It’s been a few years since a mainline release in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, the previous game (Victory) saw a release during 2013 in Europe, and we now have the latest. Megadimension Neptunia VII marks the first entry for the series on Sony’s latest console. Does Compile Heart’s latest bring praise to the goddesses, or does it cause the masses to lose faith? Let’s take a look…
Megadimension Neptunia VII picks up from Victory as Nep-Nep goes on another dimension hopping adventure. The game opens with Neptune finding a retro Dreamcast inspired console and hurriedly heads back to the Basilicom for some quality gaming time. Upon sitting down with Nepgear and firing up the console, a vortex opens dragging them both into the Zero dimension. Curiously, there are three dimension adventures in total on this game. Each is different, they even have their own intros & themes making them feel as though they are self-contained mini RPG’s on the same disk, with their own new characters to meet and worlds to explore.
The goofy & joke filled writing is back and is just as good as hoped, having Neptune back as the protagonist also helps as she has the charisma to carry a story during its lulls. To be honest my enjoyment was stifled a little by the dub, which is the only option available till launch day DLC is downloaded. It just gives off a different vibe for each character over the Japanese audio. Neptune for example doesn’t come across as goofy & charismatic, instead sounding like a preppy Nikelodeon teenager. It helped that the games storytelling has improved over the previous release though. Most of the story is still delivered in the traditional style, but we now see in-game cut scenes interspersed amongst the dialogue sequences. There’s even full anime styled animated sequences at numerous parts of each story, which whilst a little jarring at times – is good to see from a developer that has a shoe string budget.
The game does offer up some changes, although there is still a lot of features and content from previous releases. As you would expect, crafting and the like make a return & work just as they did in previous releases. Instead, additions have been done in other areas – such as the map screen which now sees you following a path (similar to the system employed in something like Agarest) and all new giant boss battles that require planning ahead each move to get the most out of. Compile Heart have kept any changes to the formula to a minimum, which will disappoint and please in equal measure no doubt for many with the series’ first foray onto the Playstation 4.
One area not touched at all is the games delivery of cheeky fan-service moments. No doubt the sight of Uzume’s peachy butt & Neptune’s glory (screenshot below) will have some clutching pearls and preparing a patreon/kickstarter funded YouTube series, but its lighthearted delivery is a staple of the series and always comes across as a bit of goofy fun – long may it continue.
The games familiarity with the rest of the series continues with the gameplay. Familiarity can be a double-edged sword though, here in particular. VII plays exactly as you would expect a mainline Neptunia game to play, with plenty of dungeon exploring & turn based battles galore. It’s a simple system for newcomers to grasp, with many other aspects to the combat that give it depth for those seeking an added edge. The likes of formations, support systems (boosted by the lily system), EX drive and customisable combo’s make a return, with some additions. The biggest addition is the combination attacks which allow all party members to attack as one when lined up.
For someone like myself, who would occasionally surround an enemy so as to not have too many attacked at once, it can now be seen as a great offensive tactic as well. It particularly comes in handy during those typical Compile Heart difficulty spikes that spring up occasionally to remind you that you didn’t grind enough. A well-timed attack could be the difference between scraping past a boss or reloading that save from an hour ago instead. The overly familiar nature of the gameplay mechanics can hurt the game a little, especially if you’ve recently finished the Rebirth releases, as the few additions only add an extra tactical layer & don’t switch things up much – if at all. With VII you know exactly what you’re going to get, and how the familiarity will affect your view of the game is dependent in your expectations – but don’t we all just play Neptunia for Nep-Nep’s goofiness anyway?
Visually, Neptunia VII can be somewhat of a mixed bag. There are certainly times when things look much improved, given the extra horsepower of the Ps4, whereas other times it’s hard to see a difference aside from the resolution bump. It looks great at its best with improved texturing & rendering techniques, but these improvements don’t seem to be applied universally. Some dungeons aren’t much improved over previous Ps3 offerings, and oddly enough, come with performance niggles in the form of judder when the camera is pointed in a certain direction.
To be honest, it’s not as bad as it sounds – but it does make for an uneven presentation. Audio is handled better with much that will please fans, as well as additional voices added to the foes you meet in battle. The English dub is of a good quality too (to clear any confusion – subjectively I hate it, but objectively its good) and will please those that have used it previously. It’s a shame the graphical aspect is a little uneven, but then no one is really expecting Compile Heart to brings us assets at the level of something a AAA studio can do. There’s enough here though to hopefully bring a future release that’s improved and fully loaded for Sony’s latest console.
As I’ve noted in the main review body, familiarity can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it can ease anyone into the game that has sampled the series previously, but on the other it can also lead to a little fatigue. Here, Compile Heart seems to have played it safe and they just about get away with it. There’s some good additions and plenty of game to get through, but it’s starting to feel that the mainline series is soon to need a little rejuvenation. Till then, we have this fairly enjoyable romp!
Megadimension Neptunia VII (Ps4) - 7/10
Who should buy this
- Hyperdimension Neptunia fans
- looking for a decent Jrpg on Ps4
- A goofy & lighthearted story is what you need
- Nep-Nep is gamings greatest protag
Who should avoid this
- fans looking for a revolution in the series
- you have issues with fan-service
- your Ps4 games need to look & perform amazingly
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