As the unofficial parole officer in charge of Idea Factory/Compile Hearts, I had always feared that they might mingle with the wrong crowd in the institutional hell of budget JRPG development and it seems my fears have been realized.
While the Neptunia games have hit their strides as of late on the Vita, they decided to let the folks at Tamsoft take the reins on an attempt at yet another genre.
Tamsoft, for those unfamiliar, are the people behind the Senran Kagura and Onechanbara series which aren’t exactly the most critically successful titles for very good reasons.
Not to say that they only make bad games since I moderately enjoyed one of the Senran Kagura games on the Vita but I would be more than a little hesitant to give them a shot at putting out a iteration on my flagship title.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive
Voice Acting: JPN/ENG
Demo Availability: N/A
Length: 8~ hours and more with post game content
It’s like if I were Konami or something and I decided to let some random western developers take a shot at my coveted Silent Hill series.
That’d be stupid.
Anyway, Tamsoft is known mostly for its eagerness to rely on fan service over actual depth and substance so I had a decent idea on what I might be in for before even loading up the game.
The story of Action Unleashed is centered around two new characters to the series, Dengekiko and Famitsu who are personifications of two popular Japanese gaming news/review outlets. While you might not have heard of Dengeki, I’m sure you have heard of Famitsu as their review scores can be seen mentioned all over the internet.
These two determined gaming journalists are on a mission to write exciting articles centered around the goddesses of the “Game Indistri” and end up going on an adventure with the rest of the standard cast.
That’s a bit of a disappointment considering in the last original Neptunia game on the Vita, they introduced over a dozen new characters based on popular game series. On top of that, given my limited knowledge of Dengeki and Famitsu, I feel most of the inside jokes and references went straight over my head.
It would’ve been much more interesting if they decided to make brand new heroines in association with western gaming media like IGN, Polygon, Gametrailers or even NeoGAF. Yes, it might be too much to ask for but the potential for humor in that case is absolutely limitless!
The gameplay revolves around simple hack and shoot action where two characters are chosen at the start of a mission, locked in an arena and tasked to kill everything on the screen until the win conditions are met.
There are a few missions that have hidden objectives that must be pieced together but it would be too much to call them puzzles as they all revolved around killing one thing or another in very particular but obvious fashion.
There’s a costume break mechanic straight out of a Senran Kagura game but it’s mostly there for the eye candy and offers very little strategic value.
It seems odd because in the Vita Senran Kagura game, getting costume broken greatly changed the move list of the character and made them play very differently, introducing a layer of strategy for what “mode” of a character would be best suited for a situation.
In this title, it feels as though it’s something they felt they had to throw in for no real good reason other than, “people will expect this from Tamsoft”.
The combat runs at a quick pace without dropping any noticeable frames even in the most hectic moments but it’s overly shallow with only a few moves in each character’s arsenal and becomes repetitive rather quickly.
There are some extra missions that unlock after the completion of the main campaign which lasts around eight hours along with a few new modes to fiddle around with but none of them were particularly compelling.
While there are a few chuckle worthy jokes littered here and there and the combat is competently implemented, I can’t help but feel that it’s a very barebones experience that offers nothing new to the hack and slash genre.
With the recent release of Hyperdimension Noire setting the bar for quality and creativity for all Neptunia games to follow, I feel this one just falls well below the mark.
Better luck on the PS4, Nep Nep.
Fun Tidbit: This is a common feeling I get while reviewing game!!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.