Hyperdimenion Neptunia was always a quirky series since its debut on the PS3. Its comical nature with references to the game industry is what set it apart from the competition. Megadimension Neptunia VII is an improvement in almost every area while at the same time opening up the series to newcomers.
For probably the first time in a Neptunia game the story has a much darker, poignant atmosphere filled with a dash of mystery. After digging up a mysterious old console Neptune and Nepgear get (unsurprisingly) sucked into a different dimension.
This time however, they end up in a desolate city at the brink of destruction. After a little searching they encounter the spunky cool Uzume Tennouboshi, the CPU goddess of this place. This world is under constant attack by a mysterious being known as Dark Purple and it is up to Uzume to stop it, all while Neptune and Nepgear seek a way back home.
It has been a long time coming, but finally people who are fans of the Dreamcast will be spoiled rotten with this installment. Uzume is modeled after the Sega Dreamcast. She wears stylish orange clothes, has a VMU at her wrist and uses a megaphone as her weapon of choice.
Even though the story is darker, it is not void of humor. Expect everything from the obligatory video game references to meta jokes which break the fourth wall. It’s hard not to laugh out hard at the humor here. For example, Uzume is fixated on being cool just like Sega was at the time and she is accompanied by her trusty sidekick Umio who is a take on the fascinating but eerie Seaman.
The story is surprisingly well thought out, especially for a Hyperdimension Neptunia title. This is particularly important considering that a huge part of the game is in fact the story segments and numerous comedy skits.
The game is absolutely huge, in both duration and scale. Megadimension Neptunia VII is actually made up of three individual segments. Zero Dimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU is the first chapter and focuses on Uzume’s battle and Neptune’s and Nepgear’s dimensional hopping. Hyper Dimension Neptunia G: The Golden Leaders, Reconstructors of Gamindustri lets you pick one of the CPUs and have them retake back their land from a group known as the Gold Third. The final chapter, Heart Dimension Neptunia H: Trilogy Finale: Into Legend, has the events of the previous two chapters converge in an epic finale.
All the game’s cutscenes are presented in a visual novel style, but this doesn’t mean that they are static. The game uses motion portraits in order to bring the characters to life. They blink, are fully lip synced and their hair, clothes and body move realistically as they breathe. All this is done in such a subtle manner that it just looks absolutely amazing.
What makes Megadimension Neptunia VII such a great title is that it doesn’t make any assumptions that you have played the previous installments. All characters are introduced when they first appear and the game tries not to overwhelm new players with too much at once. This is not to say that the game forgoes pandering its fans – there is a ton of that here too.
From a gameplay perspective Megadimension Neptunia VII is a compilation of all the best elements of the previous Compile Heart games. Battles are very short, usually lasting only a handful of seconds, even when not skipping battle animations. And if that is not short enough for you, you can naturally just bypass enemies in dungeons altogether. Some segments of the game seem a bit more challenging than before. You won’t need to grind for hours, but you will have to always look out for the best gear in shops and keep your party fully healed, since it’s easy to get caught outnumbered, especially in new areas.
The bosses are a tough cookie this time around. Just circling around the boss to have as little casualties as possible is no longer an effective strategy, since the bosses now move around in order to do as much damage as possible.
The highlight of the show must be the new giant battles against dark CPU’s. The scale of these battles is unlike anything seen in Neptunia games before. Here your team goes up against an enemy so humongous that it floats in the distance, while your team scatters around it on hovering islands. You can only use special attacks during these battles. Thankfully however, all your allies are in HDD mode and recover a portion of their SP gauge automatically at the start of a turn.
The level design has taken a nice step up since the previous games. You no longer walk in a linear path, but now levels branch, have shortcuts and are even multi leveled. There are treasure chests scattered throughout the levels. You will only be able to get a handful of them on your first time, with the rest requiring a special item or skill.
The world map has you walking across the nodes to get from one place to another. As you progress through the game you will have to build your own routes to access new areas. Once you reach the second chapter the game opens up and introduces things such as acquiring shares, investment in the areas of commerce, industry and public relations, guild quests, scouts and disc development.
The graphics may not be on par with other PlayStation 4 games, but are definitely a step up in every aspect over the previous Compile Heart games. The ultra-crisp 1080p visuals, smooth frame rate and stylish interface makes this series look better than ever. What the game may lack in technical achievement it definitely makes up in creativity. Enemies come in all of shapes and sizes from the classic slimes, space invaders, and Mario pipes, to floating visual novel screens. Expect a variety of levels here, from rundown cities, cheery tree filled parks, to huge gaming arcades and grandiose arenas.
Megadimension Neptunia VII has a pretty rad soundtrack, with over 60 songs. Some of the classic tunes make a return, but there are a lot of cool yet foreboding electric techno songs, perfect for the somewhat depressive Zero Dimension part of the game.
Like always both the Japanese and English voices are superb. However, if you opt to stick with the English voices some less important cutscenes won’t have dialog. It might be worth to note that both the physical and digital editions of the game only contain English dubs. If you wish to use the Japanese voice option you will have to download a 1.2GB free add-on.
Speaking of add-ons, Megadimension Neptunia VII has a fair share of these, including a number of free weapons for the Colosseum and a higher level cap. These aside, the game has a variety of paid DLC such as different character costumes, weapons, equipment and scouts. Fortunately, none of them are actually required to enjoy the game and end up being little more than cosmetic changes.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Megadimension Neptunia VII is among the best Compile Heart games to date. It might not innovative too much, but what it does it does flawlessly. Longtime fans shouldn’t miss out on this one, while newcomers literally haven’t got a better entry point to the series.