Game Review: MegaDimension Neptunia VII (PS4)
15/03/2016 Leave a comment
Idea Factory’s onslaught of visual-novel styled role-playing-games continues with the PS4 debut of the Hyperdimension franchise; otherwise known as MegaDimension Neptunia VII.
So; how does the power of the PS4 console make the Hyperdimension experience any better? or is it the same game but a different story? Well let’s find out in our review of MegaDimension Neptunia VII for the PS4.
|Title:||MegaDimension Neptunia VII|
|Publisher:||Idea Factory International|
|Resolution:||1920 x 1080
|Audio:||English & Japanese|
Published by Idea Factory International, and developed by Compile Heart, MegaDimension Neptunia VII is the sequel to the previously released PS3 games (and PS Vita ports) Hyperdimension Neptunia and it is a game that once again sees our favourite CPU – and CPU Candidates – of Gamindustri in another world of trouble; but just not exactly how you would imagine it.
Past Hyperdimension titles have featured a singular story that have progressed and evolved as the game goes along; but in MegaDimension there are actually three stories on offer alongside the reoccurring storyline of the CPU Shift Period. In short three different types of storylines are on offer and while they may cover different aspects and environments the objective of defeating the final enemy, clearing dungeons and levelling-up remain the same.
As mentioned three different storylines are on offer but that’s not the only thing that’s different; as each major storyline even comes with its own Game Name, Start-up screen and opening animation (some of which you may have seen on our Youtube Channel). For instance the first story, known as Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU, sees Neptune and Nepgear as they are transported into an alternate dimension and find themselves helping out a local CPU defeat a massive giant that’s causing destruction across the land. The second story however, otherwise known as Hyperdimension Neptunia G: The Golden Leaders, Reconstructors of Gamindustri, introduces the new cast of CPU’s, known as the Gold Third, that could potentially take-over the four great nations of Gamindustri. The third and final storyline of MegaDimension Neptunia VII is known as Heartdimension Neptunia H: Trilogy Finale: Into Legend and, as you would expect, brings events and characters from the whole game to offer a true conclusion to the main story that’s being foretold.
The main story, which overshadows the events of each individual storyline, is the events of the CPU Shift Period; a time which sees the citizens of Gaminudstri vote who they want as their ruler, or CPU if you prefer, of that particular nation. As such each of the main great nations (Planetune, Lastation, Lowee and Leanbox) and their CPU’s (Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert) take part in PR campaigns and events in order to boost their popularity amongst the citizens and make other potential CPU Candidates aware that they are better suited to the job at hand. Ironically enough you would suspect the younger sisters of each nation, i.e. Nepgear and Uni, to take centre stage during this CPU Shift Period but in fact it introduces brand new characters in the form the Gold Third. Unlike the current CPU’s, which are “personalisation’s” of games consoles these characters are personalisation’s of popular Japanese publishers; such as Bandai Namco, Konami, Capcom and Square Enix. For the most part these new characters remain in the background… that is until they become part of the main storyline and attempt to other throw the nations by spreading rumours and engaging with the public in secret; much to the annoyance of Neptune and Noire.
It’s an interesting concept for a storyline and its one that completely re-writes the experiences found within past Hyperdimension titles which tend to focus on a singular cause. Of course familiar bad guys, such as Afoire, make their return but alongside them come new enemies and opponents to defeat – and that’s combined with the sheer number of new monsters available to defeat in dungeons. As you can probably see the story is quite varied, deep and engaging but unlike past games there’s no real chapter marking put in place. Past Hyperdimension titles used ‘chapters’ to highlight how far you are progressing within a game; in MegaDimension it is done in the form of ‘episodes’ whereby each major objective or task – most of which last around 30 minutes – have an ‘next episode preview’ segment once the task is completed. For instance if your objective is to explore a dungeon and obtain a power source then once this task has been completed the ‘episode’ will end and a next episode preview element will appear. It may sound bizarre, and offer a completely different RPG experience, but on the whole it’s a nice idea as for those that wish to play in thirty minute segments – such as me – it gives a nice stopping point on where to continue next.
