Title: Neptunia ReVerse
Developer: Compile Heart
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Idea Factory International
The Neptunia franchise needs no introduction with how many entries there are, for better or worse. Still, the latest localized release, Neptunia ReVerse, is especially noteworthy. It is a remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1, a remake of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia. So, we are diving into remake-ception here, a remake of a remake.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1 was a necessary remake, as the original title had some issues. While the general premise of the narrative remained the same, the experience was altogether different. Neptunia ReVerse is unfortunately nowhere near as varied or improved as the prior evolution and is instead a title that is a questionable, sigh-inducing existence.
Neptunia ReVerse follows the protagonist Neptune, a cheerful and optimistic bright-eyed girl, who is in actuality, the CPU, essentially the Goddess of the nation of Planeptune. Planeptune is one of four distinct nations in the world of Gamindustri, with the other three being Leanbox, Lastation, and Lowee, which also have their own ruling CPUs.
Additionally, each of the 4 CPUs has HDD forms that are more Goddess-like in power and appearance, alongside human forms that closely blend in with the general populace. The four Goddesses frequently battle for expanded territory in a seemingly eternal, perpetual conflict.
Narrative-wise, this title emits needed tension that the series has been lacking for years.
Following one questionable bout where the CPUs of Leanbox, Lastation, and Lowee team up against Neptune, the Goddess of Planeptune experiences amnesia that reverts her to her base, human form. This is where the title truly begins. Neptune befriends many who join the party, such as the well-meaning nurse-in-training Compa and the enigmatically adorable IF. What begins as a tale of regaining lost memories turns into an adventure of bringing peace to the realm of Gamiundustri.
Narrative-wise, this title emits needed tension that the series has been lacking for years. There are stakes, character introspection, and legitimate conflict. Fanservice does coat the experience, but that is just how the series operates. I felt that it was not overly invasive of the story being told.
The adventure is guided by a humorous tone the moves it forward, but the existence of essential dissensions allows it to retain its essence. All of this is not to say that the plot is a masterclass. It is merely serviceable—nothing more, nothing less. Granted, this is not a new journey given how borderline identical the experience is to Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1. It is definitively impossible for me not to compare it. Neptunia ReVerse is just too similar to warrant an identity of its own.
Combat is almost identical to Rebirth 1. It is turn-based and consists of players controlling 4 characters across a mini-field instead of the limited amount of 3 that was formerly the max. Positioning is somewhat important but usually doesn’t necessitate much thought since spamming commands usually gets the job done. In addition to special skills unique to each character, there are combo attacks.
the combat being a copy-paste of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1’s
Typically, especially against bosses, aiming to reduce the enemy’s Break Gauges with Break Hits and wailing on them with Skills and Power Hits is the way to go. Skills also come in non-damaging varieties such as healing, buffs, and de-buffs. The uniqueness of the playable cast is not particularly overwhelming, though it can reach that extent if one chooses to play the game on Arrange Mode.
When beginning, players choose between playing on Original Mode, which is as similar of an experience to Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1 as one can get, and Arrange Mode, which is basically the same game with a multitude of additional usable characters from the get-go. This goes without saying, but this mode is highly recommended for Neptunia veterans as not only does this make the combat seem infinitely more difficult to parse than it really is, but it also grants characters that are spoilers for this game alongside characters from other titles.
While the inclusion of this mode sounds lucratively wise to encourage veterans to dive into this already told experience, it is quite honestly a comically colossal mess. Battle balance is non-existent, and the freedom that comes from forming a unique party from the plethora of characters at one’s disposal feels unnecessary. I appreciate the idea of this mode, but it definitely seems like everyone was plopped in here with little to no thought on how this could work or be feasibly balanced.
Even if this were potentially a new game plus exclusive mode, I legitimately don’t see why I would bother playing the game like this. The Original Mode is more inviting even as a veteran because this amplifies the immersion that comes from only having the formerly intended party members during key battles.
In addition to the combat being a copy-paste of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1’s, the maps themselves seem to be ripped straight from the game too. There is also the elephant in the room I’ve neglected to bring up, which is the graphics. While I can typically overlook graphics for a fun experience, this is one of those cases where I can’t forgive this title’s appearance.
Perhaps this is the obvious facet to pick on, but this game looks like it belongs in the late PS3 or early PS4 era. It is not wildly different in graphical capability from Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth 1, which is concerning as that was a Vita game. I would not be so harsh if this were a multiplatform release on last-generation consoles, but this is a PlayStation 5 exclusive. This was made to be next-gen, and it most certainly does not fit that bill.
The character portraits and landscapes during conversations are gorgeous. Those are leeched off from the prior iterations of the games and not at all original to what this experience provides, though. It baffles me even more because I find Neptunia Virtual Stars, the recent PlayStation 4 release from the franchise, to be a better-looking game with its character models and environments.
Plan Creation is the most in-depth system players will be tangling with, yet it too is quite simple in design.
Moving on from the disappointments this title provides, is that the gameplay loop here is enjoyable. There are quests players can accept and complete and are all mostly self-explanatory. Another mechanic, Disc Development, has players create equipment with specifically utilized Chips that grant certain elemental resistances, attack bonuses, and other boons.
Plan Creation is the most in-depth system players will be tangling with, yet it too is quite simple in design. Plans are essentially synthesis recipes. They are obtained in various ways, such as dungeon crawling, NPC interaction, and more. Plans come in various utilities, by altering the monster appearances and drop rates, making entirely optional dungeons, granting system alterations, etc. This system is where I found myself the most intrigued and compelled as it grants addicting player agency and seemingly secret areas that made me feel accomplished.
The standout new feature added into Neptunia ReVerse that was not present in Rebirth 1 is a fishing minigame. This minigame is, uh, not all that fun. It simply requires pressing buttons at the right time, which grants items. Failing the minigame spawns in a monster battle. That’s essentially it, and there’s little more to it. It’s a decent novelty, I suppose, but not much more than that.
Lastly of note is the soundtrack. It is intensely encouraging in the midst of battles and calmly soothing on the world map and in certain cutscenes. The tracks alone kept me going throughout the entourage of mindless tedium.
Neptunia ReVerse is a title that sticks too closely to its roots to be a standout, next-gen experience. Despite the presence of a moderately entertaining gameplay loop, decent mechanics, and delightful character banter, the embarrassingly feeble graphical quality, lack of innovation for the series, and disturbingly overt reliance on old systems from a Vita remake from over half a decade ago brings this experience down more than a few notches.
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