Megadimension Neptunia VIIR Review – Nep It to a New Dimension (PS4)
Are you a fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series of games? Ever wish you could interact with your favorite Gameindustri CPU face-to-face in VR? Or perhaps you never considered that possibility. Either way, Compile Heart and Idea Factory have re-released Megadimension Neptunia VII on the PlayStation 4.
Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is a re-release that sees the addition of the VR functionality, but also slight improvements to gameplay and graphics thanks to the use of new game and rendering engines. The upgrade in graphics was probably necessary to achieve a better VR experience. Considering most of the adventure is experienced in regular 2D display mode, though, the graphical upgrades aren’t likely to be noticed by most players. The various worlds the story takes place in are usually full of color and feature a variety of landscapes. But the usual trappings of traditional JRPGs show up here: boxed-in worlds surrounded by skybox don’t do much to help sell the idea that the player is in a huge world, while environment graphics leave a bit to be desired in terms of detail level.
Audio work in Megadimension Neptunia VIIR remains the same as before – core story cutscenes feature full voice work, while less important cutscenes involve plenty of text to read instead. The soundtrack is light and upbeat, except during dramatic moments where the mood is set a little darker, and overall it’s about what you’d expect to hear in an RPG.
A VR Tease
Gameplay hasn’t really changed much since the original. There are sixteen characters to put on a team of up to four, each of which can be powered up to two new, more powerful forms if conditions are right. Since this is a re-release of sorts, those who have finished the original are unlikely to be surprised when playing through this version. A couple of new formations help to give more attack options, but none that drastically change the game.
Virtual Reality is still a nascent technology, full of promise. While many developers are ready and willing to hop on the latest, hottest trend, sometimes it can be difficult to come up with an innovative idea. It can be a little too tempting to take a successful game, and just shoehorn odd-fitting tech into it. Merely taking the original Megadimension Neptunia VII, shifting its camera, and slapping a VR sticker onto the packaging would likely have resulted in a much worse game, because it was not originally designed for VR.
What developer Compile Heart came up with was a single mode called VR Stories. In this mode, the player can interact with any of the game’s CPU characters in a limited setting. Between cutscenes during the main campaign, special VR scenes play out in an average-looking room. The various characters enter the player’s room via a magic portal, walk around, compliment the player on their manga and video game collections in true fantasy form, and then leave in a few short minutes. The only real interaction in this mode comes from the player literally shaking their head yes or no at certain points in the characters’ ramblings. The scenes generally have nothing to do with the main story, which makes sense when you consider that these were made well after the original Megadimension Neptunia VII launched in 2015 in Japan. Big fans of the series will probably get a kick out of seeing their favorite CPU up close and in their face, but otherwise the small level of interaction will leave most players wanting something more involved. The player can swap out some items in their room, to customize the experience slightly, but other than that, it’s pretty barebones.
Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is recommended for fans of the original. But tacked-on VR scenes won’t do much for those looking for new and exciting experiences. The new tweaks to some systems help to give players more tactical options, but this is essentially the same game that launched in 2016, in a prettier package. For the diehard Neptunia fanatics, that’ll be all they need to buy in. However, for $20 less, the original release is available sans VR play and without slight graphics upgrades.