Most fans of any given franchise will have certain expectations when picking up a sequel. They’ll want the same gameplay, mechanics and characters that they’ve grown to love with a fresh story, and perhaps a dash of something new. Megadimension Neptunia VII delivers exactly that as the latest installment in the Neptunia main story. Fans of the games aren’t likely to be disappointed when the game is released for North American players on February 2nd from Compile Heart and Idea Factory.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory came to Western audiences for PS3 in 2013 with spin-offs and remakes leading up to the release of Megadimension Neptunia VII, the first of the series to be available on PS4. Anyone who’s played a Neptunia game can tell you that they’re long games with complicated storylines and classic JRPG twists. So, until this reviewer can play the game to completion, here are some first impressions and an early look at Megadimension Neptunia VII before its official release.
Last time we visited Gamindustri in the main Neptunia story, the Seven Sages were defeated and everyone was restored to their proper dimension. In Megadimension, our beloved CPUs are in the midst of a “Shift Period” in which nasty rumors about the goddesses are spreading throughout the Internet and casting uncertainty onto their respective nations. As always, there are a lot of references and meta-humor about the state of the gaming industry and its major players, past and present.
In Megadimension Neptunia VII, the game is split into three chapters, each with their own story and world that fits into the overarching plot. Ditsy and loveable protagonist Neptune will travel to different dimensions, make new friends and battle familiar enemies. Nearly all of the cast of characters from previous games make an appearance in Megadimension with the various CPUs and CPU Candidates all being playable characters at one point or another.
Arfoire and Warechu are frequently seen baddies with some new villains joining the plot against Neptune and her world. New characters joining the Gamindustri mix include Uzume Tennouboshi/CPU Orange Heart from the Zero Dimension (Guess what console of the past she represents). The Gold Third is also introduced and is composed of B-Sha, C-Sha, S-Sha and K-Sha (All representing a different video game company) that is attempting to overtake the current nations.
The story in the latest title is pretty good, filled with interesting characters, a plethora of self-aware humor and a large dose of mystery. It’s fun to puzzle out the references to the real life game industry that are being made in the fictional Gamindustri universe. Fleshed out with many cut-scenes, Megadimension can start feeling like a visual-novel with turn-based combat inserted, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on your preference. The voice acting is great, but the sheer amount of story content means not all the scenes will be voice acted and players will be reading through a lot of text boxes.
Although there are a lot of familiar elements from previous Neptunia games, there are some changes to this newest entry in the series. The biggest of these is to the combat system. This new battle system will feel familiar yet slightly off as combos are handled differently and there’s more emphasis on positioning characters.
Players will likely have a mixed response to the new combat system. Personally I don’t think it’s better or worse than previously versions, just different. The emphasis on positioning adds another element of strategy that can be rewarding and fun.
There are also some changes to the goddesses transformation forms. In addition to the traditional HDD transformation forms of the goddess characters there is a “Next Form”. This additional form comes with changes in combat style that adds some variety to battles. There’s a new type of boss battle to master as well called “Giant Battles” which changes things up and highlights special formation attacks.
The many elements of the game are slowly introduced to players. This makes it easier for new players to learn the game (a complaint Sony representative Noire makes of past titles). However, it can be a little tedious for veterans of the franchise to wait for their favorite features to get introduced.
Megadimension Neptunia VII brings great music and art that players have come to expect from the series. There’s a decent helping of fan-service that along with some language gets the game a well deserved Teen rating from the ESRB. So far, the game has been a blast, full of laughs and classic turn-based combat that far outweighs any of it’s little annoyances. Stay tuned for a full review of Megadimension Neptunia VII sometime after its release on February 2nd.
Megadimension Neptunia VII was played on PlayStation 4 with a copy that was obtained from the publisher.