Spin-off titles have now become part of the gaming industry, so much so that if one were to gather all games which are spin-offs from their proper titles, there would be quite the collection. These games, the majority of which features a plot irrelevant to the main story especially in consequent games, feature some new gameplay element or a new gameplay system altogether. Hyperdevotion Noire is a title which while changing quite fundamentally the mechanics in the game, still feels like the good old Hyperdimension games.
For starters, Hyperdevotion Noire, as the title shows, centres Noire at the core of its tale, instead of Neptune like normal Hyperdimension titles. The game revolves around Noire and the world of Gamarket, which is not Gamindustri but is fairly similar and follows the latter’s lore, being that it is divided into four regions each controlled by a CPU. In the game, which starts with the four CPUs fighting for supremacy of all the territory of Gamarket, Noire is approached by an entity who claims to be able to grant Noire control over all Gamarket, but reveals to be a scam, which puts all the region in panic mode and has all the generals rebelling against each other, thus ruining the normal order of the different regions. At this stage, the four CPUs in charge of the four regions unite their power and start a journey with the aim of making Gamarket a harmonious place once again.
Hyperdevotion Noire is a turn-based strategy RPG, which is quite similar to the normal Hyperdimension gameplay but here one cannot move around or combine a variety of combos, but instead you just move a unit and then attack through regular attacks or skills, which use Skill Points, use items or any other action which can be performed by that unit. The game does not feature normal characters but uses chibi versions instead, which are smaller, almost childlike versions of the cast. Even if the game is essentially a spin-off, it incorporates quite a lot of strategy mechanics, such as the fact that characters have a predetermined range for their attacks, thus already the player is challenged to find the best position from which to take action. Being able to move before or after your action is also a key mechanic in the game, mostly due to the Lily Point system, a core gameplay element which will be discussed further on in this review. For now it is enough to note that the movement prior or after actions is vital in making the most of Lily Points gained. Another strategic element of the game is the fact that the orientation of the characters will change their route. Initially this will not be a very important factor but as the game progresses and traps begin to surface in the environment, one needs to maximize his movement while at the same time evade the traps which do considerable damage.
As mentioned beforehand, the Lily Point system is a very important element in the game and must thus be used to one’s advantage in overcoming opponents. Basically, when casting a skill while being near a number of party members, or even one, the move is powered up, the Skill Points required are decreased and a meter known as the Lily Points meter will fill a little. The more characters you are surrounded with when performing the skill, the more LP you will earn. These Lily Points can then be used to unleash Special Moves, which are the most powerful attacks that each character has, and which most of the times will inflict a negative ailment on the enemy. There may be some Special Moves which are a buff to allies, such as Ai Masujima, a character who you will meet around the middle of the game. There is virtually no limit to the number of special moves you can do, unless the Lily Meter runs out of course. Performing these special moves close to allies, like Skill Points, will diminish the LP needed to access these attacks, thus further increasing the amount of thinking and strategizing one needs to do before moving the pieces around.
The game is rather easy to understand initially, with the commands not being overly complicated. As the game progresses, it becomes gradually more difficult, and a full-offense approach will not do most of the times. Hyperdevotion also has a small focus on items, and just like Hyperdimension titles features Disc Development and Item Development, which work exactly like Hyperdimension. I have rarely, if ever, used as much items as I have in this game, and to be honest it is a good thing, since if they are available for purchase, they must serve a scope in the game.
The main hub of the game, the place where to access the main campaign missions, is full of other components which give the game more items to enjoy and to maybe take a break from the strategic gameplay. The previously mentioned item and disc development can be accessed from here, as well as the Basilicom, a sort of community room which you as Noire’s secretary help decorate by spending Sim Points, a currency generated each time you spend normal credits at the rate of 10 to 1. The Basilicom also features a sort of fan mail from people asking Noire for advice, and you have to decide about what to do and see if she agrees. It all makes for a cute little break from the normal course of action.
Graphically the game is gorgeous, and each character is uniquely beautiful and different from one another, and considering a cast of over 20 characters, this is quite a remarkable feat. These characters also show different personalities, and the major four are quite developed as the story progresses, making for quite an entertaining and involving journey, and with Neptune cracking some jokes every so often, dialogue between characters become a joy to behold. The fact that all characters are parodies of famous games and discovering each little by little as the story unfolds is also a neat touch. For example the second Lid appears, a girl wearing a bandana and full of tactical talk, complete with red exclamation mark on her chest, a huge reference to Metal Gear Solid is implied. Coupled with the fact that one of her skills involves hiding under a box the link is inevitable to detect. The cutscenes are acted out in standard talking portraits featuring the normal characters, but battles, as mentioned beforehand, are carried out by chibi versions of the characters. As far as sound goes, the game has a great soundtrack, featuring tracks from other Hyperdimension titles as well as new tracks of the game. Tracks can also be unlocked through progression and listened in the CPU Hotel, a sort of gallery within the game which grants access to Music, Cutscenes and Images, the latter taken from cutscenes where something unusual happens such as a beauty contest.
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a great game, which becomes incredibly addicting the more you play it. Apart from looking awesome on the Vita screen, it plays just as well, which proves to be a killer combination. Taking a break from the frenetic action of normal Hyperdimension games and making players take time to think moves over, series fans may have discovered yet another game which deserves their attention.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.