Megadimension Neptunia Victory II Review:A Neptastic Adventure
Megadimension Neptunia Victory II
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
ESRB Rating: T
Thank you Idea Factory for providing a review copy.
Megadimension Neptunia Victory II is the latest installment in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, and is the first mainline installment in the series in about three years. It is also the first entry in the series to make its way to PlayStation 4. So, for the first mainline game to be made in about three years the question that has to be asked now is: did the extensive development time turn out a good product? The short answer to the question is yes. However, there is more to this review than a simple yes or no. So let’s nep things up and dive into this game.
One interesting thing that first comes to mind about this game is that it is not, in fact, one game. Megadimension Neptunia is actually divided into three separate games (well they are really story arcs, but the game calls them games).
Each one has their own individual story, gameplay mechanics and characters, with each game having a plot that contributes to the games overall plot. So the best way to put it is that there is one major plot that goes across all three games, with three equally big subplots, one for each game. Each of the three games’ stories are different enough to the point where the game doesn’t start to ever feel like its dragging on.
The story for this game is probably one of the biggest highlights of the game. Like I stated before, each of the three “games” have their own unique story. The game has you start in the Zero Dimension where Neptune and Nepgear are once again transported to a strange dimension. There you meet up with this world’s CPU and must help her fight in her crusade against a giant monster terrorizing the world.
From that story return to the Hyperdimension, here is where you get a chance to play four different story arcs staring each one of Gamindustri’s CPU’s.
The story behind this one is the CPU’s (Neptune, Blanc, Vert and Noire) are having issues with slanderous rumors. So, to restore the people’s faith in them they host a festival across all of Gamindustri. However, something goes amiss during the festival as a strange organization challenges them to a fight, the CPU’s are easily defeated and a major event follows suit right after changing all of Gamindustri. The CPU’s find themselves scattered around Gamindustri, and must make it back to their respective nations, however, upon arrival they find out that one member of the organization known as Gold Third is ruling over a different nation.
This is where you take on the role as one of the four CPU’s and find a way to get to the bottom of what happened. The third arc of this game acts as a bit of a bridge bringing both plots of the game together shedding light on the overall plot of the entire game.
Each one of these “games” has a play time of between 12-20 hours depending on what you are doing. Their stories are extremely well written, and are filled to the brim with humor and wit. The best part of the story were the games characters. The new CPU in the Zero Dimension, Uzume, and her assistant Umio are probably my two new favorite characters in the series.
Each member of Gold Third that you have to work with in the second game makes each of the CPU character arcs extremely unique in their own right. Not once during the games story did I ever feel dread of things getting repetitive like I did in previous Neptunia games. The story flowed extremely well for the most part. However, I will say the start of the second game felt like it was a bit forced to lead into the following events. Another slight issue I have is that in the second game you can’t exit a CPU’s character midway through to try another, so you were locked in with who you picked till the very end. Granted, I never wanted to back out at any time, but it may be an issue for people who want to change things up halfway through.
One more small thing on the game’s writing, as I can’t express how much I am in love with it. The jokes the game sets up are extremely funny and well written. Nothing feels extremely forced to the punchline. The game takes time to take jabs at other games, their own previous games and the entire gaming industry as a whole.
In my opinion, the Neptunia series has finally perfected the parody they were going for. There were many times where I had to pause the game because I could not stop laughing at some of the lines or events in the game. There were also times in the story where the game took a sudden dark turn for a brief moment, and the first thing on my mind was, “that was nepped up!” If this game was just a visual novel I would have still bought it. Thankfully though, it’s not, as the writing is just one part of what makes this game the pinnacle of the Neptunia series.
Megadimension Neptunia is a turn based JRPG that has you exploring several different dungeons throughout the overworld of Gamindustri. The dungeons in this game are very unique with many different designs that all stick out individually. From exploring the Super Mario 3D esque World to running through giant subway terminals, the variety in dungeons is astounding.
Granted, there are quite a few repeat dungeons from the previous game, but since this does take place in the same world it makes a bit of sense. They do take a nice amount of time having you go through new dungeons before having you trek through old ones from previous games. The best thing about the older dungeons is the fact that a lot of them aren’t even forced on you. You unlock them through the games scouting system (which I’ll get into later), and are good dungeons for questing. In each dungeon you will find a wide variety of different monsters.
Each one is humorously designed and have their own little bit of life. They are a bit randomly generated throughout the dungeon, and their AI is very easy to manipulate so you can easily run through a room of enemies without a single one noticing you. However, you may want to use this to your advantage to get the first strike in battle.
Once you enter battle you are transported into an arena that is based on the current dungeon you are in. You fight in a turn based environment, with the traditional Neptunia fighting combat that relies on combos based on different attack options. Certain combos do more damage, but other combos will build up your exe meter faster to use more powerful skills. The more combos you perform, the better your end of the round bonus will be. Furthermore, different weapons have different ranges of effect, so there is a large variety of different play styles you can go for. It’s always cool to get the best weapon that can attack as many enemies at one time.
It’s better to use exe skills than it is using normal SP based skills, as you can refill your exe meter during battle by performing a long string of combos. In boss fights I would heavily rely on exe moves to make quick work of the bosses. However, the more powerful exe moves required certain teammates to be out on the field, in a certain formation around the enemy, and for the characters to be in certain modes, normal or HDD. This provided a bit of strategy to harder fights, as I always tried my best to surround the enemy without being completely in harm’s way. This is important because enemies can perform the same type of actions as you. Like your Neps, they can use powerful skills that can cause high amounts of damage, and their attacks have different ranges. The combat feels nice and fluid, and there is nothing more satisfying seeing Neptune “nep up” her enemies in a long streak of combos. Each attack you land feels like there’s a huge punch behind it. The best part about the combat is that they removed the break mechanic from previous Neptune games, no longer do you have to break through an enemy’s defense. You can just start chipping away at them. Granted, some boss enemies will have armor that needs to be broken with high damage attacks, but for most enemy encounters you can just have at the enemies.
