The original Hyperdimension Neptunia game is something of an anomaly as far as franchises go. Gameplay-wise, it was a bit of a hot mess, but was still successful enough to spawn several sequels and spinoff games, all which have not only overhauled the gameplay completely, but have made it better in every respect. Hyperdimension Neptuna Re;Birth1 is an attempt at erasing that original outing from everyone’s memory and hopefully replacing it with a much better game. And so far it’s on the right track.
1. If you enjoyed Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory immensely, then you’ll be in for a treat. Re;Birth1‘s combat has been repurposed to take advantage of that game’s engine and as such, plays quite similarly to it. Rather than straight turn-based affair, character positioning matters as you try to fit as many enemies into your character’s hit box as possible and combo away.
2. This deserves its own bullet point: You can heal yourself at will. No longer do you have to pool points into a chance that MAYBE your characters will mend their wounds. You can actually initiate it yourself. Phew.
3. You can still build your own combos from the game’s menu, though they’re not nearly as complex as they were in the original game. You have a limited amount of points to disperse on what attacks to include in your combinations and it’s up to you to decide whether or not to sacrifice powerful strikes in order to fit more of them in. EX Finishers can be setup with your combos as well.
4. Blank discs can be loaded with idea chips and subsequently equipped on your characters too that grant additional stats and abilities. Discs and chips can be found just by talking to NPC’s, downing tough monsters or traded in for with medals. The same Guild Quest system from the previous game is in place, allowing you to earn money, shares, and rewards from doing such things as slaying so many monsters or collecting items.
5. Despite being remade for a portable system, save points are alarmingly scarce. If you ever have to stop and quit, look forward to running past foes until you locate the nearest one, or hightailing it to the exit so you can do so from the world map. Something to be aware of if you were planning on firing the game up for short bursts.
6. While we’re on the topic of portable systems, Re;Birth1 looks incredibly sharp on the Vita. The artwork is colorful and vibrant, and the in-game engine manages to keep up with the gameplay so far as I can tell. The opening cinematic looks especially impressive.
7. The audio should sound familiar to franchise fans in regards to both the soundtrack and the voiceovers. The same English cast from prior entries has been brought together again, and as always, Neptune really nails her lines with the proper comedic delivery. Not a fan? You can switch over to the Japanese cast if you prefer too.
8. It’s been awhile since I last played the original game, but the story in Re;Birth1 so far seems to be identical save for a few tweaks here and there (which Neptune will point out to you during some fourth wall breaking antics). I’m not far enough into it to say if there’s anything substantial added in terms of content, though I never progressed that far in the PS3 game anyway. If nothing else, the changes thus far actually make me want to progress, so that’s something at least.
9. A new gameplay element that’s introduced in Re;Birth1 is the Remake system. During the course of your adventure, you may find various plans that serve a number of different purposes. Some of them are pretty basic, such as granting the ability to purchase specific items in stores, for example. Others can outright change the game, making different items drop in certain zones or raising/lowering the difficulty of monsters. And this is just what I’ve observed early on; I suspect bigger plans are on the way.
10. Another thing that bears mentioning: the game thus far is downright punishing compared to Victory. Not that Victory itself didn’t have its fair share of difficult battles, though they didn’t reveal themselves until late in the game. Not so with Re;Birth1. As early as the second chapter I had to fight two consecutive boss battles, the second of which I had assumed I was supposed to purposely lose on account of how easily I got mopped up. Nope. I guess I’d best get grinding.
Even after a few mere hours with the game, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is leagues ahead of the game it’s remaking and seemingly on par with last year’s release of Victory so far. It could very well be the best game in the franchise if it manages to stay consistent. Look forward to the full review! And if you can’t wait for that, well, check out the whole mess of screenshots below!
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 releases on August 26th for the Sony PlayStation Vita.