Digimon Survive Producer Talks About Development Challenges, Storytelling, and What Fans can Expect
Digimon Survive is finally making its long-awaited release on July 28, and to fans who have been following the troubled history of the game, relief is finally a stone’s throw away.
No one is more relieved than Digimon Survive Producer Kazumasa Habu, who took time off of his very busy schedule to talk to us about the challenges that the team encountered over the past few years and what players can expect from the game when it launches in a few weeks.
Digimon Survive Interview with Producer Kazumasa Habu
It’s been well documented that Digimon Survive has received numerous delays due to a change in the development team. Could you share some of the challenges that the team had to overcome, especially taking into consideration the pandemic that affected global work processes and schedules? How much of Digimon Survive was reworked and how does it feel to finally be launching the game in a few months?
Kazumasa Habu (KH): 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.
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 fact that the game has taken such a long time to develop may lead some to think of it as a grand, epic tale, but in fact, it is a foray into a new genre with a small team. This vision of the title’s value has remained unchanged since its original conception. 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.
How big of a factor is storytelling in Digimon Survive? It is said that choices can affect many things including multiple endings, will the endings be very different from each other depending on your choices?
KH: In terms of volume, there are 12 chapters in the game. The story will be divided into three major routes from Chapter 8 onwards, depending on the decisions made by the player to that point, which we have dubbed the “Morality”, “Harmony” and “Wrathful” routes. Once the player plays through to the ending of any of these three routes, a secret story will also be unlocked.
We estimate that it should take around 25 to 40 hours to play through to the ending the first time, with around 80 to 100 hours of gameplay in the game as a whole for completionists.
Coming from Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, the battle system in Digimon Survive is a big change – from turn-based to a more strategic/tactical approach. Could you talk about how this decision came to be and what can players look forward to with this shift in gameplay?
KH: The decision to develop the game as more of a strategy title than an action title was based on two factors — the fact that it is a genre that is known and loved by the generation of users around the age of 30 who form the key demographic for Digimon games, and because it can be most efficiently developed by a small team.
Further, this game centers upon its text-based adventure or visual novel element, with the story at its core rather than monster training. This story features eight main characters, and the selection of the tactical battle genre was also a way to allow multiple characters to participate in battle at once.
Is there any specific feature or gameplay element in Digimon Survive that long-time fans should watch out for and be very excited about?
KH: This title represents a departure from the norm — a side-story from the main Digimon canon, as it was. The Digimon in this title are monsters from an alternate universe that have no connection to our own world. As such, one of the interesting facets of this game is to consider how such beings would appear to us and what effect they would have on our world.
This title also takes the basic premise of the partner Digimon representing an aspect of each person’s personality and develops it further, with characters who are unable to come to terms with their own inner demons also unable to accept their partner Digimon. In that respect, the title has somewhat of a darker feel than the traditional Digimon title, where it explores the depths of the human psyche.
Could you share a message with the fans that have been looking forward to Digimon Survive for a long time? Would you have anything to say to them?
KH: The Digimon franchise has been going for many years now and has produced a number of different works in a wide variety of fields.
Digimon video games have approached the franchise from several different perspectives in terms of play style, world view, and story in order to draw out a new side of the Digimon phenomenon. This title is also quite unique in the approach it has taken. It is our fervent hope that this new approach would be favorable for the many Digimon fans who have long supported the franchise.
Digimon Survive is scheduled to release for the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on July 28, 2022.