I bought Megadimension Neptunia VII for the PS4 a few years ago, yet I could never find the time to get around to playing it as I knew it would turn out to be a big adventure. In the run-up to obtaining Megadimension Neptunia VIIR, I jumped into the original so that I could see for myself what changes, if any, had been made. I came away both shocked and pleasantly surprised, as the latest remake seems like a different game. Sure, it has the same characters and story, but mechanically pretty much everything has changed. Since playing VIIR, I have shelved VII and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to return to it.
For those unaware, Megadimension Neptunia VII wasn’t number seven in the series. In 2012, Compile Heart and Idea Factory released Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory – which was the third major game in the series and proceeded to create a sequel named VII, as in V(ictory)-II. VIIR is a complete remake it seems, with added VR segments (which can be played both in or out of VR – no headset required), combat balancing, an overhaul to the combat mechanics, and other additions here and there as well as a new framerate and higher-quality graphics.
As I’ve not spent long enough with the original game, my review will be based on the new iteration and I’ll touch on the changes based on developer notes and a few observations I’ve had. As it stands though, Idea Factory and Compile Heart have done a great job with this game and I can’t wait to find the time to sink many, many hours into it.
If you’ve played VII then the story is identical. If you are unaware of who the characters are, think of the protagonists as the embodiment of game companies such as Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft. They are constantly referencing games off all of the platforms, there is a lot of imagery and subtle (and not so subtle) hints at games and services of the past. Within this world, known as Gamindustri, our protagonists are given the role of CPUs which are beings who can transform into more advanced forms in order to protect the inhabitants of their dimensions.
The game is very silly, light-hearted and humorous yet it’s also a very interesting and intriguing adventure that takes you through three main chapters/sections.
Part one of the game is “Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU” which is a bit dark and focuses on teaching you how to play the game. It’s here where you meet your first companion, Uzume, as you fend off creatures and search for ingredients to make some pudding in a post-apocalyptic style dimension. It’s here where you will first see how different the game plays as opposed to the original. Oh, you also arrive in this dimension by playing with a Dreamcast style console in your own dimension…
Part two is called “Hyperdimension Neptunia G: The Golden Leaders, Reconstructors of Gamindustri” and takes place in various locations. Here you will take control of each of the four main protagonists as you play through each of their scenarios. This part of the game is massive as you take on many dungeons, meet up with familiar characters (if you have played Megadimension Neptunia games before), and even continually learn new gameplay mechanics as you continue your rather crazy adventure. If you pick up the game or watch anyone’s footage of the game in order to make up your mind, be sure to watch footage from this section as I wasn’t fully on board until I got to this point.
The final part is the “Heartdimension Neptunia H: Trilogy Finale: Into Legend”. In order to bring your adventure to a fitting conclusion, you must journey to rescue the goddesses who have been kidnapped. A lot of the comedy was toned down a little in this final section, as things turned a little serious as you side with unlikely allies from the previous section in order to complete your mission.
The gameplay mechanics seem to be split into three segments to me, Combat areas, the overworld map, and interactions/talking sections. The overworld map is as it sounds, you can move around the various maps as you progress and you will either make it to your destination or you may encounter things along the way. The combat areas are destinations where you enter an area that is usually jam-packed with strange and fantastical creatures for you to fight against, which I’ll come to in a minute. Finally, the interaction/talking sections are delivered in a visual novel style with static images and portraits as we are presented with great dialogue and script. A lot of these are fully voiced but there is a lot of reading as not everything is voiced, which is a shame.
In regards to the combat, I much prefer VIIR to VII as they have completely re-done how the combat looks and feels. The core mechanics are still there when it’s your turn, you can move around based on how much movement you’re allowed to perform, and then you can either block, attack or perform a skill attack that utilises other characters. The difference between VIIR and VII is the polish and the ease of use. VII had you moving around and then button mashing the attacks you wished to use. VIIR has you moving as usual but then the combat is done by choosing earnt/bought skills and combos from a menu and queuing them up.
The side effect of this is that the combat feels very unbalanced and easy compared to the original. I’m not sure if it’s due to the balancing of the game, as there has been a lot of changes to the game’s mechanics, or if it’s just because I was levelling up and becoming stronger than my foes faster than I would expect? Either way, If you’re looking for a game to test your skills, or if you found the original game too easy already, this one may be a little easier once again.
The thing that had me drawn into the game and had me wanting more and more was the character progression system. I’m a sucker for a game that allows you to fully customise your character how you see fit and Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is crammed with various mechanics in place for this. As well as your standard levelling up and equipping new gear, you can create new items via crafting, increase the rank of your items, customise your attacks, and even create some custom discs which have attributes of video games. I got carried away and would spend ages simply making sure all my characters both looked and performed the way I wanted them to.
