Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Review
Where do I even begin with this one?
Okay, so for the past few years, there's been a franchise known as Hyperdimension Neptunia. The general concept is that the games industry is anthropomorphized as a land called Gamindustri, ruled over by warring goddesses who have "console wars" to determine supremacy and games companies are depicted as anthropomorphized anime characters.
Inexplicably, this has grown into a massive franchise of games, one of which is Hyperdevotion Noire, an alternate universe game where the anime goddess representing the Sony systems has taken over everything.
It's also not very good.
The plot of the game is fairly simple. Noire, the dark goddess, has conquered Gamarket. All she has left to do is cement her rule, which she tries to do with the help of a traveling fortune teller. Surprising no one, the evil-looking, evil-sounding fortune teller decides to take all the combined power, leave Noire powerless, and forces her to conquer Gamindustri all over again, recruiting friends and allies from her former generals along the way.,
The game takes the form of a tactical strategy game: Each turn, you move over hexes, attacking enemies and trying to complete objectives. Your weapons also do damage based on facing, element, and what abilities you use, as well as what weapons in general you're using. But, problems set in with the basic gameplay soon after, as combat gets kind of tedious when all you do is run around to the back of your opponent, hit them, and then wait for them to run around so you can take your turn again. The optional elements on the battlefield do add something, but it's miniscule at best.
That wasn't even the most egregious thing about the game. That would be the kind of fourth-wall premise to the whole thing. You, the player, are a male secretary assigned to help Noire restore herself to power. You're also kind of a perv. Now, I understand that yes, this game has a target audience, and yes, that target audience has some very specific tastes, but seriously, I felt like making the player a character and that kind of character made me want to play the game less. It just felt forced and cheap. And unnecessary.
The story also isn't that great unless you're already a huge fan. I can imagine that Noire's story might be something of a treat for the faithful, but I couldn't hit "X" fast enough to get rid of it all. It also didn't seem connected to the game for more than the occasional excuse. While it's true that both the plot and the game open up as Noire begins her conquest of the various lands all over again, it all feels static and linear. This could be excused-- even the worst writing can be okay in the right vehicle (and I'm looking at you, Dark Souls and Fallout 4), but with everything else, the boring mechanics, the arbitrary decisions, and the creepy overtones, it just gets buried under more and more of the same.
In the end, Hyperdevotion Noire is kind of just airless and cheerless. It's an okay game, but an okay game in a franchise that has seen much better titles is just that-- okay. Spend your money on something that won't put you to sleep, and maybe wait until this goes on sale. Until then, there are probably six or seven visual novels that might scratch your itch much, much better.
Full Disclosure: The reviewer received a copy of this game for review.