"While it's not a 'quality' game, it's a fun romp through Zero Dimension and Hyperdimension that fans of the series will fully enjoy."
At this point, the Neptunia series is known for its quantity of games more than anything else. Neptunia brings the whole "annual release" idea to a whole new level, sometimes releasing two or three games a year. Most are remakes and spin-offs with actual mainline games coming once every few years. Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is the latest remake in the series. Megadimension Neptunia VII was easily the best entry in the series up to this point. With Compile Heart finally nailing the battle system after multiple entries, the game running at a very consistent 60 FPS, and giving us a decent story alongside a whole bunch of new characters, VII was Neptunia bliss. However, VIIR has chosen to change the battle system, leaving me with doubts going into the game. Will this manage to be as good as VII?
A weird incident leads Croire and 'adult' Neptune to the real world where they meet you, the Player. This is how they learn that they always make it out of dangerous situations because you help them out by playing the "game." After you help them out in the events of Megadimension Neptunia VII, the CPUs/goddesses find ways to come over from their dimension to visit you.
New story elements are limited to VR segments, and most of them consist of having conversations with the CPUs in your room. Croire and Histoire have saved 'memories' of the events of Megadimension Neptunia VII for you to play, and this, of course, is the bulk of the game itself. As I mentioned in the intro, the story of VII wasn't anything too special, as most Neptunia games don't have the best stories. It was a bit darker than usual, which I still feel isn't the right fit for this series. However, it's competent and quite long, giving you an in-depth look at all the characters you've come to know over the years. It is quite difficult to get the true ending, almost requiring a guide to get it.
I was a pretty big fan of Megadimension Neptunia VII's battle system. Battles were quick and easy, and the combo system felt natural. This battle system feels a lot slower with the return of Action Points and feels more like a mixture of the second game of the series (mk2) and VII. You have to defend after all of your actions, you can't control your attacks mid-combo like you could in the original game, and items are limited. There is a bit more strategic depth to this system: by choosing only one or two attacks in your combo, you can have your next turn faster and save your Action Points for your next turn. Until later in the game, you have to balance how you spend your AP and SP or early fights could spell your doom.
Both VII and VIIR have fairly difficult fights, and in VII, I found myself spending a lot of money on healing and SP-restoring items to make it through dungeons. However, VIIR made up for this by restoring your HP after every fight and making SP a resource earned in battle. This also makes grinding much easier. Restoring your HP after every fight makes the Hyperdimension section of the game more palatable, since you often only control one character during segments of that arc. The need to grind in general feels like it's gone down significantly, which was a big sticking point for me in VII.
Combat takes place in a small arena where you can position your characters strategically in order to hit enemies and pull off combination attacks. The game rewards you with more money and experience for getting additional hits and damage in a fight, as well as breaking monster parts, which are on tougher enemies. You want to earn as much money as possible, as skills require money to unlock. I'm not sure why you need money to unlock skills. The game makes up for it by having 'technology levels' that upgrade the Shop's weapons and armour at no additional monetary cost. This does save money, as typically the shops are where you spend most of your money in Neptunia games.
The game rewards you with Bonus Points for performing actions on the field like jumping, breaking objects, running, etc. You can also get them by leveling up. Bonus Points are new to the series: they are free points to spend on stats of your choosing. You can use them to increase how much damage you do, how much damage you take, how fast your turn arrives, and how accurate your attacks are. VIIR also introduces a new weapon system. Each weapon has a built-in specialty where putting more Bonus Points into particular stats will level up other stats. For example, if the weapon emphasizes strength and you put more points into strength, it might increase vitality and agility. You can retool your Bonus Points whenever you want, so you'll never feel like you're stuck with any particular configuration. This makes it easier to cover some characters' weaknesses or emphasize their strengths.
Having jumped straight from Cyberdimension Neptunia into VIIR, I am sad to see that VIIR is missing the Unreal Engine's polish. The in-game models don't look as good as they did in Cyberdimension Neptunia, but they did make up for that with new in-engine cutscenes. These cutscenes draw you into the story better, as you can actually see what's happening. Aside from that, the art in the regular cutscenes is great as usual. Neptunia art is usually full of colour, and the series artist, Tsunako, is great at creating moe character designs.
As with most Neptunia games, the voice actors help carry the sound department. Both English and Japanese voice actors turn in good performances. I don't believe they redid any of the recordings for the main story. The VR scenes don't have any music, which makes for a strange atmosphere in my opinion. The general soundtrack is all right, but nothing really stands out besides the openings for each arc of the story.
Megadimension Neptunia VIIR, aside from the battle system, is an improvement over Megadimension Neptunia VII. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to justify paying full price for VIIR if you already played VII. So if you're in the weird and small minority that likes Neptunia but hasn't already picked up VII, I would recommend VIIR. While it's not a 'quality' game, it's a fun romp through Zero Dimension and Hyperdimension that fans of the series will fully enjoy.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.
In the interest of timeliness, this review is based on a partial playthrough of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. The reviewer has previously completed Megadimension Neptunia VII.