Each of the characters also has relationships with each other which is known as their ‘Lily Rank’. This allows you to learn and utilise co-op attacks whilst in battle. Also, on the subject of battles, I said above that you can customise your attacks – this is done by using the gold you earn in-game to purchase new attacks so you can chain them together in-battle in order to create awesome and unique combos. The developers really haven’t missed anything out when putting this game together! I’m aware the original version of the game may have had the same features, but VIIR does it so much better in a more user-friendly manner.
I briefly mentioned the overworld previously, I wasn’t a fan of this at first as it was very restricted and limited – but that’s only in part one of the game. When the game opened up in part two, it’s as if it becomes a new game. You can create shortcuts between locations -so you don’t get into random encounters and you can also spend your hard-earned money by investing in various aspects of the towns so they offer you more items. There are also guilds in each town that offer new quests for you to take on and try and overcome in order to obtain money and new items. There is so much to do in the game, I feel as if this review isn’t doing it any justice.
Another kinda big change that I noted was in regards to the crafting system. All of your crafted item’s stats are now randomised, so you are unaware of what your new creation will bring to the party. This can be both good and bad, it could be good as you could end up with an OP weapon early on which makes the easy combat even easier, or it could be terrible if you waste all your materials on a bunch of useless gear. The game also has no manual saving, only an autosave – which conveniently kicks in as soon as you craft something. So technically you could quit, back up your save to the cloud or USB, craft, see if it’s any good and then either quit and restore your save or keep it. Personally, I just kept what I created because I couldn’t be bothered messing around.
And now we come to two of the big changes in VIIR over VII, one of which is the main feature all the advertisements and marketing have been going on about…
First of all, just like Yakuza 6 and Yakuza Kiwami/Zero, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is only running at a solid 30fp whereas the original game has an unlocked framerate which was up to 60 but was regularly about 45fps on the base PS4. I don’t find an issue with this – the combat isn’t real-time, it’s all turn-based and the game has enough blur and a solid 30fps that you wouldn’t really notice. However, I do know some people may not be happy with this – I imagine it’s due to the game looking a lot better and is most likely either on a new engine or an updated one.
Secondly – VR. I know, you probably thought I had forgotten about it as it’s the main feature yet I haven’t talked about it yet. Basically, the VR is great, but it’s also kind of pointless. The game isn’t playable in VR itself, every now and again you are instructed to grab your headset, put it on, and then hold down the Cross button so the narrative begins. These segments take place in your room as you receive visits from the various characters of the game as they emerge through portals or even through the roof. I really enjoyed these segments as they cram so much video game trivia in there and obscure references that they really had me laughing out loud a few times. For example, Neptune describes how she saw a pink blob-like creature that sang to her which caused her to fall asleep. Upon waking up, she realised the aforementioned creature had drawn all over her face in a marker pen – clearly referencing Jiggly-Puff. There were other references, like Takeshi’s Challenge, just casually thrown into the conversations as well.
So, If I enjoyed them so much, why do I say the VR is pointless? Well, as good as they are, they don’t offer anything to the actual story as all the interactions you have are their own thing and have nothing to do with the actual game. Don’t get me wrong – the quality of the segments are great and the VR is really good, even though it’s a little blurry in the distance, but I was left wanting more. If you don’t have a headset, or you can’t be bothered to turn it on and off every time a segment comes up, you can just hold down a button and opt to see the scene in 2D. That’s right, you still get all the VR content, even if you don’t have a VR headset, you just look around with the control stick instead (and it’s on the TV).
I would still highly recommend you put on your headset if you have one though, it’s not as sharp but it’s a lot more immersive.
I’ve only played a few of the Megadimension Neptunia games on PS3 and Vita but Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is by far my favourite of the bunch, it’s the best looking and the most accessible. The issue is, will existing owners find anything new in picking it up? Other than the improved graphics, revamp of the controls and menu systems, and the added (VR) interaction segments – not really. The game seems easier, there is no New Game+, and my colleague who has fully completed the game has informed me that there is only one ending this time around instead of two. I would still highly recommend fans of the series and newcomers to pick it up, just be aware that this isn’t a new game, it’s just a very good remake of a game from 2015.
Megadimension Neptunia VIIR£54.99
- Graphically and mechanically far superior to VII
- Very accessible and well-done revamping of the various menus
- The character progression and interactions are both hilarious and very deep
- The VR segments are really well put together and look great (even if they add nothing to the story)
- Allows those without VR to still experience the same content
- The game seemed easier than VII
- The game itself, story and characters, is the same as VII
- Not all the tutorials and guides are useful