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Digimon Survive: The Karma System Explained

The "Digimon" franchise, while never quite matching the popularity of "Pokémon," has cultivated a dedicated fanbase over the years. Its media presence has expanded far beyond the initial line of the virtual pet toys and into dozens of other markets including manga, anime, and video games. One of the newest additions to this line-up is "Digimon Survive," a giant, 80-100 hour long JRPG featuring gorgeous animated story segments and turn-based combat. This game was made in celebration of the anime's 25-year anniversary and follows "a brand-new group of teenagers, led by Takuma Momozuka, [who] get lost on a school camping trip, finding them transported to a strange new world of monsters and danger" (via Bandai Namco).

"Survive" features several new mechanics split across three separate gameplay types: visual novel style storytelling, exploration and tactical combat. And while each of these parts of the game are distinct, they also may affect each other in very real ways. Players will also be asked to make several decisions over the course of the game, and the choices that they make will have repercussions that will be reflected in how the story unfolds and the way the game plays. One of the more unique features that comes as a result of this is the Karma System. Here's how it works.

Karma will affect how Agumon evolves

As explained via PlayStation.Blog, Takuma's decisions will have a direct effect on the relationship he has with his Digimon partner, Agumon. Producer Kazumasa Habu stated during a 2022 Anime Expo Summer Showcase Panel, "In the 'Digimon Survive' setting, Digimon are basically the reflection of what is inside the human heart. And the bond between the Digimon and the human partners are being tested in this sort of dangerous situation. Because of that, each choice you make will have a great impact on how the Digimon will evolve." This is the backbone of how the game's Karma system works.

Basically, the player will have choices ranging from things as simple as basic dialogue options and what Takuma will do in the morning to whether he will run or fight in life and death situations. Each of these decisions will affect his Karma score, which will then affect Agumon's evolutionary path, since he is a reflection of Takuma. This isn't just a simple "Good vs. Bad" meter, though. It's a little more complicated.

Three kinds of Karma

According to PlayStation.Blog, "Digimon Survive" features three different kinds of Karma that the player can accrue throughout the game: Moral, Harmony and Wrathful. None of these exactly cancel out any of the others, but whichever score is the highest is the one that will affect Agumon's growth.

Takuma's Moral Karma score will go up when the player makes choices that emphasize behaving in a manner that is just or cautious. Having a strong moral compass and following the rules seem to be the essence of this path. The Harmony score is based around being compassionate and looking for ways to end conflict without fighting. It might seem like there would be a lot of crossover between Harmony and Moral, but the game makes each of these choices distinct. Wrathful Karma can be accrued by being straight-forward and making sure achieving the objective is the top priority. These options don't seem to be ruthless exactly, but they are certainly more aggressive than the alternatives.

Players don't need to worry about figuring out which response falls into which category, however. The game makes it easy by not only color-coding each response by Karma-type, but also keeping them in the same space on the text window. Moral choices are in the yellow text box, Harmony choices are in the green text box on the right, and Wrathful choices are in red.

Three Attribute Types

So Karma will affect how Agumon will evolve, but what does that mean in terms of mechanics? Well, each evolutionary path will specialize in a specific attribute, sort of like the elemental types in "Pokémon." The Moral evolution path will specialize in a Vaccine attribute, the Harmony path will specialize in Data and the Wrathful path will specialize in Virus.

Each of these is stronger against one attribute and weaker against the other. PlayStation.Blog states explains, "the attribute of the Digimon also plays a significant role in combat. 'Digimon Survive' employs a rock-paper-scissor combat mechanic where Vaccine > Virus > Data > Vaccine. Keep in mind that these will not be direct counters, but a rule of thumb when determining efficacy of attacks."

These attributes also affect how successful the player will be at recruiting new Digimon in Free Battle mode. The Digimon in question will ask the player a few questions and responses that are Karmically in tune with their attribute type will make them more likely to want to work together. It's not just about making the right choice, though. Having a high Karma score in the correct attribute will increase the chances of success. This suggests players will want to gain some points in all three Karma categories and not simply dump them all into one. That way, they will be able to recruit Digimon with multiple attribute types.