Super Neptunia RPG takes us on another spin-off adventure, and as is usually the case, switches things up by offering fans a different way to play. This release takes the player on a 2D action RPG adventure with an amnesiac Nep, on her usual quest to save the world. Does this spin-off offer another worthy distraction for the series? Lets take a look.
The game opens up with Neptune waking up alone in a 2D world with amnesia to boot. Having been found & recruited by the local government officials, Nep sets off to learn more about this retro version of a familiar world and hopefully regain her lost memory. Little does she know that nefarious characters are on the move in attempt to take civilization back to a time when 2D reigned supreme, so Nep & her allies will have their work cut out trying to return gamindustri back to 3D games.
Taken as a whole the story isn’t too bad, not quite reaching the best in the series nor as low as the worst, but as always gamings greatest protagonist has the charisma to carry it through. You’ll meet plenty of new faces and a few returning friends on the journey, the journey itself is where the first qualms with the game crop up. There’s plenty of questing to do as the side quests pile up, but they’re not always explained properly. You’ll occasionally find yourself stumped on how to progress a quest, even happened on a couple of main story quests, which can leave you aimlessly wondering or even in the wrong location. It’s not something that happens regularly, but it crops up enough to put a dampener on your travels.
One of the best aspects of this spin-off is undoubtedly the new 2D graphics. Each area now takes on a hand drawn look with regards to the backdrops, and the game as a whole tends to lean more towards a fantasy styling due to it. Character sprites are well detailed and suitably animated, with plenty of old enemies returning with a lick of fresh 2D paint. Dialogue sections now feature fully animated sprites, which makes for livelier conversations and is something I hope makes its way into future releases. The great voice-acting of the series is alive and well here, with the choice of an English or Japanese dub keeping most of the bases covered.
The move to 2D has another benefit, and that is in that great performance is easily attainable. My daily driver (R51600/16GB/Vega64) had no problem running the game at a locked 60fps in 4K, with my laptop (Core i7/8GB/HD7750) also putting out some good numbers with 50-60fps at all times at 1080p. There aren’t really any options to speak of to tweak settings, Resolution being the only one of note should you need to boost performance, but it should be relatively easy to run on modest hardware.
Gone is the typical turn based nature of the series, as is usually the case for Neptunia spin off games, offering up gameplay more in tune with an action RPG. It’s not an action RPG in the typical sense though, instead playing out similar to something like Fallen Legion. Your AP is what allows you to attack, and this gradually builds up until used. At first combat feels like a bit of a chore with just Nep in the party, but does become more interesting as your abilities & the party grows. Personally though I still found it to be a little lacking, don’t get me wrong it does work well, just lacks the tactical nuances found in the turn-based combat of the regular games and ultimately felt a little limiting.
Platforming is pretty much what you’ll be doing outside of combat. As long as you ain’t expecting Super Mario World levels of platforming goodness then you’ll no doubt have a little fun with. The layout of levels and the platforming aspect allow you to bypass enemies and offers up some exploration for hidden goodies, but really its relatively basic beyond that. You can’t use the platforming to your advantage all the time unfortunately, so you’ll still be hitting the grind every now & again.
It isn’t difficult to surmise that Super Neptunia RPG is a decent spin-off that’s ultimately more hit & miss than expected. The presentation is surprisingly good for this spin-off, the move to 2D bringing with it some additional benefits, and the story is generally good with Nep at its center. The cracks start to show elsewhere, with occasional head-scratching quest structure and gameplay that doesn’t quite make the most of the transition to 2D.
As a long time patron to the Church of Nep, it did feel a little underwhelming compared to other spin-offs, but there’s enough here thankfully to keep one busy whilst waiting on the next mainline entry in the series for gamings greatest protagonist. Newcomers to the series may actually enjoy this more to be honest, with the game as a whole generally more appealing if viewed from that angle.