It the world of Hyper Dimension, it’s time for the CPU Shift Period. This period brings about a lot of rumours, and they’ll have to get through it and maintain their spots as the rulers of Gamindustri.
In Megadimension Neptunia VII, you once again follow Neptune, the CPU (Console Patron Unit) of Planeptune. The world is in the middle of the Shift Period, a rough time for all of the CPUs as their shares drop from vicious rumours. One day, Neptune finds a mysterious console, and what follows is a crazy, multi-dimensional story. You’ll meet a variety of new characters, including another CPU, a mysterious group named the Gold Third, and a bunch of friendly monsters. Will you be able to solve the mysteries that lie within each dimension?
From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that Megadimension Neptunia VII pulls a lot from the previous Re;Birth titles. The stylings of the world are extremely similar to those of the Re;Birth games, as are the character models. In fact, a good majority of the area layouts are the exact same areas you’ve already been exploring in the past 3 Re;Birth titles. The areas that are new lack much variety as well, and at times are absolutely brutal on the eyes.
Neptune’s leap onto the PS4 shows and yet doesn’t show. All of the areas, and the general “visual novel” style cutscenes, all look extremely smooth and are generally good looking. However, when it comes to the “CGI” styled cutscenes, it almost feels they are a downgrade to the visuals and they almost look like something that should belong on a Vita. The transformation animations don’t seem to suffer this same quality look though, as they look to be about what one would expect on the PS4.
Speaking of transforming, don’t expect to do it much outside of when the game forces you to. Transforming in battle will cause that CPU (or Candidate) to lose some of their nation’s shares. Whoever the share leader is receives a boost, and should all four nations be maxed out, all of the candidates and CPUs receive the boost. However, transforming isn’t the only thing that causes you to lose your shares. Taking damage and dying will also cause you lose them. Fortunately, there are many other ways to completely overpower the battles without needing to constantly rely on transforming.
One true shame about the fact transforming doesn’t prove as useful in this game is that the next level of transformation, Next Form, was added. Next Form is exclusive to the main 4 CPUs – Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert – and gives them an even more powered up version of their HDD form. Unfortunately, I don’t have much experience with actually using Next Form, as I only ever used it the couple times the game forced it, and then once more to get the trophy related to it.
So why is it that I didn’t find transforming all that useful? Well, the first part is that game is generally not that hard. Sure, there’s a few bosses that will give you a true challenge, but outside of those it’s fairly easy to power through. A lot of the core battle system is the same as it has been in the past few games, however there’s a few notable differences.
The first difference is that you can no longer just simply abuse one type of combo to get through battles. Now, the amount of combos you can equip are tied directly to the weapon you have on. Combo abilities are still split between Rush, Power, and Standard, however they now can have special traits, letting you do even more damage depending on how you do your combo line. Some abilities will have no traits, while others can have traits such as all previous attacks being Power/Standard/Rush, just the last attack being one of those three, or not having used certain traits or attacks. The main thing to keep in mind for the abilities that state “all previous attacks were X” is that this includes your INITIAL attack, as this attack is also one of the three types.
While not one of the big notable differences at first, abilities are still extremely strong to use. However, these don’t actually fill your EXE Drive very much (regular attacks do). Your EXE drive serves a few purposes. The first is that it’s how you do your transformations (whether it’s into HDD form, Next Form after HDD, or into the Gold Third’s “Gold” form), with these transformations taking 1 bar. The second is that certain skills on your characters will use your EXE Drive to deliver a devastating attack. Then there’s Coupling Skills, abilities that you and your coupled partner can use should your Lily Rank be high enough. Finally, there’s Formation skills. These abilities, skills that actually prove extremely useful, especially early on, require specific characters, and you need to be positioned in certain ways.
Formation Skills prove a few good uses. The first is that they are quite strong, though I found they tapered off a bit later in the game. Then there’s the fact they can aid in doing Part Breaks. Part Breaking is a new feature to Megadimension Neptunia VII. A lot of enemies – especially bosses – will have parts of them that you can break off to aid in dealing even more damage. Breaking these parts also has the bonus that you can get additional items, credits, and experience at the end of battle.
Another new addition to Megadimension Neptunia VII is the Investment system. By investing, you are able to receive additional items, more scouts (explained later), and get additional development plans and items for sale. While this game doesn’t have the same “Remake” system of the Re;Birth games, the development plans system is extremely similar. So, if you do end up with some spare money, putting it into the Investment system can be a worthwhile effort.
One of the most annoying features in the game is the fact that there are now world map encounters. The vast majority of the enemies you fight in these encounters aren’t even worth killing, and they are annoyingly frequent when you’re trying to get across a good portion of the map. While you can thankfully disable them when you play New Game+, this still means that you have to do an entire first playthrough while they are present. Needless to say, these world map encounters annoyed me, and will likely annoy a lot of people.
The scout system in Megadimension Neptunia VII is an extremely hit and miss affair. On one hand, scouts can help with discovering a wide variety of dungeons, and can also help bring in materials for use in development. However, you can only get your reports from scouts when you’re in the same dimension as them, and the notification sound for them returning is extremely annoying. Unfortunately, you can only disable notifications in cutscenes, and depending on where they are deployed to, they’ll be coming back every 8-30 minutes. Since you need to go through several encounter areas to get the reports from scouts in each dimension, by the time you do your full rounds, the first set are likely to have already returned. So while the Scouts are a fairly good idea (and are a partial return from the previous Re;Birth games), managing them can turn into a bit of a nightmare.
To wrap this up, some other systems returning are quests and hidden treasures. To find hidden treasures, you need to first have a scout discover the requirement for the treasure, and then you need to go fulfill the requirement before you can actually find it. These requirements vary in difficulty, from a simple complete X battles, to needing to do more complicated stuff such as get a Symbol Attack without being discovered. Quests are a bit like they were in the previous games, either asking you to retrieve items or to kill certain enemies. However, in order to get the additional ranks, you’ll need to do special, one-time quests. I ignored quests for the most part during my playthrough, just because I didn’t want to have to deal with all the world map encounters to go back and report the completions. Also returning is the Colosseum, a place that is once again quite useful for leveling up fairly fast.
So, in the big grand scheme of things, is it worth it to return to the world of Hyper Dimension? If you’re already a fan of the series, then you’ll find the game a worthwhile pickup. If you’re looking for a new JRPG to tide you over on the PS4, then it may also be worth looking into. There are some “in jokes” you might not get, just as they’ve been explained to death in previous games and aren’t explained as much here. Your initial playthrough will likely last you somewhere between 30 and 40 hours, with the New Game+ lasting no where near that. The game is also not that overly difficult, though you can expect occasional spikes in difficulty at some bosses and sections. Overall, I did quite enjoy my time playing (there was a few accidental all night sessions from losing track of time), even if there were some systems I just found extremely frustrating.
Megadimension Neptunia VII Review Score
I would like to thank Idea Factory for providing me with a copy for review purposes.
Please note that I did not do the “Neplunker”, Neptunia’s take on Spelunker, feature, as I saved this for my New Game+ playthrough, in which it is much easier to do.