Unlike most individuals that have the wherewithal to own any the next-gen consoles, Steam has quickly become a champion for those that go without as it continues to collect a few select titles into already overloaded library. Not exactly interested in splurging for any one system or showing much enthusiasm for the games available, Megadimension Neptunia VII has been one that I was eager to play and now fortunate enough to do so. How does it stack up compared to its predecessors?
Title: Megadimension Neptunia VII
Developer: Compile Heart (Localized by Idea Factory International)
System: Playstation 4, PC [via Steam]
Length: 35-45+ hrs
Much like the previous entries (Hyperdimension Neptunia V specifically), our flaky heroine once again finds herself dealing with more dimension hopping shenanigans as she and Nepgear are sent to a realm known as the Zero Dimension meeting with the mysterious Uzume Tennouboshi and sent down another wild ride to save Gamindustri from its impending ruin. Departing from the formula of past iterations, Megadimension is split into 3 definitive arcs or chapters as the game progresses. Despite still being apart of the same interconnected narrative and not doing anything substantial, the structure does make introducing new and returning characters effortless instead of throwing them at the player all at once. That being said, not a lot has changed for Megadimension mechanically wise as it has in terms of performance, however, believe that the nuances in a few areas are worth examining.
Combat being a primary example is the same turn-based affair with a few slight changes, for better or worse. Whereas the position of your characters didn’t much in the previous games, here it accounts for a great deal more such as attacking the enemy from behind will cause more damage or even certain angles will cause what is called “Part Break” which will not only weaken them and cause certain skills to be unusable but also cause the drop rate of certain items to double after the end of battle. However, besides being useful in that sense, positioning also allows for the use of more powerful skill attacks called “Formation Skills”, if you can get your characters aligned in the right places. Not to say that it makes battles more tactical, yet does add another layer to an already simplified system. As simple as combat has become the game has also fine tuned the balance such as making the EXE Gauge double has the transformation currency as well as even making the share values play a small role in the form of stat bonuses. Hardly qualifying as anything momentous, the changes to combat has made the battles more engaging rather than a chore compared to the last games.
When you’re not laying the smackdown on some baddies you will also find that the exploration in and outside of dungeons hasn’t changed too much either. One familiar feature returning from Neptunia V is the scout system that allow players to discover new monsters, items, and places as well as add special parameters to dungeons depending on the scouts sent. Of course, complimenting that and completely new to the game is the investment feature that allows players to spend credits in 3 areas in order to produce new items for shops to sell or even cause new events to populate the world map. Taking the place of the old system of having to gather material and make said item for to available – I can at least say that is a step up, but in hindsight, the game still does gate how much progress you can make – the amount of credits needed to invest withstanding. The last (and my favorite) additions is the inclusion of a minigame affectionately dubbed “Neplunker” (named after the old school Spelunker) where players have the chance to explore a dungeon, but placed under special conditions. Reach the end without succumbing to any of the hazards and traps along the way and you get rewarded with various items plus anything you managed to snag along the way. While the minigame is optional and not required to be touched, it is recommended to at least give it a go since you can obtain items you otherwise couldn’t from the core dungeons or at the very least, tough to come across without multiple trips or utilizing the scouts.
In terms of the aesthetics, while the Playstation 4 proved to be a great boon in terms of the performance and visuals, the PC version doesn’t fall to far behind. On my end, I can say that I did have a little trouble getting the game to run reliably at 60 frames per second (probably due to my sub par machine), but didn’t cause any foreseeable problems with getting the game to run as it should. Most of the old assets brought into the game alongside the newly created (I.E monsters, dungeons, etc) rendered and meshed together well with the rest, yet in many cases, you can tell the bare minimum was done to make them look presentable. On the musical side the equation, the soundtrack quality has improved greatly since the past entries, especially with Neptunia team using its own in-house composers. With most of the tracks taking on an electronic/techno-esque type of approach, there is a lack of diversity, but the variety and arrangement tends to be the saving grace. Out of all the tracks my favorite would have to be “ENCOUNTER OF DESTINY”, the primary track used in the major boss battles and really sets the stage as you face off against gigantic foes that seem hopeless to defeat.
Even though Megadimension Neptunia VII brings the franchise into the next generation of consoles it still feels like much hasn’t changed. This is a plus for the series always keeping its familiar, albeit impish sense of humor and more familiar gameplay, but also a detriment for seemingly not improving much beyond making a few incremental changes that barely pass as refreshing. With another entry in the books for the mainline titles, it does make me wonder what is in store next for Neptune and the gang – no more dimensional traveling escapades I hope. Of course, just throw an idea out there: How giving Vert her own game next? Maybe an adorable little sister or two? Come on, Compile Heart – you know you want to.
Pros: Improvement to combat keeps battles interesting, soundtrack quality, easy to digest narrative structure.
Cons: Quest system is still annoying to contend with, PC version doesn’t always reliably run at 60 FPS (patch will probably fix this), combat can still feel tepid.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Idea Factory International. All images and rights to them belong to Idea Factory International/Compile Heart/ and only for review purposes. This review is primarily focused on the Steam version of the game.