The Hyperdimension Neptune series is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best surprises of this gen. Despite harsh criticism from «professionals», it keeps going on and I’m tremendously happy to enjoy this 3rd entry.
The first contact is disappointing though. Graphically speaking, the game is roughly the same as Mk2 : 3D modeling is sometimes poor and the game still has the bad habit of going below 30 images/sec. on some occasions. Worse, the dungeons look more or less the same! On the other hand, fans will surely be delighted to see the return of 2D animated dialogs, which are waaaaay cuter than the ones in Mk2. Neptune Victory still looks good generally speaking, but Compile Heart has clearly been saving some money on the technical side.
The story is pretty bad. It looks like it was written on a tablecloth between main dish and dessert. The references to the world of gaming are not always clear (7 sages? Edin?) despite good interpretation of the market from the 80’s to date. This is hardly a problem, because the scenario is just a convenient way for delivering to most delicious Japanese humor there is. Let me get this straight, Hyperdimension Neptune Victory has been a huge laugh from A to Z! Pururuto, a new central character, is especially funny : she’s naive, lazy in her human form and talks slooooooooowly. While in goddess form though, she… well I’ll let you find you by yourself. Let’s stress that this newest episode has a LOT of (very long) dialogs. It therefore mainly addresses than fans of the genre, because the level of moe can be lethal for others.
It’s on about gameplay that I was the most curious about, because Mk2 was too easy when grinding a bit. Victory fixes this with higher difficulty. Common foes can wipe your party out in a flash if you don’t pay attention. Bosses all have auto-heal and can OHKO your characters every turn, so that you actually HAVE to grind. The bad thing is that the boss fights are pretty much one-patterned, that is to say fill your EX jauge, break the enemy’s guard and unleash your ougi. To achieve that sequence though, you’ll have to fully understand how guard breaks works, because now you have to be VERY precise in the timing. Like in Mk2, you have to be careful where you place your characters. This is even more crucial in the True End path, because the fights become even harder, breaking the repetitiveness because you have to carefully think your way to victory. This is especially for the final boss which demands a long preparation and a solid strategy. The ougi are as impressive as ever, and there are more than ever (you can see some in the videos I put here and there).
Hyperdimension Neptune Victory has more. I’ve been working on some trophies after the True End, and the internal clock shows 94h. It is far longer, richer than Mk2. There are a lot more side quests, trophies hunting will take half of your life (I’m only around 50%!), and it has 3 different endings. Victory introduces a «scout» system in which you send the inhabitants of the various towns to search the dungeons. They will discover new dungeons, special bosses, rare items, XP bonuses and such. This is a central feature, very addicting and essential to fully enjoy the game. Item creation also get more interesting and important, whereas I wasn’t of much use in Mk2. Sadly, there are fewer character than before : 6 during most of the story, 10 if you get to the 10th chapter on the True End path (+ IF and Compa who are optional as a paid DLC).
Despite some disappointing aspects, Hyperdimension Neptune Victory felt as great as the previous episodes. It goes further than Mk2 in many ways, and is therefore a good pick for the fans of the series and JPRG gamers as a whole.