Platform: Playstation 4Developer: Compile Heart, TamsoftPublisher: Idea Factory InternationalRelease Date: 13/10/2017Code Supplied by: Idea Factory International
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is the latest release in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, as a collaboration between series stalwarts Tamsoft & Compile Heart looks to bring fans an MMO-eque adventure as the goddesses partake in a little Beta testing. Will everything be as simple as it sounds? Lets find out.
The Goddesses (Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert) have been selected to be beta testers for the new version of a popular online game. Upon meeting up within the world of Alsgard, the girls are quickly greeted by Bouquet – an AI assistant (or guardian spirit) tasked with helping all new adventurers. The goddesses are told they are the chosen ones and have been tasked with collecting the 4 trinkets needed to revive the goddesses of this world. Their revival is needed as danger looms over the land due to the return of the villinous Demon King.
You play as the goddesses & candidates as they play a game, which doesn’t sound so odd when you consider this is a Hyperdimension Neptunia game. The standard roster forms the core of the story for this release, but that doesn’t mean others are left out. Quite a few characters from spin-offs make cameos which should delight long time fans, and there’s some new characters as well. The story is told in the typical way with visual novel style dialogue, though the Live 2D of Compile Heart releases is gone. The sprites aren’t animated as much as a consequence so these sections don’t seem as lively at first, but there’s plenty more reactions to try and mask this. As with VII there are a some cutscenes using the in-game engine and these look better than ever with more detail & animation. If you want to take a break from the story tho the game does offer up some multiplayer. This comes in the form of 4 player co-op dungeon crawling, with the rewards scaling well with the difficulty. There’s some good loot to be had when playing with friends and it does offer some extra longevity.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is the sizeable graphical upgrade over those Neptunia releases that have come before, even Victory II on Ps4. It’s easy to see why once you realise the switch to Unreal Engine 4 and the moe is all the better for it. The upgrade hits you straight away as you’re dropped into the first area that features plenty of lush scenery. The vista’s stretch out, plenty of foliage, long grass that blows in the wind and the lighting is certainly a step up – and that’s just the environments. Character models are improved a little too, with some goodies added by the engine to animate clothing & hair. There’s also some new enemy designs alongside the usual returning fodder, though these look better than ever due to the improved lighting & shading. The audio side of things is business as usual for the series, with the optional dub complimenting the games liberal use of recorded dialogue.
The upgrade via Unreal Engine 4 hasn’t gone entirely smoothly tho, with performance being a little off at times. It’s usually dependent on the dungeon you are in, those that employ more effects are hit whilst others are smooth, but thankfully it doesn’t ever hit unplayable levels and tends to manifest itself as stutter for the most part. Anyone expecting a worthwhile Pro boost will be disappointed. I was hoping to get a 4K/HDR glimpse of Neptunes shimapan to really make the white dazzle, but there hasn’t been any upgrade at all by the looks of things – even performance is pretty similar between the 2 Ps4 consoles. The only other quirk with the game is the loading at the start. If you’ve ever played GTA3/Vice City on Ps2 then you’ll have an idea of the wait, only I’m not sure why there’s one so long as the games structure is similar to other games in the series. Maybe it’s to do with the engine?
With this release being a collaboration between Tamsoft & Compile Heart, it incorporates elements both developers are known for. Combat is strictly action based, as you would expect of Tamsoft, which is fast based and includes the likes of dashing to give it more of a hack & slash feel. RPG elements come in the form of abilities and the break system, which you tend to find in Neptunia Jrpg’s. Almost all other aspects of the game are Compile Heart with the game structured just like a typical release in the series with a few twists. Most of the tweaks come in weapon & equipment building, as the numerous oddities dropped by defeated foes can now be used at the Blacksmith. Here new equipment can be crafted or improved upon using the many items collected during a dungeon run, and it’s something you’ll need to do regularly. There’s also gems that can be procured or purchased, and these augment the abilities of your party members. You can play as each of the goddesses and candidates, with each having a different role. This allows for a lot of variation in abilities and play style, as well as tactically putting together the best party for the situation. The girls can also be customised further via the loot found that offers more costumes and weapons.
I mentioned a loot system, but don’t be expecting shiny trinkets of worthlessness falling from almost every foe that you slay. You may get the odd loot from a strong enemy, but most will be found within locked treasure chests spread around the dungeon. The keys for these are usually dropped by enemies or given as rewards when completing quests. Better loot can be had online as the ramp up in difficulty should be rewarded in kind, but going in unprepared or with an unbalanced team can make the game a slog. That’s the biggest problem with the game really, it doesn’t half feel like a slog at times when you’re stuck battling through a tough dungeon to reach a quest objective. Sure there’s abilities and the like to mix things up, but for the most part you can get through by just bashing Square. I guess you could say they’ve at least nailed the feel of an MMO.
Cyberdimension Neptunia sees you playing as the goddesses as they beta test an MMO, and it manages to blend both aspects into a decent package. The story is as fun as always and will keep you going through the MMO slog, the playable character class variety, loot and graphical upgrade adds to the variation to try and keep the repetition at bay. There’s some performance woes and a lack of variation in the core action based gameplay tho, but this latest release keeps up the tradition of offering a goofy escapade that will surely delight fans the most.
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Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) - 7/10
- Another Nep filled adventure
- Fast paced action RPG gameplay
- Finest graphics in the series yet
- Online loot filled dungeon clearing co-op
- The games action based nature could get repetitive
- Performance can sometimes stutter, No Ps4 Pro upgrades?
- Dialogue sections lack Live 2D
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