Does Nep-Nep get a Yep-Yep? Find out in our review.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is a rather new Japanese roleplaying series that takes a play on the console wars that plague the real life game industry, Many of the game’s characters are named after – in one way or another – the various consoles released throughout the history of gaming. Re;Birth (which released on the Vita in 2014) was a retelling of the first game in the series (which released in 2011), and in that same vein Re;Birth 2 continues the trend by retelling the events of the second game in the series.
The story in Re;Birth 2 follows directly on from the events of the first game; with Neptune defeated and Gamindustri in ruin, a new team form to help fight against ASIC (Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime); an evil organization run by a group of enemies known as CFW (Custom Firmware).
You play as Nepgear (the younger sister of Neptune) who is saved by IF and Compa (two of the game’s more prominent side characters) as you embark on a quest to help free Neptune and her friends from a powerful foe. When Nepgear and her friends are defeated by the same enemy however, they manage to retreat and return to Planeptune to form a new plan.
The gameplay here is very easy to get used to, with the game mostly holding the player’s hand at the start of the game, helping players get the most of the experience. This becomes especially helpful when trying to learn and understand the game’s battle system and various other systems.
For the majority of the game, the story plays out much like a visual novel, you’ll be reading lines of text, but thankfully the larger amount of these cutscenes have voiceovers which help you get past the idea of bashing the X button to get through the cutscenes, and there is an autoskip feature so you can press triangle button and the cutscenes will go over at their own pace when the voiceover has finished.
A lot of the game’s action takes place on the map screen, where you can see cutscene events which offer interactions between you party. You’ll also come across characters who can offer help and advice as well as give you items to help you out. Thankfully, if you have something to do within a location it will be highlighted on the map so you’ll never feel like you’re without direction.
My main problem with the game was that going into Re;Birth 2 I hadn’t experienced Re;Birth or the original PlayStation 3 version, so trying to catch up with the story and the game’s combat system was quite a challenge. That said, after a couple of hours I had managed to successfully catch up with where the series was – but it’s definitely worthwhile playing Re;Birth before jumping into Re;Birth 2 as this well help most players have a better experience with the mechanics game and a better grasp on the story so far.
In terms of presentation, this is possibly one of the better looking games on the system. It truly looks like a console quality title on a handheld, though comparing screenshots between the Vita version and the PlayStation 3 will show some obvious compromises. The quality of the sound and voice acting is also great, the soundtrack offering the science fiction and fantasy sound samples you’d expect to hear from a title like this.
One thing I massively enjoyed about this game is the humour. There were times where the story had some breathing room – where it didn’t need to be serious – and in these cases the game managed to add humour and had me laughing a fair few times. This injection of comedy, plus the character interaction and the chemistry between the cast will help you grow to admire them throughout the course of your play-through.
Another stand out point for this game was its easy to grasp battle system. Each character would start off in a circle, and they could move anywhere within this circle; if they moved closer to an enemy they’d be able to unleash around 4 attacks per turn against an enemy. Speaking of attacks, combo’s and strategies are a must – which is especially true when it comes to boss battles, as they can be reasonably challenging.
The main system that players will have to become accustom to is the Hard Drive Divinity system, this allows characters to unlock a special form of themselves which increases their stats, giving them more health or making them more powerful, when a character has 100 Skill Points they can use this form in battle by pressing the square button. This system becomes rather helpful when it comes to boss battles as it can give you the advantage you need to get past a difficult boss battles or encounters.
The EXE Drive system makes a return to the series, allowing you to customise your parties attacks, this can become helpful when you need to change your attacks depending on what situations the game has put you in. All enemies have different weaknesses, so I found it best to make sure I was constantly tinkering with this system to make sure I found the best strategy for each environment within the game.
Like many other games within the genre, this game is a very long experience. You’ll spend at least thirty hours just on completing the main story. The guild quests flooding in at you as you complete them and the lengthy main campaign keeping your attention for an extended period of time as well.
In a time where JRPG’s are really becoming popular among Vita releases, Re;Birth 2 is certainly a great step in the right direction. If we get more games in the same genre throughout the Vita’s continued lifetime at a similar quality, then the Vita will truly find a niche similar to that of it’s predecessor; and that’s not a bad thing at all.