Megadimension Neptunia VII
Megadimension Neptunia VII (pronounced as V-2) takes the normally jocular series and gives it a serious twist right off the bat. The purple-haired Neptune hears a distress call from the Zero Dimension and finds a mysterious white console with an orange swirl on it. Before she can even cast a dream with it, she takes it for safekeeping. She takes it to the other CPU leaders and they get sucked up into the zero dimension. There, you’re thrust into the heat of things with combat and even have some mini-bosses and a boss to contend with.
Megadimension doesn’t pull any punches early on, so being smart and healing during battles is going to be a key to survival. You’ll also want to avoid any needless battles because there aren’t any save points in the first dungeon. After getting to your destination here, you’ll meet Uzume – a brand-new protagonist for the series. She’s a CPU like Neptune and Nepgear, which shocks the pair. Uzume is battle-hardened, but friendly to the duo despite having a war of her own to fight in her own area.
The group comes together in a fantastic battle bringing about Uzume’s CPU form – Dream Heart, complete with the Dreamcast triangle on her head and an orange and white color scheme. From there, you’ll see that she’s as fleshed-out as the other characters and mixes in a serious attitude with comedy thrown in from time to time. Uzume is essentially the bridge to everything in this new part of the world for both the player and Neptune and Nepgear. Her enemies become your enemies, and her allies become your uneasy alliances.
For a franchise that has relied on a ton of references and in-jokes for its humor, going for a more dramatic story is a risk – but one that pays off quite nicely. You wind up with a fairly rich cast of characters, and the formula of dialogue>battle>dialogue>battle is changed up with visits to in-game shops and other areas. Like usual with this series, you get to listen to every song you’ve heard so far – making this one of the few franchises, let alone RPG franchises with a music listening option built in. You can also view cinematics or see the still frame shots in full screen without text obscuring things. That goes for both the regular art and the more fan service-y stuff, which is toned down when compared to past games. You’ve got three stories to play through in Megadimension, so there’s plenty of fun to be had just with all of the dialogue.
The core game is very similar to past Hyperdimension games – just with much higher-quality assets to look at. You’ve got the same blend of turn-based combat alongside the timing-centric action combat and a little bit of free-roaming too. Being able to move around the battlefield with great intricacy allows you to either do double, triple, or quadruple-team attacks depending on how large your party is.
The break system from past games is gone, while the combo system really makes things better than they were before. You still have your skills to use, and that will act as your summon spell if you want to do tons of damage. High damage isn’t the only thing to factor in though – because going with a lower-powered weapon can allow you to land more hits during a combo. This means that you may sacrifice doing more damage per shot, but can do more overall damage if you time everything right.
The controls are pretty much the same as they ever were, with some hang-ups that were kind of acceptable before, but more disappointing now as well. The camera controls are still a bit iffy, and using the right stick alone can result in you not seeing on-field enemies and getting into unwanted battles during long dungeon play sessions. Fortunately, the top left-hand map marks enemies, so you can still get a rough idea of where they’re at – but it’s a problem that doesn’t feel like it should be there. Similarly, jumping around can be tough as can just figuring out where you can go since there are invisible walls everywhere and you can find yourself getting stuck behind something as small as a metal strip in the dungeon itself. Movement is a bit clunkier than it should be in dungeons, although this isn’t a problem in battles.
As a cohesive game, Megadimension is the best entry in the series to date. It still has some rough edges with the control, but the combat system feels smoother than ever before. The new characters are a riot and fit right in with the familiar cast – which is a huge boon to the game. As the Disgaea games have shown, it can be really tough to fit new characters into a game without just relying on the original cast because you know them so much more and are more connected to them. They’re familiar and comfortable, but this game keeps you in that comfort zone enough to make you comfortable to venture outside of it.
Visually, the higher-quality art assets give Megadimension a level of polish that has been lacking from both the portable and ports of the portable versions. Before, it was clear that the developers were starting with lower-grade assets – resulting in a game that was pleasing to the eye in the big picture, but also hurt in many ways. You would see low-quality textures and think in the back of your mind that you could tell what they were going for, but the end result just wasn’t represented. Megadimension features the same high-quality anime-style artwork as before, but with much higher-grade texture work on the character models and the environments. The end result is a more enjoyable experience, even if the character animation could use some work.
Megadimension Neptunia VII makes great use of the in-game soundtrack listening feature by delivering songs you’ll want to listen to. You’ll hear a lot of wacky J-pop, but it’s entertaining and serves as a nice break from the combat and dungeon crawling. The voice acting remains top notch and infuses life into the comedic writing – even when some of the jokes fall a bit flat. It’s a testament to the cast that no matter who is paired with you, you’re guaranteed to get some amusement out of it and that’s due to the right cast being hired and having chemistry with one another. For those seeking the Japanese voice track, that is available as a free download – so give that a shot if you so desire.
Megadimension Neptunia VII is the best entry in the franchise to date. It has the most polished combat, graphics, and presentation so far. Its blend of turn-based and action-heavy combat keeps things interesting and that merger of battle styles allows for a more user-friendly experience. Those seeking something turn-based will be happy, as will fans of action-heavy games – and everything is explained easily, with a gradual increase in difficulty as the story marches on.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Idea Factory International
This review is based on a digital copy of Megadimension Neptunia VII for the PlayStation 4 provided by Idea Factory International.