Review: Megadimension Neptunia VII (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): February 2, 2016
- Release Date (EU): February 12, 2016
- Publisher: Idea Factory
- Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
- Genres: Role-playing
- ESRB Rating: Teen
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
After numerous outings on the Playstation 3, PS Vita and PC, the Neptunia series makes its jump to Playstation 4. While Megadimension Neptunia VII’s plot isn’t heavily bound by previous entries in the series, newcomers will miss a few references here and there, and a bit of character backstory, so it’s best to play the first game (or Rebirth 1) onwards before playing VII. Not to mention, it’s the first cannonical entry since 2012’s Hyperdimention Neptunia: Victory. For those who don’t know, the Neptunia games take place in the world of Gamindustri, a land ruled by 4 “CPU” goddesses that represent video game consoles. You’ve got Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox, and Lowee, representing Sega, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo respectively. That said, the majority of this game’s humor and dialogue are directed at video game stereotypes and tropes.
Time travel, alternate dimensions, and evil twins, oh my!
Megadimension’s story starts out as an average day in the world of Gamindustry. Neptune, flagship character and CPU of Planeptune, and Nepgear, her sister, stumble across a strange looking device which teleports them to an alternate dimension, on the verge of destruction. Here, the two meet Uzume Tennouboshi, a girl with amnesia, who knows only that she must fight against the monsters trying to destroy her world. Uzume also has the power to cast her “dreams” into reality at will. If you haven’t guessed by this point, her character and theme represent Sega’s final attempt at staying in the home console industry; the Dreamcast. Megadimension’s writing is chock full of neat little references like that.
New to Megadimension Neptunia VII are the Golden Third, a group of four girls each satirizing third party video game companies. (Square Enix, Capcom, Konami, and Bandai Namco, specifically) There’s a lot of little extra details put into each of these characters, such as victory poses, special attacks or quotes being based upon games that those studios are famous for. This combined with characters from previous games leads to the best cast of characters in a Neptunia game so far.
The game’s story is essentially split into 3 separate arcs; Zero Dimension, Hyperdimension G, and Heartdimension. The Zero Dimension arc focuses on Uzume and her world, Hyperdimension G is about Neptune, her world, and the mysterious antagonist group, Golden Third. Finally, Heartdimension lets you travel between the previously established dimensions and concludes the story of all the introduced characters. The plot isn’t really anything to write home about, it’s just there to have fun and frame the dialogue and cast.
While Zero Dimension is a great little jaunt, offering just the right amount of challenge and fun, Hyperdimension G will require annoyingly repetitive amounts of grinding levels in order to proceed. Most notorious of this are the segments where you play as only one character, since fighting against groups of 3 or more enemies without backup can get very irksome, and usually results in a swift game over screen. Heartdimension is the best of the arcs, offering a balanced amount of gameplay and story.
All three parts of the main story should take about 40+ hours to complete. For those willing to meet the requirements, there is also a “True Ending” which requires multiple playthroughs to unlock.
The graphics and visual side of things are mixed. Colors are vivid and pretty, but dungeons wind up looking quite boring and repetitive despite that. There’s not enough variety, to both enemies and locations, which is a shame seeing as how creative the rest of the game is. On the other hand, observant veterans of the series will notice that all of the 2D character artwork has been overhauled and redrawn, which looks fantastic. Megadimension Neptunia VII also runs at a silky smooth 1080p/60fps, making battle animations look beautiful and fluid. The character models themselves are well designed and pleasant to look at. On the subject of audio, just about half of the game’s dialogue/writing is voiced. The performance of the english dub is high quality, and lends a lot to the characters. However, if you prefer the original Japanese voices, they're available to download as free DLC on the PSN store.
Just like previous Neptunia games, throughout the story are CG cutscene stills, which will range from relatively normal to gratuitous fanservice. Of course, anything too lewd is conveniently covered, so it never goes too far. Compared to Victory 1, the levels of fanservice have been dialed back a little bit.
Gameplay-wise, there's been a few tweaks to the mechanics of previous games. During treks through dungeons, character stats will raise after running, jumping, or smashing a set amount of times. It's a really neat feature that encourages exploring each of the levels. For combat, Neptunia VII has done away with the series staple of enemies having a guard bar you had to deplete before dealing lots of damage. Now, most foes just have multiple health bars to whittle down instead. Another feature new to Neptunia VII are giant boss battles. As interesting as the concept of huge boss fights sounds, it’s largely uninteresting. These fights take place in close quarters, with small floating platforms surrounding the boss. Only ranged attacks can be used, so all it boils down to is moving each character to a separate platform and spamming your super attacks until you win.
Regular battles still take place in a circular arena where you can maneuver your characters to attack the enemy. Offensive attacks consist of simple combos of standard, rush, and power hits and flashy super attacks. Combo Attacks start off limited at first, but once you level up, you unlock new attacks that you can chain. They each have different properties, and its fun to unleash a properly set combo that does massive damage. Some specific characters also have powerful Formation Attacks that can be used when you position them correctly in battle. If that wasn't enough, early on you're introduced to a Parts Break mechanic. If you target an enemy's weakness with a Formation Attack, pieces of the monster will break off, rewarding you with rare items. The problem with this though, is that there were only a few instances where it was useful, and you're never explicitly told whether the enemies are especially susceptible to those attacks.
During the 2nd arc onwards, you'll have a wealth of options available outside of dungeons in each capital city of Gamindustry. Shares, which give the CPUs power, can now be earned by taking on simple quests like defeating 10 of a specific enemy or obtaining a rare item drop. When you have enough shares, the CPUs gain the ability to temporarily transform into stronger forms, which is very useful against tougher foes. Having enough shares will also net you extra bonuses, like stat boosts. Credits, the form of in-game currency gained from defeating enemies, can be invested in the capital in order to get shares or unlock new items. The most interesting feature are the scouts. By sending a scout to a dungeon, they can affect certain things such as increasing EXP, Credits, or item drops (At the cost of something else, ie. sending a scout that increases gained EXP by 10% will also lower Credits received by 5%) after winning fights. They can also find Credits, new dungeons or more scouts!
Neptunia VII marks another solid entry for the for Idea Factory/Compile Heart's wacky series. Megadimension Neptunia VII is a fantastic game for veterans of the franchise to pick up, and a reason for newcomers to look into the Neptunia games.
+ Characters and dialogue
+ The combo system
- Overworld encounters feel like a waste of time
- The second arc drags a slight bit
- The tutorials aren't useful in explaining gameplay
While the limited amount of enemies and dungeon design gets bland incredibly quickly, the fantastic character designs, catchy soundtrack, and voicework all more than make up for it.
The new mechanics and polished gameplay are welcome additions. There's a lot of depth to the battle system, though it can be a bit repetitive early on.
The main campaign, in typical JRPG fashion, offers a lot of content to go through. If you're up for the NG+ go rounds needed for the best ending, completing all the side quests, or getting all the trophies will also add tons of hours of gameplay.
out of 10
(not an average)
Megadimension Neptunia VII is a great JRPG, with witty writing, fun and polished combat, and a vast amount of content to keep players coming back. The game never takes itself too seriously, allowing for a very enjoyable experience.