This role-playing game can be fun for fans of the franchise, so long as they're willing to deal with lots of micromanagement. It's sometimes hard to believe that the whole Digimon craze originally started 20 years ago as nothing more than tiny electronic virtual pets you had to feed, train, and, well, clean up after. Digimon World: Next Order manages to take fans on a trip down memory lane by incorporating those classic elements as a major part of the gameplay. As much time as players spend in combat fighting against enemies, they'll spend at least as much time monitoring the needs and activities of your various Digimon friends. Between training, feeding, praising, scolding, and sending them to the toilet, it almost feels like you're running an actual day care -- although a day care where the kids have fur, horns, and wings and can shoot out fire, ice, and other elements. It's a very hands-on approach with a lot of micromanagement. Unfortunately, the in-game tutorial is pretty lackluster, leaving players to learn the nuances of things through trial and error.
Digimon World: Next Order requires a fair bit of commitment from the player. It's definitely a blast to play, especially for fans of the franchise, but it has a fairly steep learning curve. The problem is that it takes a lot of time and patience plodding through the first third or so before it builds momentum and finally finds its stride. Right from the start, you have to spend a fair bit of time in a constant care cycle of training, eating, pottying, resting -- and then you wash, rinse, and repeat. Then you have to head out to the Digital World and fight, which is almost as convoluted a process as raising the Digimon. Combat is a weird mix of real-time and turn-based combat. Your team operates on its own, though, as a trainer, it's still your responsibility to direct their actions. This means opening each team member's menu and choosing a special move within a five-second window. It's not exactly a streamlined process, and the tutorial isn't a whole lot of help. But with practice, it eventually starts to feel like second nature, making the game feel like less of a chore. If you can push through these early frustrations, Digimon World: Next Order's gameplay and story build up at an exciting pace and leave you with a real sense of accomplishment.