Once again; the story is filled with fourth-wall –breaking comments, playful banter and comical antics but unlike past games it doesn’t feel as fresh as it could’ve been. Sure enough the introductions of new characters, and the re-introduction of past friends – such as Iffy and Compa – provide some fresh dialogue but the jokes just don’t seem as quirky and fun as past games. Furthermore unlike past Hyperdimension games i’ve played only selective dialogue sequences have a voice-over with the remainder just being text; even if it is part of the main story. The combination of a lack of a voice-over and bland dialogue sequences makes the visual-novel element, which takes-up at least 60% of the game, a rather disappointing experience – which is a shame as past ‘Dimension’ games have always been engaging and fun.
Of course a lack of a voice-over doesn’t mean the end of the world; but on most RPG games (and visual novels) you expect voice-overs during crucial storyline elements while side-quests, or conversations which don’t affect the storyline, would be text with no voice over. You could consider it a personal observation but in my eyes it does affect the overall presentation of the game. Speaking of ‘presentation’ MegaDimension Neptunia isn’t the most ‘visually aesthetic’ game and as such the graphics do not seem much of an improvement over the PC releases of Hyperdimension Neptunia with most areas looking relatively bland and basic.
Niggles aside MegaDimension offers a solid JPRG experience and those familiar with HyperDimension Neptunia will be extremely comfortably with this next-gen release. Traditional turn-based-combat returns and players are freely available to run-around the dungeons in order to attack opponents. Dungeons are found on selective –unlockable- points on a map and while walking between destinations on the map random battles can take place; so cautain is advised. Speaking of attacking players can use ‘standard’ or ‘skill’ type attacks; both of which can be customised when new attacking methods are learned. For example at the start of the game only a traditional attack can be used; but as you progress you can add different types of attacks – some of which come with additional effects; such as a flame attack. When using a standard attack players can attack up to 5 fives – depending on level and attacking methods equipped – while Skills will use a varied amount of MP.
It may seem relatively complicated; but it is the same old type of combat that we know and love from the Hyperdimension Universe although some new additions have been added. For instance the new Tri Burst ability allows for a unified team attack if certain requirements are met; such as three characters surrounding the enemy at once with 1 EX Guage available for use. It’s a nice ‘ace-up-the-sleeve’ and falls alongside the HDD mode for useful attacks to have when in a pinch. It’s not just attacks and skills that can be customised either; as players can also change their parties formation (where they appear on the game) and team-attack-abilities as well change the weapons and outfits that they are using.
MegaDimension seems to have it all; a colourful cast of characters, an explorative seemingly never-ending story and hours upon hours of visual-novel styled RPG gameplay however while this is true the game can be ‘exceedingly’ difficult if not painful. For starters levelling up in MegaDimension can be a painfully slow process, even when visiting a later dungeon with much powerful enemies, and as such progressing forward through the story can also be an extremely slow process. I am no stranger to grinding through the levels to become stronger, i actually infact welcome it, but when you enter a dungeon and enemies can defeat you within three hits it does become questionable. This question is also raised again when boss fights, such as the Giant in Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU, can defeat your entire team within a single hit. As a result of this difficulty you may find yourself thrown back to the main menu and re-loading your old save; so my recommendation would be to save – and to do it often!
For me MegaDimension Neptunia VII offered an odd balance of disappointments and enjoyment which led me to a rather ‘marmite’ type of experience with the game. The characters, the storyline, the colourful banter and the fights i enjoyed but the mixture of voice-over and plain-text and it’s steep difficulty curve three hours in to the game made it a rather shallow experience. Those who enjoyed past Hyperdimension titles will love what MegaDimension has to offer, as its pretty much the same type of game with new gameplay elements thrown in for added measure; those who aren’t familiar with Hyperdimension can still enjoy the game – and it is a great way to be introduced to the franchise – but its long-narrative-driven content and lack of ‘actual’ dungeon roaming may put some people off.
MegaDimension Neptunia VII is now available for the PS4.