I have been a big fan of the Neptunia series over the years since I played the first title on PS3. I always loved the comedic script, the nods to various developers and gaming conventions and of course, the general idea of a literal console war. To be completely honest, I was a bit puzzled at the release of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR though, as it is essentially just a VR capable re-release of Megadimension Neptunia VII without the DLC characters and what I would consider an overall gutting of the original game. I’ll go into detail on some of these omissions and additions later, but I will be as fair and honest as I can with this review so buckle up as I have a lot to say.
Visually, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is a pretty stunning game. If you haven’t played VII then this is a pretty noticeable upgrade in visual fidelity compared to Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, which is the game set directly beforehand in the series. Character models are far more detailed and the UI, battle system and dialog scenes are all sharp and crisp, however in comparison to VII, VIIR seems to lack the bloom effect and lesser lighting quality. The omission of the bloom effect and the lesser quality lighting is probably something that can be chalked up to making it run better on a VR headset but still, it’s a noticeable difference. Some of the dungeons have been given a redesign too and use better, higher quality textures and certainly look much better, so it’s a bit give and take. That said, if I were to compare VIIR to Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online, I’d say the latter has better character models but that might just be down to personal taste.
The dialog as usual for Neptunia games is hilarious and adds much to the story, but as I mentioned earlier the DLC characters have not been made available, thus you only get the base story so the plot itself takes a bit of a hit for that. Still the general game’s plot overall is great and absolutely takes the series in a forward direction adding entirely new dimensions to the game world, making this game literally multi-dimensional from a story standpoint. The game is quite dialog heavy, the pacing is a bit strange and it seems to fluctuate with some sections taking much longer than others but overall it’s well written, quite funny and pretty damn epic. The story introduces new characters, new giant bosses and second form CPU transformations known as ‘Next Forms’ so in terms of the continuity, the overall plot adds a lot to the series and sets the bar high for the next game. As far as I can tell, the VIIR version adds a new VR room which is used for putting emphasis on in-game characters and ‘The Player’ interaction, breaking the fourth wall and.. well, being lewd in general. Other than that, VIIR only adds a few new cut scenes and CGs to the story while omitting the alternate endings VII had, so it cuts out quite a bit of the overall story while adding little. I guess if you’re an avid fan of the series, love fan service or are really into your waifus, there is appeal in VIIR, but it certainly cuts more than it adds plotwise.
Moving on to gameplay, there is noticeable difference between the UI of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and VIIR with a lot being streamlined. Neptunia games tend to re-imagine their UIs and battle systems slightly between games but VIIR changes quite a lot and I’m torn. I prefer Victory’s battle system and UI, but VIIR’s UI is still good. It has a totally reworked battle system from VII and is one of the most noticeable differences between versions, though I would say VII’s battle system was better as it was similar to previous games, whereas VIIR’s might be confusing initially to returning players used to the tried and true battle system that has steadily evolved since the first games; though I can see the merits of the change. The diamond setup is fairly easy to get used to and would likely be picked up by new players better. Still, its hard for me to justify the change as it deviates from what Compile Heart seemed to be building on for a few entries. VIIR also runs at 30fps as opposed to its VII counterpart which runs at 60fps, so there’s a noticeable decline in smoothness. That being said, the game being optimized for VR headsets would be to blame for this too. The new second form CPU transformations are amazing, add depth to both the characters and the battles themselves and really make you feel powerful. If I’m being completely honest, while CPU forms are customizable, as a long time fan it was getting tiresome just having the same old transformation over and over, so a new level being reached was long overdue. The giant bosses are amazing too and really add a feeling of tense atmosphere to already epic moments of the game. While we, the players, get a Next Form CPU, now there are giant bosses to contend with so the addition of both really kick things up a notch in this entry.
