10 Thoughts On… Megadimension Neptunia VII (Sony PlayStation 4)

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With all the games Neptune and company has on the PS3, Vita, and even PC, it’s about time that a new Neptunia game makes its debut on the PlayStation 4. Enter Megadimension Neptunia VII (vee two, not seven), the followup to 2013’s Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. There have been a lot of games and tweaks to the formula between now and then, so join me as I reflect on some of my observations on the latest in the series:

1. The story (or at least the beginning of it) seems to share a similar premise to its predecessor. While tinkering with a broken Dreamcast, Neptune and Nepgear are flung into another dimension where everything is in ruins and there are no people left alive to offer shares to the CPU’s. Along the way, they meet Uzume, the lone CPU survivor who has taken it upon herself to destroy the mysterious giant laying waste to the land.

2. Speaking of characters, newcomer Uzume is known as Orange Heart in her CPU form, and is the personification of the Dreamcast console. She wears the logo proudly on her tie and keeps a VMU unit on her arm. In her transformed state, she turns orange and white and a her armor looks like a bunch of Dreamcast lids fastened together. Anyone around in 1999 will appreciate the nod to the short lived system.

3. Did this game just reference Seaman?

4. Rather than just picking a destination from a list, VII draws paths between locales and journeying between them puts you at risk for random battles. In cases where there’s not a pre-existing route, you may have to construct a road. They give you a freebie when this concept is first introduced, but I’m not yet far enough yet to observe the difficulty in expanding the roads.

5. Combat is largely the same as in prior games in that on each character’s turn, you move about the battlefield trying to get your enemies within range of your attacks. Whether it be just one or a bunch, you’ll have the opportunity to initiate a string of attacks on your foes, only this time you don’t have an extra defensive bar that needs to be drained before unleashing your big attacks. While this is a bit of a relief in terms of how exhausting it used to be to drain Guard Points, it also blows away some of the strategy that used to be involved. However, since I’m still early in the game, the combat has plenty of time to evolve past simply trading blows and healing, so we’ll see what happens.

6. One thing I do like about the battle system are the team attacks. Your party members are able to spread out on the map, creating an area of effect between them that adversaries can get caught up in. Then, by expending the EXE gauge, a powerful attack is launched, doing mega damage to anyone unlucky enough to find themselves within it. And these attacks can be utilized by two, three, even four of your party members.

7. Even with the team attacks and the lack of guard points, the game can still get really difficult. Most battles try to overwhelm you with sheer numbers, a problem exacerbated if they get the jump on you first. It doesn’t help that save points are spread out and it’s difficult to run from most battles.

8. I’ve gotta say, I’m really impressed with what was done with the visuals this time around. The character models aren’t necessary more detailed or anything, but the engine just seems to run much more smoothly than it did previously. It’s so nice to play a game from this series that doesn’t struggle with its frame rate during normal exploration.

9. The soundtrack is a mix of the old and the new, with much of the returning tracks being played in some of the more familiar areas. The English voice cast is the same as well, which is good since they’re fairly consistent with their performance. Purists may be disappointed in the lack of a Japanese voice over option (or at least one that I could find buried in the menu), though it’s far from a dealbreaker.

10. There’s no Remake System so far, though crafting does play a large role in the experience. Parts found from defeating enemy monsters can be put together and constructed into items which are then made available for sale in the many towns you visit on your journey. Considering how cool it was to be able to tailor your experience by having less difficult enemy encounters, changing item drops and the like, it’d be a real shame if they didn’t accommodate this same purpose just under the guise of a different name.

It’s still early in the game, but Megadimension Neptunia VII makes a lot of improvements over its predecessors in terms of visual performance, team attack abilities and new characters and areas to explore. I think series fans will be delighted, but hopefully the feeling will last for the duration of the adventure.

Megadimension Neptunia VII releases on February 2nd for the Sony PlayStation 4.

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