Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth arrives on the PlayStation 4 and Vita this week, and it sounds like the game digital monster fans have been waiting for. Digimon Heroes, released this past week for iOS and Android? Not so much.

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Digimon Heroes is a riff on the popular Puzzle and Dragons. Players collect, enhance and evolve Digimon, form them into teams and then send them into series of battles. Instead of gem-matching it’s got a neat little card battle system, which would be much more compelling if the AI didn’t take over for the player after the first move.

The player starts off by matching three cards by color, which powers the battle abilities of similarly colored Digimon. Matching numbers in sequence is a critical hit. Matching brown cards heals their team, and matching three wildcards powers engages a powerful group attack.

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Ultimately it’s all just numbers being crunched. The player makes the first match, then the AI strings combos together. Numbers are added up, then subtracted from the enemy’s number.

Digimon Heroes is a free-to-play game, like all games in this strange mobile sub-genre. It’s all about spending a little cash to get the best troops. I dropped $3.99 on a special started package that netted me this beast.

There are tons of Digimon to collect and evolve, which is nice. An ample selection of creatures is not Digimon Heroes’ problem.

The game’s problem is it completely lacks heart. The Digimon series is about these creatures sure, but it’s also about humans interacting with them, learning about themselves and the world around them via their fantastic companions. Digimon Heroes has none of that. It’s all mechanics.

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Since the first Puzzle and Dragon style games started popping up on iTunes and Google Play I’ve been saying how perfect the collect and evolve formula would be for a Digimon game. I still think it could work. Just not like this.


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