Before I go on, I feel I should point out some more omissions from VII in the VIIR version. New Game+ has been completely axed and as I’ve already mentioned, most alternate endings and DLC characters have also been cut, so replay value takes a big hit. There is also only one save slot rather than multiple slots, which I don’t see much reason for, as all it really does is prevent you from loading an earlier save if you screw something up; although there are auto-saves to help alleviate the issue presented by only having the one dedicated slot. I strongly feel that if a developer is going to release a game only 3 years after the initial release, it should only add content and improve gameplay, not take it away or modify gameplay to be unbalanced, so I find it strange that all the DLC isn’t available or not just straight up included in the base release of VIIR. Cutting alternate endings outside of the True Ending and only having one save slot.. that just seems like a detriment and I just can’t justify it. Gutting out the alternate endings and only allowing a single save slot just makes the game a more contained experience meaning once you’ve finished it, you have the one main ending and there is no point in playing any more. With no New Game+ available, Compile Heart give the player the impression they don’t want you to play VIIR more than once and with only one save file, if you mess up at any point and miss something, you have to play the entire game over which is frustrating. There is the addition being able to sprint in the field which increases run speed two-fold, making getting to and from place to place far less time-consuming and now your party members following you in the field, which is something Compile Heart have been adding as DLC to previously released titles recently. It’s a nice addition, which makes you feel less alone in the field and helps with overall immersion when you can see what other members of your team are up to.
The sound effects in general are no different from the VII release outside of it feeling different while wearing a headset. I borrowed a friends VR headset for the purposes of this review and through the headset, the music and sound does feel a bit more immersive, though in saying that I do feel that opinion is entirely subjective. Outside of that, it’s completely the same as the initial VII release with the addition of a few new music tracks (eg. new boss specific themes, Colosseum, etc). The music overall is really atmospheric and brilliant and while it is very fitting to the series, doesn’t sound too similar to previous games music. It’s certainly well composed and fits the theme to a tea. The voice acting as usual is very well done and quite detailed and all the VR scenes are voice acted so VIIR gets props for both that and the new tracks at least.
Now i’ve talked a lot about what VIIR has changed and removed while only a little about what it has added, so I think we should cover that. There is now a counter mechanic in battle which can be set to use a skill after an enemy attacks you, though upon using counter, your turn is ended which can be tiresome and had me avoiding the mechanic altogether. On top of that, there are new skill animations and formation skills that have unique cinematics for formation skills that didn’t have cinematics before which is a nice addition. Some battle skills now require certain conditions to be met before learning them, they cost money in-game and now skills and EXEs use both AP and SP with Next Form attacks using up all your AP and a sizeable amount of your SP.
Your party now gets fully healed at the end of each battle and to mitigate this, you may only use 4 items in battle which feels like a huge cop out to me. Equipment also have changes in effects like skill boosts and increased defense or attack; even in equipment of the same name. You can also now sell items anywhere too and hold up to 1000 items. There are no more random encounters on the world map and the world map itself is a lot more alive then the previous static image in VII. The scout system has had an overhaul now only allowing you to send out 1 or 2 scouts at a time depending on their skill. A bounty system has also been added in allowing you to hunt down powerful monsters and you can now upgrade weapons and armor too. There are probably more little tweaks and additions that I haven’t noticed too but considering all that I just mentioned, these are all minor changes that seem to be aimed at making the game much easier which is why I said it was “gutted” earlier. Auto-saving, auto healing, double speed sprint, selling items anywhere and holding so many items just feels like easy mode to me which might appeal to some people, but didn’t to me at all.
Overall, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR adds slightly less than it takes away which is a shame really because it didn’t need to cut anything out really. If all the alternate endings, New Game+ and DLC characters had been left in and there was an option to switch between VR play limiting fps to 30 and non-VR allowing the bloom, enhanced lighting and 60fps, VIIR would have been a must have for Neptunia fans and an overall upgrade. Sadly it feels more like an alternative version with VR support and watered down difficulty marketed at new comers rather than the hardcore pre-existing fan base and personally I much prefer VII to this version. It simply could have been better and perhaps Compile Heart plan to add the DLC characters later and might add the additional endings some day, but I won’t hold my breath. If you haven’t played Megadimension Neptunia VII, own a VR headset and want a solid JRPG to play on it, are into fan service or are fairly new to the series, this entry might be for you but personally I’d recommend Megadimension VII.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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