Megadimension Neptunia VII PC Impressions - Dreamy

Published: July 25, 2016 9:00 AM /

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Megadimension Neptunia VII

Idea Factory and Compile Heart recently delivered the latest mainline series game in the Neptunia series to Steam two weeks ago, Megadimension Neptunia VII, originally from the PS4.  Before now, a majority of Idea Factory game ports to Steam have originated on PlayStation Vita, except Fairy Fencer F, which was originally a PS3 title and saw a PS4 update as Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force.  Naturally, with every port that was initially released on consoles and then ported to PC, the burning question is "Is this a good port or not?" and this article will aim to answer that question for you based on my personal experiences with the game. 

Megadimension Neptunia VII continues where Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3 V Century left off, continuing the stories of the four console personifying goddess CPUs: Neptune, Noire, Vert and Blanc, as they enter an unstable period of their rule where false rumors and slander abound.  It turns out the ever present main character Neptune and her sister Nepgear get sucked into another world called the Zero Dimension during this tumultuous period. 

To their shock, this world is on the verge of apocalypse.  Within, they meet a lone, tomboyish and style obsessed goddess named Uzume Tennouboshi waging a war against a giant bent on finishing the job, doing her best to look cool while doing so.  Despite this, it seems Uzume is prone to girlish daydreams, something she has to be frequently reminded of.  Neptune and Nepgear have to fight alongside Uzume against this giant as they figure out how to get home.

It takes fortitude to daydream like this during the apocalypse.

This is but the first of the three major story segments of Megadimension Neptunia VII. Once you conquer the Zero Dimension, you are taken back to the series' eponymous Hyper Dimension, where the Neptunia series canon has revolved around since mk2/Re;Birth2.  The CPUs troubles only intensify when a group of game company personifying characters called the Gold Third show up and defeat the CPUs on their turf.  This kicks off the second major arc in the game.  This time, you are offered a choice on which of the four goddesses you want to focus on, and in which order you can do so, adding a refreshing change of pace.  Once you wrap up matters in Hyper Dimension, the third story kicks off in Heart Dimension.  From there, other choices await you, but perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.

As with other entries in the Neptunia series, multiple endings and a New Game+ mode are available.  Once you scope out one ending, you can try for another, adding a small amount of replayability to VII.

Megadimension Neptunia VII continues to implement a somewhat strategic, turn-based, freely positional combat system where each character chains different types of attacks together to damage your foes that have mostly existed since Victory and featured throughout the Re;Birth remakes until it was slightly remixed in Re;Birth 3 V CenturyVII brings its own set of remixes to the combat system.  Originally, attacks were separated into Rush, Power, and Break.  Now, Break has been replaced with "Standard", which is a mix of Power and Rush, as the Guard gauge (and "Guard Break status) has been done away with.  Each type of attack has a different effect on the EXE gauge.

The combo system in VII has received a small change up.  Where you normally were able to add attacks to a combo for as much Combo Points you had per character, your character's weapon now determines the number of combo slots she gets, as well as the amount of each type of attack.  The weapon will also determine if the initial attack when starting your combo is considered either Power, Standard, or Rush.  Also added are "combo traits" where if a prerequisite is met for each attack technique in a combo, that attack hits critical.  Combo Traits are a major source of damage for regular attacks, so proper combo setup is vital for fluid progress.  When normal attacks don't cut it, you get special attacks that take SP to execute, but they are powerful assets that can turn the tide of a battle.

The EXE gauge has been remixed in Megadimension Neptunia VII.  Instead of solely enabling post combo techniques and powerful EXE Drives, it can now be spent by having a character transform into their goddess form or by using formation attacks.  Formation attacks are executed by positioning the participants of the attack, ranging from two to four, in specific formations.  The EXE gauge is also not saved between battles, but instead, fills significantly faster. This helps add to the pace of combat and lessen the grind that was present in previous titles, where filling the EXE gauge was vital to do before going deeper into a dungeon.

Formation skills are, as implied, skills executed when in proper formation with the requisite characters.  Formation skills use the EXE gauge.

Also added is "Part Break," which allows you to break parts an enemy has be attacking from the relevant direction often enough.  Breaking a part will lower an enemy's stats and disable certain special attacks.  Formation attacks can be used to do massive damage to parts in one go, but this approach won't always work.

Also added are Next Forms for each of the four main goddesses.  Representing the newest generation of home consoles, these forms further boost the power of each goddess.

Blanc's looking good in her Next Form. This shot also illustrates the overall better graphics and effects Neptunia VII has.

Finally, "Giant battles" round out the new feature list in VII, where you fight enemies that are significantly larger in some form to the average Neptunia boss (in general).  Giant Battles are fought using only Skills and Formation attacks.  To enable these kinds of fights to happen, SP is restored upon each character's turn.  Proper use of attack, buffing, and defense skills will determine the tide of battle quickly here.

