I want to admit right from the beginning that I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the Neptunia series of games. I often find them full of useless fluff and lacking a lot of depth to their games. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed doesn’t do a lot to quell my need for more depth. What it does do though, is take out a lot of the needless banter and allow you to just kick the hell out of everything in sight. It’s not an overly great game, but this is the direction I think this series needs to go to be a better franchise.
Normally, at this part of a review I would tell you about the story and what you’re playing, but there really isn’t one here. Characters Famitsu and Dengekiko are trying to land exclusives with the CPUs and their candidates. In order to get these great stories, the two writers must travel along with all of the CPUs and CPU candidates out into the world and take on quests. As I said earlier, the side banter is kept to a minimum and really most of it is forgettable anyway, so it’s all good. The story itself was cute at times, but really took a backseat to questing.
Action Unleashed takes us away from its RPG roots and is really more of an action game similar to Dynasty Warriors. The major difference being that while DW has a lot of structure and depth to it’s missions, Action Unleashed is extremely short and sweet.
Everything, for better or worse, revolves around taking on quests over and over again. The formula is to accept a quest with requirements and doing it with certain participants. The quests rarely break from that, with a few item fetch quests sprinkled in and the occasional red quest which does not tell you how to win. In these red missions, it’s trial and error until you complete it, though mostly it still boils down to killing certain enemies.
Thankfully the combat itself and also the characters are really well done. Each of the eight playable girls have their own distinctive fighting style. For example, you have Blanc who is an up close bruiser, and then Uni, who deals damage from distance with her gun. In combat, you basically have a weak and heavy attack, coupled with special moves that you can pull off once you fill up your SP gauge. There is also the ability to turn into your HDD counterpart, doing double the damage to enemies. Players will also have the ability to unleash a deadly EXE attack that does massive damage to everyone on screen.
The clothing mechanic of almost every Vita game lately makes an appearance in Action Unleashed. Here, the mechanic works as you take damage and then of course, have your girls’ clothes fall off in a fit of rage…exposing the gamer to panties and undergarments. It’s a bit off-putting that you have no ability until later in the game to turn off this clothes-ripping, girls-moaning part of the battle. It would have been nice to turn off the animation through a menu option, however you must wait until you unlock certain outfits that are indestructible. Or if you really like the clothes falling off, you can put on outfits to have it happen more frequently.
Once you’ve completed Chapter 3 of the campaign, which takes roughly 10-12 hours, you’ll unlock the Gamindustri Gauntlet. Here, you create your own 10-fighter tournaments, NCAA style. This 1v1 battle between the CPUs, candidates, writers, and their HDD counterparts might sound fun in theory, but it’s honestly rather rubbish. With no ability to block, you are really left to just dodge and spam the attack buttons endlessly.
It’s nice to try and break up the questing of the main game, but it’s a rather boring addition. Now, after you complete one tournament, you can also unlock the Neptral Tower. In this mode, you simply select one or two characters and work your way floor by floor to the top. This mode is extremely random, as you jump from level 8 enemies on one floor to level 48 enemies on the next. It’s not a terrible mode but it feels just like a tacked on addition that serves no purpose.
During battle in the main campaign or Neptral Tower, you will be able to collect medals from the enemies you defeat. These medals, which are seperated by the type of enemy, can then be redeemed for perks such as increased HP for your characters, and also to unlock new weapons. This element ties the modes together and gives you a good reason to keep fighting. You also are able to collect different outfits and accessories which can be used to improve your characters stats.
One area where Action Unleashed really shines is in the presentation. This is a really vibrant and colorful game, full of wacky enemies and interesting levels. The UI is also really well done and the game plays at an extremely fluid framerate that never has any real issues. On the audio side of things, I just can’t say enough about this soundtrack. It all starts with a great opening cinematic song and is carried over into the battle music that feels fun and energetic. It really is a great piece of video game music to listen to while running around and causing destruction.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a game that doesn’t really provide anything new to the genre. The questing formula is pretty basic and repetitive, with the other two unlockable modes providing little relief. It is a game that doesn’t keep you engaged for long, but while it does have you there, it provides good entertainment. The combat is a lot of fun in small bits, the soundtrack is top notch, and it’s a great travel game to help you pass the time. It’s not the best game, but it’s a good start for hopefully a new direction in this video game series.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.