Digimon World: Next Order Review (Switch)

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Just like any franchise that’s been going as long as it has, Digimon video games have had plenty of ups and downs. Digimon World: Next Order was first released in 2016 for the PlayStation Vita, with a PlayStation 4 release making its way to the West the following year. Since then, it has enjoyed enough of a cult following that it has now been ported to PC and Switch years later. Perhaps owing to its origins on Sony’s handheld console, it feels right at home on the Switch but Digimon World: Next Order is still a title that struggles to find its footing.

The opening of the game throws players into a tense battle between two highly evolved Digimon companions and a powerful opponent that serves as a tutorial for the combat system. Fights play out in real-time, with the player’s partners acting on their own initiative, based on which of the three pre-set AI behaviours you’ve chosen for them. Players can choose specific actions for them to take, but only if they have accrued enough Order Points through the course of the fight.

More elaborate attacks require more Mana and Order Points to use, but the combat system itself is fairly simple to get your head around. Particularly when you’re fighting against lower-level enemies, you can get away with barely paying attention in most fights. That makes grinding surprisingly easy as you wander around the open world that the game takes place in. However, fighting enemies is a dangerous business. Wander into the next area and you are likely to find that the Digimon make short work of your current companions.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Battling it out isn’t the only way to gain strength in Digimon World: Next Order. We would argue that it isn’t even the best way. That would be sending them to the Gym to train, which allows you to choose a specific stat to increase and throws a roulette minigame at you for the chance to get a boost. Chances are, you’ll spend most of your time here, grinding away to increase your stats and eventually unlock the next Digivolution for your companions.

This bit of the game, frankly, isn’t very fun. It is repetitive to the point of being a bore and is only broken up by having to attend to the Digimon’s need to sleep, eat, and poop. Like caring for a child, you need to get your partners to a restroom before they make a mess somewhere. This mechanic makes the game feel like a strange cross between a Virtual Pet simulator and an RPG, but the mechanics to take care of your partner’s physical needs are clumsily implemented.

Each time you send the Digimon to train at the Gym, they accrue a bit of fatigue. Eventually, they’ll need to take a rest. That can be done in the Gym itself, but resting only removes a small amount of fatigue, meaning you have to go through the same dialogue repeatedly if you want to get them back into fighting shape. It is a frustratingly slow process that could have been drastically improved by offering an option to rest until all fatigue is gone.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Unfortunately, you’ll likely spend hours engaging in the cycle of training and resting to boost your Digimon’s stats before they reach the next stage of their evolution because if you don’t, they’ll die once their Life Points run out. If that happens, they’ll revert back to an egg and you’ll have to start the whole process all over again. They’ll have slightly boosted stats compared to how they started, but it still feels like a massive step backward and adds to the game’s repetitive feel.

This mechanic allows you to change how you raise your Digimon partner to influence what they eventually turn into. There are well over 200 possible evolutions in the game, making it unlikely that you’ll ever see them all. The age of the game works to its advantage in this case, as there are guides out there that can help you raise the right stats and feed them the right foods to ensure that they turn out exactly how you want them. Without them, it feels very much like random chance with a bit of luck mixed in.

The reason you’ll spend so much time at the Gym, grinding out stats through training is because of the sudden and devastating difficulty spikes that show up as you wander the world. For instance, when we first entered the open-world portion of the game, we encountered a level one creature and, as expected, promptly wiped the floor with it. Without even leaving that section of the map, we engaged a level two monster, and both our Digimon were knocked out within 30 seconds. It took us 15 hours to reach a point where we had a team that could take on the game’s first boss.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There are three difficulty options in Digimon World: Next Order – Beginner, Easy, and Normal. We found that Normal was too much of a grind to make our way through the game’s story, which is fairly thin as it is. Once we dropped it down to Easy, the enemies were more manageable and the game became a much better experience. It honestly feels like Easy Mode should be how everyone experiences this game. Exploring the world, recruiting new Digimon to your growing town, and seeing which evolutions you can unlock next do offer some fun, but getting to that point is such a slog that it hardly felt worth it.

It is disappointing because Digimon World: Next Order has some great polish to it. The graphics are a bit dated now but they still hold up thanks to the cartoony nature of the characters. The soundtrack, however, is fantastic. From the opening theme song to the music that plays as you walk around the world, there are some great tracks there.

However, the actual gameplay lets this title down massively and the decision not to include the original Japanese voice tracks in the Switch version is just baffling. Even on the lower difficulty and using a guide to help you get the best possible team, you’ll spend hours doing repetitive training just to get to a point where you can play the game.


Digimon World: Next Order is an open-world RPG that’s too much of a grind to recommend. While the music and graphics have their charm, they’re totally overshadowed by the unbalanced difficulty, highly-repetitive training mechanics, and some very strange design choices. Unless you’re a die-hard Digimon fan with untold patience, this one is best left alone.

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