Megadimension Neptunia VIIR Review
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Release Date: May 8, 2018
Developer/Publisher: Compile Heart/Idea Factory International
Platform: PlayStation 4/PSVR
Two years ago, I was introduced to the Neptunia series through The Gamers Lounge, getting a chance to review Megadimension Neptunia VII (V-2, not 7). Since then, I've reviewed a couple other games in the series. The Neptunia series references the real-world video game and anime industries as a whole, with Neptune herself representing an ill-fated Sega console, and various other anime girls representing other industry giants. The stories are usually enjoyable on their own, but in a meta way can be enjoyable as you learn what they represent in the real-world industry.
This year I got the chance to review VIIR. What I have learned is something that anyone considering this title needs to know: storywise, this is the exact same game. There have been some graphical improvements, and they revamped the battle system. There is also a section of content compatible with the VR headset that unlocks as you play, though it is in it's own "VR Dimension" that is supposed to represent you, the player's, personal room. There's supposed to be a "NEXT" form, representing future consoles I would assume, as well, and talk of bonus content that unlocks after completing the game.
Therefore, if you want a thorough review of what the game is at it's core, please hop on over to my two-year-old review right here. The remainder of this review will help you know the differences between the now $40 original and the upgraded brand-new $60 edition being released this year.
This is where the biggest "hidden difference" is. At first, I thought the game was identical, so I took the time to go back and play both titles back to back. The subtle differences definitely change the core way you battle. In V-II, each character had a "move" meter when their time came up, which dwindled as you moved out from your start point. Now, starting a round will make a circle around the character glow, showing max movement range off the start. This makes it a little faster to decide where you want to go, as I can see trying to walk toward an enemy and being stopped unaware of how far your feet could take you. When checking the range of your attack, the patterns have changed. In V-II, Neptune would have a hitbox that was a flat bar straight in front of her, allowing her to swing large swaths across enemies. Now, her starting attacks are more a third of a pie circling off to her right, as her natural sword swing would go, with a concentrated attack section at the start of the swing. V-IIR also changes how you select your attacks. V-II had a button combo of sorts, where you would have certain abilities active represented by face buttons, and you would "combo" until your attack ran out. Going into basic attack in V-IIR will bring up a full, screen covering menu that shows all the stats of every attack instead of just the name, allowing you to pinpoint every single possibility. You add up your chain and then execute. In general, these changes make it more tactical and less arcadey. While it adds a welcome depth and strategy, I found myself missing the arcadey combo attacks after multiple random encounters. While I appreciate all the upgrades in the game, this is one I wish you could default back for comparisons.
A new graphics engine allows the game to run prettier and smoother without really effecting gameplay. There's not a whole lot to say on this front, because two years past on the same machine won't really make a huge difference in general. Playing back to back, I can see a lot of clean up, primarily in the user interface. I liked some of the brighter colors of the original, but the new text boxes and UI allow you to understand them better. I was confused at first but it was primarily because I was used to the original. The new UI does work perfectly fine and more naturally, although the first edition is perfectly usable.
One of the big changes in the past two years was the creation of PSVR, and this is the primary reason this edition has come out. When the game starts, you don't go straight in, you are presented with a room known as the "VR Dimension," and it's supposed to represent the dimension between your real world and ours, where the girls pop in and interact with you, the "player." It's a simple, college dorm style room, where you have a TV, couch, computer, and bed. They come in through a dimensional gate and monologue to you, basically having a one sided conversation. I'm sure it's difficult to add a ton of choices to options like this, but you basically end up watching them klutz around your room, compliment something you may have changed (you get new decorations and such), and answering a Yes or No question with a head shake. It adds a few cute scenarios, but nothing required. As you go through the game, more scenarios unlock. Even though the storylines and general playstyles are similar, unfortunately V-II saves don't transfer to V-IIR, so you can't go in looking for a quick unlock to see the bonus content.
Upon first view of the game, I was honestly disappointed. Having gone in cold with nothing but the name to go on (I tend to do that before reading the press release) I thought it was another sequel, as the Neptunia games have a habit of having odd extra parts to the name. Unfortunately, if you are a hardcore fan of Nep and the gang, that's what you are going to find. The bonus unlocks will require diehards to play the game again. Most RPGs aren't really played through multiple times, so this release is really a boon for fans who may have missed this one more than someone who wants to collect every Neptunia game out there. All that being said, though, my initial review scored a 4.25 out of 5, which is a solid game. I can't dock it too much for being a rerelease with bonus features, but some of the features feel like they could be turned into DLC for the original, allowing people with a perfect save file to still see the bonuses without retreading old paths.
If my two reviews have brought you to deciding to purchase, then V-IIR is definitely the one to buy. The original is down to $39.99 digitally, but the new content, cleaner graphics, and strategic combat is worth the $20 increase to average retail price. As a rerelease so soon after the original, my only hope is that gamers are aware of what they are getting into, something they may fail if they don't take the time to read the back of the box. Megadimension VIIR adds more to an already fun game that any fans of the series shouldn't have missed the first time, but have a chance to get in on it with even better quality.
-Traditionally solid gameplay and translation
-Unique arcadey yet strategic battle system
-Storyline reflecting real-world video game and anime issues makes it fun to see the links
-"BOOOIiiING! HOP! Like-a-Kan-Ga-ROO!" (see first review)
-It is the same game--True fans have to start over to see the bonus content
-Very wordy--games like this have a lot of exposition, and fully voiced it can drag on.
Thanks to Idea Factory and Compile Heart for providing a code for review!