perfect game by any means; it might not even be a good game in some people's eyes, but I still love it despite all of its flaws. It may be because of my love for Digimon since childhood, the gripping monster-raising mechanics, or the simple yet passionate storyline. This game laid a solid foundation for better Digimon games to follow, which confused me as to why they haven't made a true sequel at this point. I might not do the New Game+, but I will return for some post-game content (they're unlocked before the final boss, but feel more post-game-like, so I just leave it), and Hacker's Memory is obviously the next place to go.