So, not to sound crazy or anything, but this is the fifth (yes, FIFTH) Hyperdimension Neptunia game to release in the West over the last 12 months – with two entries to the Re;Birth series, a spin off known as Producing Perfection (which was somewhat of a miss-step) and a strategy RPG known as Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart included in that tally.
This time, we’re treated to a new spin off – Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed – which, instead of hosting RPG elements like the aforementioned entries, is all about action; and boy, oh boy does it do it perfectly.
The story takes place as the girls take a break from their previous adventures. When Neptune is approached by journalist Dengekiko and Nepgear is approached by Famitsu (See what they did there 😉 ) to take part in a new combat experience things start to get weird. Clothes start to disappear and weird missions start to appear on the quest board, so in response Neptune and the gang decide to investigate what’s going on.
Upon completing some of the missions that are posted on the quest board, the team realise that there are some missions without clear goals, and that the missions in question should never have been filed. With that in mind, they realise that there are some mysterious forces at play – and here is where the quest truly begins.
Most quests play out with specific goals, such as; beating a specific boss, defeating a certain amount of enemies, or collecting a certain amount of items within a level. There are missions that only give you a vague idea on what you need to do – with one mission in particular having a goal that basically tasks you with locating two enemies in a level and killing them both at the same time.
Before you start a quest however, you’re able to select which characters you want to use. For the majority of the quests you’ll be able to pick two of the ten characters from the roster. The great thing about these characters is that none of them control the same, keeping the game feeling especially fresh (especially if you choose to vary which characters you want to use).
Although, Neptunia U is less of a JRPG than any of the other games in the franchise, there are still some RPG elements that feature in the game. Characters can level up, be customised, have unlockable abilities and – based on how many of certain enemy types you defeat – can unlock medals which in turn provide you with stat boosts.
The gameplay is quite simple; pressing square executes a standard attack, pressing triangle executes a more powerful attack, circle allows you to dodge enemy attacks and the X button allows you to jump. The right trigger button gives you access to your characters special moves, which consist of two powerful attacks that use AP to execute.
There is also HDD mode, which transforms your character into a more powerful being and makes them near enough indestructible. The main flaw with this however, is that once you activate HDD mode the game becomes far too easy and you’ll be slicing through enemies like a hot knife through butter – and that’s before you learn your EXE Drive moves, which are essentially super moves that destroy every enemy on the screen.
The game looks great, and the character models are very well designed – as are the stages that you battle on. These areas are vibrant and filled to the brim with an array of colours. The enemy models are also incredibly well designed, including the variations of each enemy that you encounter.
My main complaint with the game however is the voice acting; it’s repetitive, dull and for the most part had me cringing whilst I was playing. It’s clear that the characters were badly cast and the performance proves this, however the cutscenes in the game can be quite amusing – especially when the characters break the fourth wall (which happens quite a lot)! However, these cutscenes are also spoiled by the horrendous voice acting.
The game’s main campaign lasts around ten hours, but once you complete the story you will unlock two new modes. The first mode is called the Gamindustry Gauntlet and here you will see the game’s characters pitted against each other in a 1-on-1 combat tournament. The other mode, named the Neptral Tower, tasks you with ascending a 50 floor tower with each floor presenting a number of enemies for you to defeat. The challenges that you must overcome in this mode get progressively more difficult the further you progress, but luckily this mode never seems to get difficult enough to become frustrating.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a fun and hectic game with a great story and great combat system. It is, however, let down by a rather short main campaign and very mediocre voice acting. Don’t let this put you off though! Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is definitely still worth a go if you’re a fan of the series in general, or worth a look if you’re in need of a high octane, fast paced action game.