Megadimension Neptunia VII (PS4)

MegadimensionNeptuniaVII_01Hyperdimension Neptunia’s franchise is a fairly new series that only showed back in 2010, yet its managed to gain quite a dedicated following, spawning a number of games including spinoffs and an anime series. At first the story sounds pretty basic for your general RPG, revolving around a world split into 4 domains watched over by 4 goddesses.  What makes the series so appealing is its rather niche premise and cast of characters, as each goddess represents a certain games console, with all of them competing in a literal battle for shares. Oh and don’t be confused by this games title, as Megadimension Neptunia VII isn’t the seventh game. You actually say it as V-2, or Victory 2, and it’s a follow up to the last Victory game.

We start off following the series lead character, Sega’s CPU representative Neptune, and her sister Nepgear, a CPU candidate, as they find a disused and fairly ancient looking Sega Dreamcast. While playing with the system the pair are sucked through a portal to another dimension where they find a decaying city bereft of all life. That is besides a cool red headed CPU attempting to fight off the worlds oppressors. That’s how it all starts but actually the game is split into three separate campaigns. The first is all about the events described above, as Neptune and her sister look for a way to get home while helping their new friend Uzume restore her home. The second involves the franchises other main CPU characters, where each one gets their own short chapters as you transition between them. Lastly, everything comes together to present the conclusion of the story.MegadimensionNeptuniaVII_03

Neptune and the gang who popularised the series, are again very good in this game, although they actually sit back for a large portion, as the new cast take centre stage. Take Uzume Tennouboshi (the Dreamcast CPU), cool, strong minded, with occasional cheery, childlike mood swings, is a nice change from the initial cheery two CPU’s, and has a strong story behind her as we basically see the last days of the Dreamcast era. Then there’s the rest of the new cast members, all representing third-party developers such as Square Enix, Konami, and Bandai Namco, each one bringing their own unique personality qualities. S-Sha (SquareEnix) for example shares a catch phrase with Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud, and some of her skills also make references to the same game.

The game will obviously appeal to fans of series, and there are plenty of references and nods to past titles to keep them happy. As for newcomers, it’s not necessary to have played through the previous games to enjoy this RPG’s plot. Some of the references and call backs will go over new player’s heads while some others give a simple overview of previous events. The best aspect about the story is that it really doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s filled with game and RPG tropes, with a number of anime clichés, including a fair amount of fan service, so you can expect a typical bathing scene, which now seems to crop up in any game with an anime style. Actually the fan service at times can be a bit much to bare, as you’re met with several cringe worthy moments. Just take for example the scenes in which you have these young looking girls discussing bust sizes during the previously mentioned bathing scenes, or the fact they lose a great deal of clothing when transforming to HDD form, and certain assets become uncomfortably larger.

The gameplay remains very similar to previous titles, playing out as a turn based RPG. The combat can be a bit mixed, as while there are some interest ideas, they take a long time to be implemented properly and there’s nothing we haven’t really seen before. Hitting the X button launches an attack after which, depending on where you’ve attached skills in the combo menu, you can then mash the triangle, square or X button to chain a short combo together. Standard is a general attack, power emphasizes strength, and rush increases your hit combo. Overall though there’s no significant difference between them that I could see other than rush increasing the EX drive gauge slightly faster. Alternatively, you can use some of your SP to perform a special attack to deal much larger damage. Of course HDD attacks return, powering up our heroines at the cost of some of the aforementioned EX drive gauge, resulting in some over the top flashy solo/team attacks.

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Setting up the position of your characters on the battle field is an element that is explained early, but it seems pointless in the initial build-up of the game. It’s only in the later stages where you find yourself messing around with this mechanic; as enemies start to don more armour. When faced with these enemies positioning characters in a certain way is more of a requirement, as you can perform explosive specials to breaking the armour and deal the max amount of damage possible. This new addition to the combat is called a Tri attack, which needs the team setup surround the enemy and uses Ex-gauge bar to work. With movement within the battle zone limited to a very small distance though, they’re not always easy to setup straight from the get go. Battles aren’t particularly hard, and generally you can finish them off quickly, but they’re constant so getting progressing through a dungeon with all of your recovery items intact is a struggle.

Another nice feature is the rewards system which gifts you fun little perks for doing practically anything at all. I could be performing specials, healing allies, avoiding damage or even just jumping around, which is good for anyone who likes taping a button while they run around exploring. Although in this game you do have to put up with irritating sound clips like ‘boing’ and ‘like a kangaroo’ each time you perform a hop. Perks include increased HP, attack power and intelligence and seeing your stats increase for doing something so mundane makes for a nice treat. Just remember to save often as there is no autosave feature. I lost track how many times I had to replay a dungeon just because of one unfortunate slip up.

Hyperdimensions quirky cast of anime heroines have always been the main visual focus, and once again they look fantastic. The character models on the PS4 have been refined further so they’re more pleasing to look at. During cutscenes each character has a nice range of animation despite them essentially being 2D still portraits. Their facial features are animated nicely and in such a way in that the scenes are fun to watch. As for the visual appeal of everything else that’s another story. Locations appear fairly large, but there’s not a lot to do in them and they’re not much to look at with not one memorable area to be found. As for enemies, besides the enormous bosses, all of them are very generic, with many looking out of place from each other, while the others are just reskinned models found earlier in the game.

Megadimension Neptunia VII’s combat system is nothing really groundbreaking. There are a number of fun and interesting battle mechanics to play around with, but it takes a good deal of time before they’re all really needed. However Neptunia title will obviously be welcomed by its fans, and it makes a nice entry point for those wanting to get into the series with it’s fun and amusing plot, along with fantastic character development.

6.8
Positives
+ Fun and sometimes hilarious story
+ Parodying game industry and culture
+ Lots of different gameplay mechanics
+ Character art style looks fantastic
Negatives
– Takes a while for combat mechanics to really be implemented
– No memorable environments, and generic enemy designs
– Fan service can be too much

 
This review is based off a review code of Megadimension Neptunia VII provided by Idea Factory.

This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.

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