I should probably take this time to mention that in this game they added a new form for the CPU’s. In the Neptunia series when the CPU’s were about to get into a tough battle they would transform into their HDD goddess forms. These forms are very powerful and normally got the job done. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, this would not be the case this time around. Enter their next dimension forms. These are even more powerful forms of their previous selves based on their respective home console. (Blanc’s new design is based off the Wii U, Noire’s is the PS4 and Vert’s is the XBO)
These new designs are extremely elegant and offer a wide range of powerful new attacks. They have attacks that are so powerful, they can deplete a boss’s health down to half. However, those moves will make them revert back to their base form. So it puts the player in a risk versus reward system, weighing the option of using these powerful attacks but turning back to their base form and having to rebuild up your exe meter to transform again.
Now, the next thing to talk about is the wide range of things this game has for you to do. Have you wanted to command an army of scouts to survey the vast world for you? Well you can do that. Have you wanted to make your own video game for the entire world to play? Well you can kind of do that. Have you wanted to have a hands-on approach with what your nation does with their money? Well, you can do that too but it’s your own money. The game has a vast amount of things you can do between story progression.
In the game you can unlock scouts, you send these scouts out to survey different dungeons that you have visited. These scouts will survey the dungeons in real time, so it’s always best to go out and send them off between doing missions, or whenever you’re back at your character’s home town.
These scouts can uncover hints on how to unlock hidden treasures in each dungeon, or find secret and powerful monsters to fight, or even find more dungeons to explore. They can also find more scouts to add to your army to scout around. Also, each scout will add different effects to the dungeons you are exploring. Some positive, some negative. These effects can range from more experience and cash flow in a dungeon to having more powerful enemies spawn in place of the regular ones. They can really mix up the flow of a dungeon. I always eagerly awaited to see what my scouts would find for me each time they returned.
Now, a staple gameplay mechanic of the Neptunia series is maintaining your nations share energy. Since this series is also a parody of the console wars, each of the four nations are fighting to have the most shares around the world. These shares allow your characters to enter into HDD mode and become more powerful. The more often you use these modes, the faster they deplete your shares. You can increase shares in one of two ways: by doing side quests at the guild, or by investing money into your nation’s PR. I got the bulk of my shares from through investing.
Investing the credits you earn from side quests and battle into PR is definitely worth it, as you can get a lot of rare items this way. You can also invest your stocks into research and development which allows you construct better items to use in battle. To craft these items you have to use the items you find defeating monsters in dungeons. You can also invest money into marketing to increase what kind of items your nation’s store sells to you. However, for most of the game I didn’t invest too much into marketing or development and focused mainly on PR. It’s good that the games lets you decide how you want to use your credits to best customize your gameplay experience.
The last thing you can do is develop video games. While normally video game development can cost millions of dollars and take up several years, you can make your own games here with a small amount of credits, and “gameplay materials” that you loot off of monsters.
The whole purpose of this is to construct good games that have passive effects on your character like SP and HP regeneration at the end of every turn and having certain buffs and defenses against certain types of enemies. While the interface to make games is a tad confusing, once you get the hang of it you will be a master developer in no time making the best games possible to power up your CPUs.
The game also offers a vast amount of challenges that you can perform while exploring dungeons. These challenges range from having a certain character as the leader for a certain amount of time, to jumping over one thousand times. Doing these challenges will allow you to increase the lead character’s stats, so it’s a great way to encourage character variety when exploring dungeons.
They are also incorporated very seamlessly to the point you will get a notification for completing a challenge in the middle of a long grind fest for quests or shares, when I got these I couldn’t help but feel like I accomplished something despite doing something so mundane.
Now, another important thing I want to talk about with this game is its overall performance. The game runs at full 1080p and runs at 60fps for the most part. The game keeps a consistent frame rate when exploring dungeons, however, I noticed that it can take a bit of a dip depending on what you are doing on screen, most notably this happened in the very first dungeon where I couldn’t help but jump around everywhere. However, graphically this is the best looking game in the series to date. The sprites are extremely crisp, and the 3D rendered cut scenes look extremely natural when they are used.
This game also yields a lot of replay value as well. When you complete the game, you can choose whatever you want to carry over to your NG+ run of the game. Odds are if you’re like me you missed the true ending on your first run, and you discovered so many new dungeons you never had a chance to explore. New Game+ adds a second breath of life into this game after you complete it, you can’t help but just play through it again.
I guess before I conclude this review I should mention the fan service, after all it wouldn’t be a Neptunia game without it. There is a lot of fanservice in this game, and I am not a person who is normally big on fan service, that being said, I never felt like the game was overbearing with it, I felt like it was used at the appropriate times, and it was never completely forced.
Some of it was even humorous. Not once did I think anything this game did was in bad taste. So, for people like me who aren’t too big on fan service, don’t worry it won’t take away from your overall enjoyment of the game.
Megadimension Neptunia Victory II is the best game in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series to date. While the game may suffer from difficulty spikes if you fail to grind properly in the dungeons, and some misdirection if you’re not paying attention to the game’s patterns, I can easily recommend this game to any and all PS4 owners who are JRPG fans, or people who never really got into Neptunia and wanted to give it another go. The writing in this game is top notch (I tried so hard to not type Top Nep), the story is very engaging and the game’s combat is extremely fun and rewarding. If you were on the fence about this game I can’t recommend this game enough to scratch your JRPG itch on the PS4.
+Great Story telling
+So Much to do
-Difficulty Spikes if you’re not ready