The long-running Neptunia RPG series from Compile Heart and Idea Factory has taken a turn for the tactical with their game Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart. This spinoff game has Noire as the lead protagonist and turns the traditional RPG game into a turn-based tactics one with chibi styled battles with the help of developer Sting.
Not that anyone is too invested in the storylines of the Neptunia games, but HyperDevotion Noire has perhaps one of the weakest. The story is still dealt out in visual novel-style cutscenes before and after story missions, and the humorous and witty dialogue is as meta as ever. The story revolves around lonesome Goddess Black Heart’s quest to unite Gamarket and in so doing she must recruit a battalion of generals and put a stop to the ever nefarious Arfoire.
While the actual story isn’t a big selling point of Hyperdevotion Noire it does incorporate some great new characters in addition to the four goddesses we know and love like, Chun-Li inspired Lee Fi and Pac-Man homage Lady Wac. Another fun bit of fan service the game adds is a self-insert male character who becomes Noire’s secretary and gets to engage in some playful flirtations with the tsundere embodiment of PlayStation. So while players may not care why they’re winning over generals to fight against the big baddie, they may enjoy meeting them and getting to know their unique skill sets and quirky personalities.
Most cutscenes are nicely voiced, and the art and music are the same as in preceding games in the franchise. Once players begin a mission, the world gets chibified. All characters are shrunk down into adorable chibi versions of themselves to move around the grid-laden battle arena and execute over-the-top special move animations.
The more missions you play with a specific character, the better you’ll get to know them. Racking up play time with different characters will unlock special events with them. Helping Noire outside of missions will also unlock events with her that will further your relationship. These unlockable events have amusing dialogue and are a nice little touch to bring that RPG feel into the turn-based tactics game.
Indeed, Hyperdevotion Noire does an excellent job of translating the elements found in all the main story Neptunia RPG’s into a new genre of gameplay. Equipable items, crafting and of course grinding are all crucial elements in the game. Cracking open chests and defeating enemies during missions will collect items that can later be sold, crafted or equipped as you choose.
Even many of the arena’s players will battle on are recreations of dungeons from previous Neptunia games made to work within the grid necessary for a turn-based tactics game. In addition to a variety of familiar enemies (like chocobo’s and dogoo’s), there are also obstacles that can deal damage and get in the way of your goals. Positioning and turn-order are essential to success.
Many missions require players simply defeat all the enemies. There are also an excellent variety of challenges from your typical “defeat enemies in X amount of turns” to objectives perched on high plateaus that players will need to stack boxes into staircases to reach. The creative and even puzzle-like challenges presented in missions keep the gameplay from getting tedious.
Another thing that keeps the turn-based missions from getting dull is the creative integration of the story into the missions. For example, when recruiting soccer loving general Wyn, the battlefield is a soccer field, and characters are set up in a formation reminiscent of a soccer match. In another mission, the protagonists are trying to slip by enemies to get to another objective and the characters simply have to make it to the arena’s exit without being defeated.
For story reasons certain characters will be removed from or obligatorily added to the team, you bring on a mission, so it’s important that players cycle through their roster and get a variety of generals leveled up and equipped. Elemental attacks are still apart of the game, and it’s a good idea to have a balanced combination of characters equipped with various elemental charms. Elemental affinity will allow players to open valuable chests and have more effective attacks against certain enemies.
Aside from elemental attacks, there’s also a long list of status effects carried over to this TBT game. From turning into tofu to getting a virus, the status effects range from minor annoyance to debilitating disease and keeping track of the effects and their antidotes can be a challenge. Luckily Histy’s library of game elements is always accessible during battle.
Lily Ranks work a little differently in Hyperdevotion Noire. Executing special attacks while adjacent to another character gives that attack a little boost (indicated by a kawaii kiss on the cheek) and earns Lily Points for turning on HDD Mode and using an ultra special attack for each character when you’ve accumulated enough. This makes positioning a crucial element of gameplay.
The missions can be pretty challenging and grinding is essential to beating bosses with ease. If the missions prove too tough, you can restart on an easier setting without losing your progress in the story. Restarting a mission on “easier please” is cumulative, so eventually, you’ll find the right difficulty for you.
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Blackheart is a rather challenging game that brings creative turn-based tactics gameplay with RPG elements to the Neptunia franchise. The story is middle of the road, but the game has fun little moments that make it truly feel like a return to the Neptunia universe, and it translates the RPG genre to turn-based tactics well. Those that don’t enjoy turn-based tactics games likely won’t enjoy this one either, no matter how much they love Neptunia. However, it is a solid turn-based tactics RPG that could be a good introduction for players new to the genre. If you like TBT’s and love the Neptunia franchise, then this is a must play game.
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Blackheart is a rather challenging game. The story is run of the mill, but the game has fun little moments that make it truly feel like a return to the Neptunia universe and it translates the RPG genre to turn-based tactics well. If you like TBT’s and love the Neptunia franchise then this is a must play game.