Digimon Survive Producer Dishes on the Game's High Points and Anime Influences

Digimon Survive has been on the radar for years at this point, and at long last, the title is almost here. Bandai Namco is slated to bring the long-awaited adaptation to shelves towards the end of July. As the fandom's eye turns towards the ambitious Digimon game, no one is more anxious for the title to go live than its main producer Kazumasa Habu. And not long ago, ComicBook had the chance to speak with the man about his love for Digimon.

As you can see below, the creator dished out tons of details about Digimon Survive as we chatted about its highlights. From its anime roots to its visual novel customizations, this upcoming game has lots for fans to be excited about, so you can read up on our chat with Kazumasa below:


I am sure a lot of people have said this, but I've been waiting for years for Digimon Survive to go live. How do you all feel now that its release is on the horizon, especially after seeing how excited fans were at the Bandai panel for the game?

Kazumasa Habu: I was super happy to see everyone excited about the project, especially at panel. We have a lot of big games here including One Piece: Odyssey. Hearing people be so excited about Digimon Survive was a very good experience for me. The game was in development for long time and especially with pandemic going on, it really gave me motivation to create good Digimon games in the future.

On the other hand, what is something in Digimon Survive you are all eager for fans to see firsthand? Or that you are proud of in particular?

Kazumasa: The biggest thing I want fans to be able to enjoy in this game is this story. It started with a thought that began as I was creating Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. It was the first time I or even other producers were able to create a game with original story based on the Digimon anime and settings and stuff. Because of its big success, I came to the understanding that people actually want to have an original story in the game and be able to have new interactions with the different characters and taste the game's original drama in the game. This is why I wanted to create another game that really focuses on the story.

Especially if we're talking about the story of the anime series. All of the characters are teammates and heroes. I believe the original series' target audience was for teens, and since these teens who watched the anime have grown up over the last 10-20 years, these people have become adults. They might want a different story from the original anime which is why I wanted to create a story that that can be enjoyed by these adults that has a more mature feel. Digimon Survive is very different from the previous titles like that, and I also people to have more of an interaction with their digital partners. Not only with the RPG raising the stats of these monsters or having them go out to battle with the stronger skills or anything. I want people to understand the monsters have more of a bond with their human partners so their actions and their speeches will have a big, big impact on how the monsters will grow.

This is why I decided to go with the visual novel genre, to make sure that people will be able to have different choices with their stories. They'll be able to create their own stories and have their digital partners evolve according to their choices.

During yesterday's panel, it was said the tone of Digimon Survive's story was going to be darker than most. What lead to that decision? How did that narrative for the game come about?

Kazumasa: Looking at all the trailers released as well as the demo, fans feel like the game is kind of dark, but I wasn't actually trying to make it that way. The the idea of the game came around to me as I watched Digimon Adventure, the anime. I was already an adult, and in the anime, I believe all of the characters are basically written as a hero and that causes them to be so positive and focus on all the positive things between human characters and digital monsters. The characters will have their challenges, will have their difficulties, but they'll always make the right decision.

But in the real world, that's doesn't work. I thought, 'If I am an adult who was sucked into such an unknown world, how would I react?' I think as an actual human being, people have their weaknesses, people have their fear the unknown. Not everyone would be able to make the right decision when they're scared, especially when people find these monsters are coming for them that want to kill you. In these, dangerous situations, a lot of people don't really make the right decision. I believe that human beings make mistakes, and I wanted to explore that story.

That is how this story came about. Sometimes, you don't have to try and become a hero. You just need to feel what's real and do whatever you, you feel like is right. Because of that, in this game, the characters are real and they make real decisions that can result in death or life. Then, the interaction between human characters and their digital partners become super important as the monsters are considered to be a reflection of their human's heart and the mind.

And even though the digital partners are basically a reflection of their human, they will make different decisions at times because the monsters will always make the choices according how their trainer raised them. However, humans will try to hide their fear or show their ego and they'll make decisions that are not true to their heart. I want the fans to be able to enjoy all of the possibilities that can happen in work.

Obviously, Digimon Survive puts a lot of focus on its story. So for fans of the franchise, how does this game expand on the anime if any? Does it take a different direction from the show?

Kazumasa: Asides from the story, the other thing we put a lot of effort into explaining in this game is what Digimon are and why they are called as such. In fact, we aren't calling them Digimon from the start, we just call them the monsters. Why is that? It's because while creating the concept of the game, I had several conversations with the director of the anime series Digimon Adventure, Hiroyuki Kakudo. We talked a lot about what Digimon are, and Kakudo-sensei's understanding of Digimon is that they're more of a spiritual being instead of digital. For people who played with the Virtual Pet, they understand Digimon only exist in the digital world so they're basically some kind of data. However, Kakudo-sensei believes these Digimon – these monsters have always been there. They have been around human beings in a more spiritual sense. It's not just like a data thing. So based on that, Kakudo-sensei thinks Digimon have always been their partners so they have a big bond and interact with each other a lot.

As I was making Digimon Survive, I wanted to work around the idea digital partners live in the digital world in some little gadget If these devices did not exist... what if the monsters already existed before the human beings ever entered the digital world? What would they be called? That is why we start the game with humans seeing these monsters in real world for the first time, and they don't know what they are. They're just calling them monsters because it's the first time for them to see these creatures.

So when people see these monsters for the first time and these monsters are coming to assault them, people will fear them. In this game, we see people encountering Digimon for the first time. So according to some old tales, sometimes people the monsters are more like old spiritual guides.

I also made this game with the understanding that fans are coming to the Digimon community at different stages. They have different understandings of Digimon. For people who played the Virtual Pet, then their understanding is that these monsters are basically AIs. So to them, Digimon eat data and make themselves evolve into different forms. However, in Digimon Survive, the monsters are mostly considered to be a spiritual being and are more similar to whatever people the monster is surrounded by. Even in Digimon Survive, the monsters have different feelings and and the choices the players make will give their partners different kinds of affections. All these affections will eventually affect how these Digimon grow and evolve into different forms. However, even if they change their forms, the heart of theses monsters remain the same no matter how they look.

Digimon Survive is one of the many games under the franchise's banner. In your view, what is the special thing about this title that sets it apart from previous Digimon games?

Kazumasa: There are two things I believe stand out. One of them is that in the past games, mostly the RPGs, usually you level up the Digimon to give them better status and skills for battle. However, in Digimon Survive, it's not the leveling up that dictates the parameter of stat growth. It's the interaction between the human characters and their different partners. So basically, as a visual novel, the choices the character make are the most influential elements for the Digimon to evolve. So please look forward to that part. The second thing is that in the previous games, it's always one main character interacting with one Digimon or at the most three of them. In this game, it's going to be eight characters at the same time interacting with eight Digimon.

It's not just the individual pairs of characters fans will interact with. It will be all of them together – human beings with human beings, Digimon with Digimon, and human beings with Digimon. There will be a lot of drama over there which is why I decided to use a battle system with a tactical bar that allows you to use all of the characters on a battlefield instead of just one of them. All these changes are so different from previous Digimon games, so I hope fans will be able to enjoy this expansion.