Giant Battles are fought using only special skills and have different movement rules than normal battles. Naturally, your enemy can attack larger swaths too.

The battle system feels significantly improved over previous entries in the series.  It feels a lot more fun, though there are still improvements to be made.  Small boosts in character stats also seem to make a larger difference than previously, though this also means grinding for one or two levels takes just as long as one would expect, especially earlier in the game, where enemies still pose a noticeable threat to you.  Overall, the battle system feels relatively balanced but still frustrating at times.

Megadimension Neptunia VII rounds out its new features with some new additions to the world map.  Instead of selecting a point and then confirming you want to enter it, you now guide your character to their destination along paths with nodes.  On each node, a random enemy encounter may occur.  Shares, which are a central part of Neptunia lore, actually serve as a minor resource in VII, which is gained by completing side quests.  The goddess with the most shares gains an advantage in battle.  Shares are used when transforming or taking damage, so persistent completion of Quests will be necessary to maintain the combat buff.  While transforming can be done with no shares, it is often a good idea to keep them up to enable the Top Share buff.

Next Forms add to the power of the four CPUs. Transforming takes Shares to do, but the goddess with the top amount, indicated by the crown next to their portrait, gains an advantage in battle.

Dungeons, for the most part, play the same as they did during the Re;Birth remakes.  Enemy symbols roam each dungeon, and battle commences upon contact with one.  A Symbol Attack can allow you to start a battle with all your characters going first, or the enemies can all go first if they contact your character from behind or encounter you during null points in the symbol attack animation.  Added are destructible objects, which is a system enabled by the creation of a Power Bracelet.  Destructible objects may yield random items.

Graphics are vastly improved over previous series entries.  Colors are more vibrant, effects are more lively and better overall, and character models look better than ever.  Also improved were several character animations, which has usually been a weak point in Neptunia games, though some new attacks do contain lackluster animation.  Visual Novel style cutscene art is better than ever, and each character has been given several new poses.

What's New: Character artwork and additional cutscene poses. What's not new: Noire lying through her teeth about being lonely.

But enough about the game, how about that port?  On an AMD FX8350, 8 GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon 7870 running on Windows 10 Pro booted on an SSD with Megadimension Neptunia VII itself ran off a large volume HDD. It ran almost exclusively at 60 frames per second on borderless windowed with a few loading stutters now and then.  There was some noticeable stuttering during visual novel cutscenes when characters would change poses, or when scenes changed.  Various users on the Steam forums have reported crashes in some areas, though I have yet to experience any of these. 

A patch was recently introduced on Tuesday, July 19th, aimed at improving stability.  For me, this appeared to add load stutter when highlighting dungeons at the world map and a bit extended load time during overworld random encounters.  However, my experience has remained relatively stable.  Megadimension Neptunia VII works well with both keyboard controls and gamepad controls.

A special note is that certain gamepads, particularly the Xbox One controller, may initially be unable to navigate menus.  This is due to how the Xbox One controller drivers handle Z axis controls on Right Trigger.  The default and assumed control for Right Trigger and similar buttons is negative Z axis; default Windows 10 drivers for the Xbox One controller set Right Trigger to positive Z rotation.  Thankfully, even when set to use a gamepad, you can still use a mouse navigate the options menu to correct this by navigating to key bindings, finding Right Trigger, and pressing Right Trigger to reset the setting to the appropriate Z axis setting if you happen to be affected.

For those interested in getting more Nep for their dollar, Idea Factory International also offers a Digital Deluxe edition, which contains a digital artbook and OST with selections from VII's soundtrack, alongside DLC bundles containing all paid DLC that add up to five new characters and various equipment and costume sets.  Megadimension Neptunia VII already includes a bevy of free DLC with the initial game download, including Japanese voice tracks.

Ultimately, if you are a Neptunia fan, or are looking for a fairly rounded JRPG that performs respectably well on PC, Megadimension Neptunia VII can be your ticket.  Though portions may be frustrating, the overall experience is something I've found to be enjoyable.  Some users have reported consistent issues, but to date, this has been the most stable port of an Idea Factory/Compile Heart title I've seen.

Megadimension Neptunia VII was tested for twenty hours on PC via Steam with a key provided by the publisher.  You can also grab it on PlayStation 4.

[Update:  An earlier version of this article stated that the game erroneously set Right Trigger to not handle Z rotation, causing the inability to navigate menus.  Upon further research and the presence of a Right Trigger related problem in other games with the Xbox One controller, the article has been corrected to state that Windows 10 Xbox One controller drivers have changed Right Trigger to affect Z rotation instead of negative Z axis control, unlike other controller drivers, which appears to cause the problems with Right Trigger.  The fault lies with the drivers, not the initial game settings.]

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