Neptune steps aside from her main character role, with Noire stepping into the front. After an incident in Gamarket robbing all the CPU characters of their powers, all the characters must join forces in order to get to the bottom of it, unifying the land in the process. Unfortunately, it’s the plot and characters that put a serious dampener on the game’s quality.
As with the main series, Hyperdevotion parodies a lot of elements from video games. Whether it be in your face references to your standard video game tropes to people in your party that resemble other game characters. And while it amusing having a female spy go under a cardboard box as you active her special attack, with a better writer and dialogue maybe this could actually be more amusing than it is.
As this time around the game is an SRPG, then there’s no longer wandering the field, instead it’s all done through the main hub. The standard options are all here, with a lot of the elements from previous Neptunia games making a return. This being the ability to create items and discs with the materials obtained on the battlefield. Discs being the most interesting as combining idea chips, then equipping the resulting chips gives the chosen character a boost, whether it be increasing the odds of a critical hit or reducing damage from certain enemies.
Once you’re all set then it’s straight to the mission menu where you can either choose a side or story mission. With the story missions you’re first ‘treated’ to a cut scene which while nice looking, the 2D art is bright and vibrant with slight movement given to each character, the words coming out of their mouths are at times excruciating. Video game references about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face and whiny pre-teen sounding voices are quite painful to listen to. They may have been bearable if the story was actually interesting, only it isn’t, far from it. Going from one scene to the next barely feels connected, while the main mystery (which is supposed to be the hook) couldn’t muster any enthusiasm from me at all. Make it past these parts (or skip them if you can’t take it anymore) then you’re onto the actual fighting, which is where the game actually starts to impress.
Standard SRPG rules apply, you move your characters around the battlefield followed by your opponents, watching out for hazards along the way. These hazards can be everything from electrified floors to conveyer belts that send your characters into another hazard. There’s a lot of tactical nuance needed to progress in the game, attacking enemies from behind does more damage, with the same rule applying to Noire and co, with elevated attacks also being harder hitting. Traversing the maps also comes with just as much of a challenge as beating enemies.
Some characters are able to jump up to ledges higher than others, but for those that can’t there are boxes that can be lifted and thrown into place. Sometimes it’s required, others it provides an alternate path to attack from.
Mission structure itself can also be varied, although the basic hit stuff till they all fall down is the crux, there are varied other objectives that need to be completed, such as collecting a number of items on the battlefield or completing the mission in a set number of moves. With a quick save state it also lends itself far more to pick up and play fun than the mainline RPG series.
There’s a base core here that is great fun, with some really nice chibi looking graphics (including an excellent opening CG cut scene) and plenty of strategy, it’s just a shame that this core is buried deep below half naked anime girls and an awful story. Something I’m pretty sure I’ve said about every Idea Factory developed game I’ve ever reviewed. Maybe I’m not the right audience for it, but scenes of heads being buried into breasts and the Solid Snake-a-like character sneaking into the shower to peak aren’t my cup of tea. Maybe they would be if there was actual humour involved, or wit, or good writing/acting. None of these apply though, sadly.
That aside, from a gameplay perspective it’s a decent first foray into the world of SRPG’s, it’s just bogged down by poor characters and story.