Good news for fans of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth — if you liked the original, then you’ll love Hacker’s Memories. Bad news of fans of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth — you’ve seen this all before.
Hacker’s Memories is not the true sequel that Digimon fans were hoping for, but more of a sidequel, explaining the backstories and secrets of the original title, while focussing on a brand new set of characters. As such, it reuses a lot of the same assets, systems and story of the original title.
While the addition of brand new locations, 70 new Digimon to discover (including the baffling nun Digimon, Sistermon Noir), and the promise of revealing the untold story of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth spice up the game, it’s still not enough for it to feel any different than the original title.
That said, the original title was enjoyable enough, and the process of capturing, training and battle Digimon in turn-based battles is as fun and rewarding as you might hope, so if you enjoyed the first, you’re very likely to enjoy the second. Unfortunately, this title isn’t particularly new fan friendly, as it tends to rely on a lot of the story already presented in the original game in order to understand the plot and characters.
Hacker’s Memories follows high schooler Keisuke Amazawa on a quest to prove his innocence after his online account is stolen by a mysterious hacker and he’s implicated in online crimes. Soon after, he’s found by chaotic good hacker group Hudie, who urge him to join their team and track down the culprit responsible.
Along the way, Keisuke runs into a variety of guest stars from the original game, including detective Kyoko Kuremi, Arata Sanada, and brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameos from Cyber Sleuth’s original player character, Ami or Takumi Aiba. As Hacker’s Memories takes place around the same time as the first game, you can expect to experience similar story beats and themes.
Unfortunately, the story is somewhat dampened by the sheer amount of dialogue and lore that you’re dumped with on first entering the world of the game. The first hour is filled with filler conversations, repetition from the first game, odd character beats and a variety of meaningless tasks before you’re able to properly enter the digital world and begin your adventure. Even after this introduction, you often get stuck in long, unescapable conversations that have little bearing on the main story.
While it wouldn’t feel like so much of a task to get through if the content of the game was original, or the characters were particularly interesting, that isn’t the case. Many of the characters are dull, and feel like anime stereotypes, particularly Erika Mishima, the shy, over-emotional girl who reluctantly joins you on your quest.
What was most disappointing about Hacker’s Memories was that is, quite plainly, a lazy reskin of the original game, featuring nearly all of the same locations, a very similar soundtrack (with a few new and remixed tracks), and the same battling system. One new addition is the implementation of ‘Domination Battles’, where hackers face off against each other on a board game-like field. These battles play out rather like chess, where plays must move around a board to dominate as much of the field as possible, gaining points for every square they claim. It’s a welcome addition to what is an otherwise by-the-numbers repeat of Cyber Sleuth.
The story, however typical, was just enough to keep me interested in the game, but it was largely the addictive process of capturing and farming Digimon that held my interest. While comparisons between the enduring Pokémon franchise and Digimon will always be common, one area that I believe Digimon succeeds in is the implementation of its digivolution and de-evolution systems.
Not only are players able to choose which path their Digimon will go down, with a variety of optional evolutions, they can also devolve their Digimon in order to make it stronger. This de-evolution allows for more powerful Digimon to be unlocked in later stages of the game, and guarantees stat increases for each Digimon you train.
While it can be a tough system to learn, and it’s particularly heartbreaking to have to de-devolve your Digimon to make them more powerful, it’s a process that is ultimately rewarded, and therefore encouraging. It’s a system that has been featured in multiple Digimon titles, and has been perfected within the Digimon Story franchise.
For fans of the Digimon fans, and particularly for fans of the original Cyber Sleuth title, Hacker’s Memories brings little new to the table, but should still prove a fairly entertaining romp. With a handful of new features, a brand new story, and over 70 new Digimon to discover, there’s plenty left to do in the Digital World.