Following on from the Hyperdimension Neptunia remake in Neptunia ReVerse, we now have a new Neptunia release for the PS5 (and PC) which looks to focus on the candidates – in a similar way to MK2. Worth the wait? Lets take a look.
With the Goddesses out responding to a distress call from the faraway PC Continent, Nepgear and the other candidates are dispatched to an abandoned research facility to investigate a monster outbreak. They are quickly set upon by the Ashen Goddess, who traps them in a capsule and places them in a deep sleep. After they emerge from sleep 2 years later, they learn that Neptune has been missing since her mission to the PC Continent, and in the absence of its Goddess and Candidate, Planeptune & surrounding nations were ravaged by a series of strange outbreaks, referred to as the Trendi Phenomenon. Nepgear is tasked with turning things around in what will be the the greatest challenge she’s ever faced.
Story delivery continues to gradually improve as more story segments are 3D animated, granted most are still in the Live 2D style, but more often a major moment now is accompanied by section instead. While it lacks the comedy punch of gaming’s greatest protagonist, the story is generally good with Nepgear taking the lead for the most part this time. There’s plenty of new characters too from the PC continent alongside many returning faces from previous games, alongside multiple endings, so you’ll have plenty to grind through.
Playing on PS5 (though there is a PS4 & PC version too) means there surely has to be some improvement, and while it wont set the world alight, fans will see a noticeable boost over previous games. Many dungeons now sport much more detail, be it the environment or effects, with texture detail in particular a nice bump up over something like VII or the Senran Kagura crossover. Some of the returning enemies don’t look much better though, the reflective dogoos of ReVerse are now matte again for example, but the main cast have seen an up-tick in detail with self shadowing and small animations fleshing them out within the world.
All these improvements do seem to come at a cost, and that cost is framerate. The previous game on PS5, Neptunia ReVerse, ran a locked 4K/60, this new release keeps that 4K but seems to be plodding along at a capped 30fps instead. The PS5 should really be able to do more as, even though I’ve been giving it some praise, its not really pushing the system like other games do – the cap could just be a holdover from the PS4 version. It’s a shame there’s still no HDR too given the punchy colour palette on offer. At least it makes use of other PS5 features unlike some, loading is snappy and the Dualsense gets a bit of a workout with some surprising haptics used.
Outside of mainline games the gameplay can vary from each release to the next. With this being something of a mainline game (or at least I assume so) the RPG gameplay remains but has been changed. To put it simply, this time Neptunia plays like a Tales Of game as ooposed to a turn based JRPG. This means almost real time combat as you can freely move, dodge & block within the area, with attacks succumbing yo an AP system. Your chosen attacks carry an AP cost, your combos can be further customised with each move carrying a different cost, which gradually recharges during the fight.
Other than that the game is relatively similar to previous entries. There’s been a change to the disk system, now you can craft your own with different abilities for the equipped character depending on the disc used. Things like crafting and the lily rank system for example can usually be overlooked during a playthrough, but may also give you the tiny edge needed to defeat a boss and save some time grinding away. The typical world map & dungeon system is also back with a bang here, luckily there’s been some redesigned stuff otherwise coasting through Virtua Forest for the umpteenth time would have been a real drag.
Neptunia: Sisters Vs Sisters is a decent new endeavour for the goddesses, even if it’s not sure whether to be a mainline entry or spin-off. The story is fun at times, graphics have had a boost, and the Tales-Of inspired combat is engaging. Most of everything else though is similar to previous games though, which even some minor tweaks and a face-lift can’t hide to long standing fans. Neptunia fans will get the most out of the game, but it may also surprise others looking for a new JRPG to try.
While it lacks the Nep, there’s still more than enough interesting ideas to carry the rest of the game.