Being new to the Neptunia series I was a little wary of what I was in-store for when I was given Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation for review. With no knowledge of the storyline so far from previous titles in the series I decided to just dive straight in and hope that the game would be welcoming for a newcomer like myself.
Idea Factory and Compile Heart’s third entry in the Re;Birth series is a remake of the PlayStation 3 title Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory that originally released in 2013. The game’s story remains pretty much the same in the PlayStation Vita version but there are also some new features, such as an improved RPG battle system, more scenarios and a lot more of the fourth-wall breaking humour that the series has become renowned for!
In the opening sections of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation Neptune gets sucked into an alternate dimension. This happens after a meeting with a timid girl, and sees Neptune sent back to the year 1989 – where the world’s CPUs are just starting to find their feet. Falling from the sky and landing on Noire, Neptune arrives in this alternate Gamindustri stripped of her CPU (Console Patron Unit)powers. It is here that she meets Plutia, a new character in the series and the CPU that is in charge of this reality’s Planeptune.
After managing to make contact with the dimension that she came from Neptune learns that the only way to get back to her world is by working hard in this universe to ensure that each country’s shares rocket. To do this you will need to complete the quests that you will find in Guilds that are located in each of the countries. These quests tend to task you with travelling to the various dungeons that are located in each land and collecting a set amount of items or defeating a number of a certain enemy type. It is worth noting that these quests can be all activated at once, allowing for you to just carry on with the story and you will find that you will complete a great deal of them just by exploring. I would highly recommend this because if you do tackle them one at a time you will find that the game will become pretty repetitive.
You will tackle these quests with familiar CPUs Noire, Vert and Blanc – with a new CPU in the form of Plutia making an appearance in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation. Using these characters in battle will be familiar to anyone who has played a turn-based RPG game before, although this game does allow for you to move around in the battle area allowing for you to throw some tactical placements into the mix. The other staple in this series is that each of the characters can transform into their CPU mode. This sees the girls transform into an armoured (often bustier) version of themselves when they activate HDD (Hard Drive Divinity) Mode – a life saver when you need to take on tougher opponents due to the boost it gives these girls in their abilities.
There are many quests available to choose from and you can activate many at once. Although these quests are not part of the main storyline, some of them do need to be completed in order to advance the game’s story.
You can also advance the story by looking out for ‘Events’ that are dotted around the world. Looking at the World Map you can spot areas that contain events (these events will generally trigger a cutscene that will progress the story) as they have the word ‘Event’ just above the title of the area or dungeon that contains them.
The dungeons that you will traverse during the course of the game do vary in difficulty, but the game does not give you any indication of this. You will find at times that you can get through a dungeon with relative ease but then find that the next one that you try to take on will see you brutally executed within minutes of arriving in an area. The one downside to this is that the game does not have any form of an auto-save
feature, with the game only prompting you to save at the end of each chapter. This can mean that if you do enter a dungeon and your party does get wiped out you will be sent back to the title screen, meaning that you have to replay great chunks of the game if you do forget to manually save – which happened to me a few times but I soon learnt the importance of saving! You can save anytime you like from the main map screen and some dungeons will have a save point located within them – usually right before you approach an area that contains a boss battle!
You will be able to spot enemies in a dungeon before you enter battle, as they are visible on the on-screen map as little red dots. You can sneak past enemies if you wish to avoid battle, but if they see you they will give chase and will earn the first attack if they do catch you. There are also mini-bosses in the dungeons that you can challenge if you feel brave. These are highlighted by orange dots on the mini-map but you will not miss these creatures as they are absolutely massive and will provide a tough task to your team of CPUs. Unlike the smaller enemies that you will encounter, these large enemies will not chase you and you will only enter battle with them if you are the one that initiates the fight.
Another interesting feature in the game is the use of the ‘Plan’ system. Plans are dotted around all of the dungeons in Gamindustri, with others earned by interacting with NPC’s or completing quests. These plans, when collected, will allow you to modify the game to allow you to unlock certain items, add extra dungeons or even modify existing dungeons to add more challenge. This feature allows for some interesting additions to the game, and also provides a novel way for you to unlock items in the game. As each plan will require you to clear certain criteria in order to activate it.
Other features include the game’s Coupling system and Stella’s Dungeon. The Coupling system lets you pair up CPUs to boost their ‘Lily Rank’. Doing this will allow your CPUs to perform EXE Drive moves in battle. These are extremely powerful attacks and, with the right Lily Rank, characters can team up to perform these moves together – making for some awesome attack animations! Stella’s Dungeon returns from Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation and is a 2D mini-game whereby you will equip Stella with items and then send her off to make her way through the floors of a dungeon. Doing this will see her gather two sets of items, one set to use in the mini-game to help her progress further through the floors and another set that can be transferred to the main game to add to your inventory. Each floor takes a set amout of time to traverse, but you can set the parameters for this mini-game, send Stella on her way and then return to the main game, with a notification system letting you know whether the mission was a success or not. I found this mini-game to be a good way to gain items, but I also feel that it could have been explained a little better when it was introduced as I didn’t even know how to activate it until I stumbled across it amongst the plans that I had collected!
I found that the world of Gamindustri was easy on the eye, with the 3D models for the characters (both CPU and enemy) very easy on the eye – with a wide range of colours making the game really standout. Away from the dungeons that you navigate the game’s artstyle also translates well from 3D to the 2D CG’s that are used for the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation‘s narrative. If you’ve ever played a JRPG or a Visual Novel you will be familiar with this type of story progression, and although I found some of the cutscenes to be a little long (the most important scenes are fully voiced), these parts of the game is where the humour of the series really shines through.
It is great to see a game that doesn’t take itself so seriously, with nods to other games made throughout and even self-referential digs at other games in the Hyperdimension series you will soon realise that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation breaks right through the fourth-wall – which is something that not many other games attempt to do. The fact that this game does this and does it so well is testament to the writers and adds a whole deal of humour to a story that does well to keep you interested throughout the forty-plus hours it can take to see your way through to the end of the game.
Overall I was found myself pleasantly surprised with my first experience of the Hyperdimension series. This game kept me interested throughout and I found the story to be fun and enjoyable. Although the dungeon crawling did get a little repetitive at times, I found that I didn’t need to grind too much in order to be able to proceed to the next part of the story – which is something that has been a turn off in other RPG titles. Even though I have never played any of the other games in the Re;Birth strand of the franchise I found that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation did a good job of not making me feel alienated and it has definitely opened my eyes to one of the bigger franchises on the PlayStation Vita right now!