When Compile Heart announced a Hyperdimension Neptunia game entirely dedicated to Noire, my favorite character, my hype was at max level. I quickly started to expect the wildest things given that it was to pioneer a new genre. When Hyperdevotion Noire was unveiled in November 2013, I was like thunderstruck…
Hyperdevotion Noire comes as a Strategy-RPG very much like Disgaea. You have a sky view, a grid and a dozen of units to lead to victory. In that way, it’s a pretty good Tactical since it brings a sufficiently fresh and varied gameplay.
Indeed, STING’s latest work has you face a lot of unusual situations, like various types of vicious traps, crates to pile up or use as mortar (deadly), wacky transportation systems or a virus to eradicate! Hyperdevotion Noire also has difference of height as a parameter : it will make you lose one turn if you fall from too high, or give you advantage if you have the high ground (the «jump» highly varying depending on the character). In particular, the heroines can fly in goddess form and nullify the height requirement. Careful though, this is only once a mission.
Furthermore, Hyperdevotion Noire borrows Fire Emblem Awakening’s support system, complexifying it more. If you have one or more allies around you when you use a skill, you benefit from diverse effects like less MP/AP used or a formidable boost in attack power. This system is quite hooking strategically speaking and it is critical to master it to beat bosses, because this game has no mercy. Numerous times it felt absolutely tiring : some bosses can OHKO several characters at once, status ailments are rife, a couple of objectives were unbearable and I’ve been surrounded more than once without any chance of breaking through. That said, Hyperdevotion Noire borrows to Sen no Kiseki the system of retry with lowering the difficulty, which was more than welcomed since I could beat it in the end.
The story is ridiculously far-fetched, but the game comes with the usual references to the gaming world at large. This time, the 18 new characters of this spin-off don’t represent consoles or publishers, but entire genres or whole series! We immediately find out that Tsunemi embodies the Project Diva series and Bio Resident Evil. Some parallels are really fun, like the rivalry between Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy or the clever parody of Lightning Returns. However, those Easter eggs aren’t all that sophisticated or very clear, which was already a issue in Neptunia Victory.
If there’s one department in which STING’s product meets expecations, it’s without a doubt in its fan-service, whose quantity and nature sets a new record, even beyond ReBirth2’s kinky offering. Well, given that STING had delivered the (very) steamy Dungeon Travelers 2, I expected no less. Although events are not all sexually oriented, some have quite intense innuendo…
Also in the fan-service category, STING has implemented a mini dating -sim which puts you more or less in relationship with Noire (only her). It’s important to stress that the story is told from the point of view of the player, a bit like in the first GBA Fire Emblem. I say more or less because this feature completely misses the point : it’s actually a series of questions/answers in which you help Noire managing Lastation’s people’s complaints. I found it not that interesting, especially given that it’s not dubbed at all (kinda lame for a dating-sim). In general, the game is voiced only in the main parts, which diminishes the pleasure in side parts.
My main concern with this game is its graphical presentation. For starters, I abhor super-deformed/chibi characters (but that’s my opinion, some people do like it), but aside that, this second spin-off offers some terrible 3D while ReBirth2 and the upcoming Action Neptune U are absolute masterpieces of beauty. I do reckon that visual pleasure is essential to bishôjo games, and here we don’t have it. Super Heroine Chronicle did manage to make the best of the same type of design, Hyperdevotion Noire didn’t even try.
To sum up, Hyperdevotion Noire is a rather good Tactical, an excellent ecchi game but its miserable budget drags it down where it could have made wonders.