Move over, Nep-Nep, there’s a new MC in town!
I’m not much of a fisherman, but I’ve caught my fair share of hyper dimensional nep-tunas to confidently say that I know what they’re all about.
A bunch of cute anime girls representative of game consoles join together with other sugoi kawaii-desu (am I using this correctly?) anime girls based on popular game development studios and they go on a merry adventure together.
There’s an overused combat engine revolving around combos, and the dungeons are as inspired as a Naruto AMV set to Linkin Park music.
This is an educated guess after playing through four games in the series, all of which were more or less exactly as I described above.
So when I was told that Noire would step up to the lead role for a spin-off game, I hoped that it would be different at least, and as it turns out, it is.
The thing I didn’t see coming is that it would actually be a really fun game.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive.
Voice Acting: Includes both JPN/ENG
Demo Availability: N/A
Played: 10~ hours.
The biggest change from the standard formula outside of the lead character is that the standard turn-based combat engine used in all the other Neptunia titles is nowhere to be found here.
In its stead is a simple but rather elegant SRPG system.
The characters move about on tiles as typical of the genre, and have a certain range where they can move and attack. The big strategy element comes from the proper use of positioning, as when a character is standing next to an ally they gain a buff in the form of higher damage and SP usage decrease.
They also fill up a special meter when using skills near each other that governs the usage of devastating super abilities and HDD forms, which can easily turn the tide of any losing battle.
While it sounds simple enough, planning what skills to use and where to place the units to get the maximum benefits becomes a fundamental key to success.
There’s also a risk vs reward factor, as many enemies can unleash area damage attacks, which could pile on the damage on multiple characters at once. So while it’s possible to dish out incredible amounts of damage moving together in a group, one or two attacks could spell doom for your party caught out too close together.
The battlefields where the skirmishes take place show a good deal of variety in mechanics as well.
Traps, tricky terrain, and smart enemy placements often require the player to scout the whole map before making any hasty decisions.
In one particular map, there were a number of bombs I had to defuse before it was too late, and the field was covered in pits that would incapacitate my character for a turn if I stepped on them.
Add to that the enemies attacking me and a set of turrets that would attack with infinite range if I ended my turn in a certain line of terrain, and I was in for a fun challenge.
There were many more hazards and mechanics introduced in the chapters to come which, in conjunction with the assist system, kept the experience feeling fresh.
While there aren’t any dungeons to explore as one battlefield transitions into the next after a bit of dialogue, I wasn’t sad to see them gone, as I always felt the dungeons in these games were bland and quite boring to slog through.
There are extra side missions to tackle that unlock after each story battle, but I found most of them didn’t have the interesting level designs and careful considerations present in the story missions.
Lastly, in this title the new characters aren’t based on game development studios but instead, based on popular game series.
Well, let’s play a game. I’ll describe two characters in the title out of over a dozen and you can try to guess what game series they are a reference to.
Lid prefers to take her enemies down stealthily or by using a variety of traps. She likes to hide in cardboard boxes while complaining about how war has changed.
Resta is a little pink-haired elf girl who, contrary to her innocent looks, likes lewd things and is absolutely determined to find out how babies are made.
Were you able to guess both of the game series? The first character is based on Metal Gear Solid and the second is based on a lesser known RPG by the name of Record of Agarest Wars.
The humor is typical Neptunia, which means that it’s a bit hit or miss, but if you get the references, there are a few good chuckles to be had.
At the end of the day, I can say with confidence that Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is easily the best game in the series, and certainly worth the time of any JRPG fan.
Fun Tidbit: The next game in the series will star Neptune once more and go back to the standard Neptunia formula which is a bit disappointing to hear after how good this game turned out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.