Following a battle in Celestia, Neptune has fallen to the ground and lost her memory! Will she be able to regain it, or will everything go horribly wrong?
It feels like this has been a long time coming. I originally bought Hyperdimension Neptunia a couple years ago but never finished it. Then Re;Birth1 came out, and after a fair bit of time I finally got it on Steam. Now, a couple months later, I’ve finally finished it. Which of course means that I really wish I had done this sooner!
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is a remake of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia game using the system from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. You follow Neptune as she travels across GameIndustri to find the Key Fragments and free the mysterious Histoire. Along the way she’ll meet new friends, a rival or two, and all of the CPUs – the leaders of each nation.
One of the biggest draws in Hyperdimension Neptunia to me is all of the references. The game, and really the series in general, is full of them. Lines will often be referencing some game or another, and in some cases you’ll even start thinking, “Is this a reference or not?” I’m not sure how much I fangirled over recognizing the Steins;Gate references, but they were definitely there and they definitely made me quite happy.
The story is generally pretty good, and at least compared to what I played of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia, is really well paced. You are introduced to the main villain of the game very early on, something I always find a bit refreshing. The lands are a reference to the various game console – you have Lastation for PlayStation, Leanbox for XBox, and Lowee for Wii. The stories within each will often pull more references from their respective console, such as very blatant Pokemon references happening in Lowee.
The battle system is another piece of the game that is absolutely fantastic… especially if you compare it to the battle system in the original Hyperdimension Neptunia. The battle system went from being a mess to understand to actually being really enjoyable. Having previously played Re;Birth3 (although I was unable to finish it due to my save corrupting), I had a general idea of what was going on. While it wasn’t quite as refined as it was in Re;Birth3, I didn’t really expect it to be. One major notable difference though – Re;Birth1 is hard at the start. Really hard. You’ll likely have to do a lot of work to get through the first couple chapters. Later on it does start to ease up some at least, but the start is pretty difficult.
In combat you’ll have a few options for what to do. You can use skills that will do a fair bit of damage, or they can also help buff or heal you up. Then there’s EXE Drives which I’ll talk about shortly. The CPUs – IE Neptune, Noire, Vert, Blanc – can transform into their HDD (Hard Drive Divinity) form at the cost of 20% of their max SP. Items will likely be one of your primary healing sources, although they can also help provide some useful stat buffs. Finally, there’s the combo system.
The combo system has you setting up a string of attacks to execute from the three types. Rush attacks are good to help build up your EXE drive, though I tended to use these the least. Power attacks prove to be extremely useful at help to smash into your foes. Break attacks prove to be quite useful at breaking the guard of your foes, and once broken you can deal out even more damage! While I typically was just using Power attacks, I did use Break attacks when I needed to work down my the guard of my enemies.
And then there’s the EXE Drives. Once you finally get access to these, the game becomes a whole lot easier. EXE Drives are extremely powerful attacks that you can use once the gauge about your attack menu has filled to 1 or higher. Filling it to this point also lets you use combo finishers which also help do more damage when you’re just trying to use regular attacks. The main benefit out of the EXE Drive is definitely the unique skills though. Each character has their own skills they can use through this, sometimes having pair up skills that you’ll need specific formations to do. While they are all pretty powerful, some of them prove to be even more useful as they can help debuff your foes, making the battles easier in general. When you’re up against bosses, you’ll definitely want to use (and abuse) your EXE Drive skills. While not the easiest before you unlock the plan to boost EXE Gauge growth, once you do it becomes a lot easier to abuse them.
Should you get your gauge full enough, you can start pulling off EXE Drive chains. This will pull the next character who is going to take a turn up the list and let them chain on with their own EXE Drive. You can continue this until your gauge runs out or you choose to use something else. Through use of these chains you can really lay the beat down on your enemies and gain the upper hand in what is otherwise a fairly tough game.
The previously mentioned Plans are a part of the Remake system. In certain battles you’ll get a drop known as Memory. This memory will enable you to learn plans that have a variety of effects on the game. These effects will range from changing the items you can find in dungeons to adding more items to the shop lists to even letting you earn more experience in battle! Needless to say, the plans are pretty useful, though you may have to watch it at times on how much memory you use! Should you run out, you can’t learn any more until you get some more memory from whatever will next give it. The plans will also require items to make, often drops from enemies, so these will keep you quite busy. On the flipside though, the fact you will be farming so much to get these helps with leveling up so that you don’t just get demolished by the game.
Say goodbye to the absolute nonsense the original game had to travel between lands! Re;Birth1 adopts the world map system to let you just scroll between them. On this map you’ll be able to easily see where you have an event to view as well as where random NPCs are hanging out to give you items. Within each city you can chat with the locals, sometimes with scenes attached, head to the guild to pick up quests, read up on the CPUs Blog, visit the museum to view unlocked images, and do some shopping. This world map system is far and away much better than the system in the original Hyperdimension Neptunia where you had to wait for the lands to float nearby to even get to them.
With the PC version of Re;Birth1 being a port from Vita, some issues cropped up. The first very notable one if that the game has a love of crashing unless you run it in compatibility mode. Additionally, somehow the lip syncing fell completely off and their lips will be moving long after they’ve actually finished talking, causing conversations to feel a bit slow. There are also numerous places where the text didn’t seem to have received a good word wrapping and it just gets cuts off by the text box. At one point while I was trying to beat chapter 2, I encountered a softlock which forced me to have to reboot the game. I never encountered this issue again at least, but considering it happened after I hadn’t been able to save for a bit it was definitely fairly annoying.
The music in Re;Birth1 is well… You’ll be hearing the same tracks a lot, so I hope you get used to it! While the music isn’t bad, it does start to feel a bit old hearing the same tracks over and over in every dungeon. With that said, I felt like the sound effects were quite good. While the English voice acting wasn’t fantastic – I definitely preferred the voice acting in Re;Birth3 – it wasn’t completely awful. If you don’t like the English track you do at least have the choice of switching over to the Japanese voices.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 definitely does well at what I feel are the general strong points of the series – the combat and the game references. The story generally kept me entertained and the pacing felt quite good. It would have been nice if more of the cutscenes had been voiced though, as a lot of them just aren’t voiced. The PC version does having some serious issues with no sign of them being fixed anytime soon. That said, it is still a game I would recommend to people who love RPGs. With the game being available on both PC and Vita, you should easily be able to find a way to play it so what are you waiting for? Go play it now!
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 (Steam) Review Score
While the various PC issues keep me from giving this version a higher score, the game is still quite fantastic.