Megadimension Neptunia VII Review: Maybe Someone Should Push The "Off" Switch Already
At this point, nothing I say will probably sway you on games from Compile Heart and Idea Factory. Seriously, they're pretty much the same roleplaying games at this point. Anyone who's played one of their games (with the exception perhaps of maybe Agarest) knows what they're in for. If you've enjoyed them before, great. If you're new to the world, then perhaps pick up Fairy Fencer F, still a high water mark for the company and a good introduction to their odd hybrid of visual novel and roleplaying game.
But that said, as far as Neptunia games go, and considering Hyperdevotion Noire was a sack of doorknobs to the sternum as far as enjoyment went, Megadimension Neptunia VII (pronounced V-2) is one of the better entries in the series. IF seems to have fine-tuned their formula to an exact science, the graphics are top-notch, and the characters have enough style and humor added to them that it makes playing the game less of a slog than it might have been normally.
Megadimension Neptunia finds its hero, Neptune, Goddess of the Purple Heart, educating and messing about with her younger "sister" Nepgear, who will eventually take control of her region of Gamindustri. The two of them get a strange message from a broken console, drawing them into a post-apocalyptic future where the world has been torn apart by "the giants," which are clearly massive, destructive versions of the Goddesses from regular Neptunia continuity. Fighting against the goddesses is Uzume Tennoboshi, a mysterious woman who has the power to transform into the goddess Orange Heart. Together, the three set out to heal the broken world.
Neptunia's gameplay sets it up as kind of a dungeon crawler. You move from place to place on an overworld map, entering dungeons to clear them of enemies and gain levels, money, items, and equipment. In the dungeon levels, you traverse through platforming-style levels and hope to catch your enemies unawares to gain a better position in battles. Battles are carried out in a turn-based style with combo attack system. As you learn better attacks, you can swap the weaker attacks out for the stronger ones and create better synergies. You can also break down enemies into smaller parts, fight massive boss battles, and use combo attacks to lay waste to your enemies and save the broken world.
But this JRPG, in spite of all its trappings, falls into the same trap as a lot of JRPGs: Grind. It is important to grind like crazy to get up to the point where you can progress, it's important for you to constantly fling yourself at enemies to gain new powers and go up a bunch of levels, and it's important for you to check your XP and unlock all your abilities along the way. While this is true to life, that one must push themselves through a series of repetitive and boring tasks to be able to survive in the modern environment, in a game that is not similarly bound by the laws of society, it's tedious; and in this case, kind of like padding.
Repetition seems to be the name of the game. While I don't mind hearing the character's voices, hearing Neptune constantly shout "LIKE A KANGAROO!" every time she jumps is annoying. Having to trudge across the map to Mount Doom and back every time the story requires a little more time for a cutscene is annoying. Having to battle things until finally I get to the point where I can one-hit kill entire maps of creatures to fight a boss that's only slightly more of a challenge? Also annoying. Just in general, the amount of repetition and the number of things I had to grind were annoying.
Which is a shame. The game isn't bad. It just gets annoying after a while, and seems to have a fairly low replay value. Nep and friends have great senses of humor, and the voice acting is fantastic, the graphics are above par, and the controls aren't too confusing, though use of a controller is recommended. There's some depth to this, and I do like the depth that is there, between stat raises, mechanical rewards for achievement unlocking, and the combo system. It's all great. But the grind and the lack of much new from IF and CH means that, well...
There's just not a lot of meat here.
Final score: 3/5. It's average, but it could be more. And grind...well, that's a different article.
The reviewer received a copy of this game in exchange for a review.