First things first, we never played the original Hyperdimension Neptunia in which Re;Birth is a remake of, so we’re coming at this with a fresh perspective. And if this is said to improve elements from the original, it’s not a series we’re that keen to delve into. Of course, there’s some stuff to like, but much like Mugen Souls Z, another Compile Heart game we reviewed a few months back, it’s buried beneath layers and layers of awfulness.
A lot of the plot aims to poke fun, or maybe parody, the games industry. The world you inhabit is called Gameindustri and revolves around goddesses battling it out in The Console War. The game is full of nods and winks to various gaming terms, that with actual writers could’ve been funny, but instead they’re almost painful
The voice acting is like nails on a chalkboard. The game consisting of young, whiny girls that just ramble on incessantly about nothing. And that’s really what the plot is like, characters will go on and on about something that doesn’t even matter. Five minute cut scenes could be wrapped up in five seconds if they cut all the chaff. It could be said this is what the anime audience wants, but having watched an awful lot of high quality anime lately, this would do the medium a huge disservice.
But again, like Mugen Souls Z there’s a solid gameplay idea at the bottom of all this. The actual turn based combat is perfectly fine. A party of three, at the start of each turn you can move your character around the battlefield (within the moveable circle), getting into position to attack or in a defensive position if you choose to heal. It adds a nice positional tactic to proceedings. Standard attacks are combined into various types, for instance using the X button will initiate a guard break, whereas the square button is for strong physical attacks. Combining these making combos. Of course, the usual JRPG like skills are all present and accounted for. The combat is certainly not the problem with the gameplay, it’s the grinding.
In one of the early areas you find yourself in you will breeze past the enemies, only to come across a boss fight and bam, destroyed in one hit. The progression seems incredibly off with large sections of ease soon met with an enormous difficulty spike. Each big encounter feels like it needs a couple of hours grinding time, making the game incredibly repetitive. And why really bother when there’s no hook?
For people who are actually fans of the series, then Compile Heart deserve some credit for not just creating a quick cash grab and adding a number of elements that were introduced to the series later on. This includes the likes of music, battle system and even the plot which has been given an overhaul. The most interesting however being the remake system, which by collecting plans you’re able to alter the dungeons by adding harder enemies, changing the items and more.
Graphically the game is perfectly fine also. It looks nice on the Vita, worlds are bright and colourful, and the 2D characters pop out (and not just their breasts! Boom!) during the cut scenes. Musically it’s not bad either, in fact, technically it’s all rather impressive, making it even more infuriating as to how it’s all turned out.
The main issue then with Neptunia Re;Birth is not the underlying imagery of young anime girls showing their assets, it’s that it’s all so dull. The plot line is pointless, voice acting excruciating and features an unnecessary amount of grinding. The only saving grace coming in the form of the combat, which contains a number of neat ideas that hopefully one day will find its way into a better game.