The protagonist of protagonists is back in action! And this time, Nep and the gang is upping the antics in the VR dimension. Developed by Compa (Compile Heart) and published by Iffy (Idea Factory), the CPUs’ are now in glorious VR goggles in a “one on one” yet one-sided conversation of Goddess Counseling 101. As the player psychiatrist of sorts, your job is to listen to whatever their problems are while simply answering with a YES or NO while being glued to one place. Along with some drastic UI changes and a re-imagined turn-based battle mechanics that would even flip Blanc’s skirt wide open as she winds up for a spinning attack. Let’s go dive deep in the world of the console girls as they try to get casually sucked in a whole bunch of trouble in between dimensions!
Here we find Neptune in her natural habitat… not a spooky back alley but her usual running away from her duties bit! As she was lazing around in a park, she heard a “splat!” from the back alley and just like a nosy protagonist, she goes in without any idea on the events that will unfold. That was probably just a back-door drug deal but who cares about that right? As she arrives no one was there but all of a sudden she heard a cry for help. But what followed after was her discovery of an unknown console and that very distinct white and orange color scheme and a swirl mark like a “naruto ricecake.”
In the end she heads back home with the said console. She starts it up with her sister Nepgear and got sucked right in after a vortex popped out from the foreground. Not long after they woke up in a post-apocalyptic land with almost no one else in sight! ALMOST! But as her protagonist senses tingle, they noticed a girl surrounded by monsters and saved her. Only to find out a few mini cutscenes later that she’s Uzume Tennouboshi, the cool yet daydreamer girl with a megaphone for a weapon. JUST BECAUSE… shouting is the best way to kill monsters. What follows after is…
I’ll Nep-nep You! The glorious combat, re-imagined!
It is without a doubt that the franchise has been notorious for letting kids fight grotesque monsters over the past titles and this is no exception. Here we have the whole Nep-gang and with some new waifu prospects follow the new battle mechanics that was implemented. From a floating monster catfish to something as cute as a Tokimeki event screen enemy!
It is also worth mentioning that SAVE POINTS are a thing of the past generation as the game now fully utilizes auto-saving with the exclusion of RANK CHALLENGES which is a whole different story and is one way to get even better equipment at the post-game content.
Possibly one of the biggest changes to the battle mechanics has been a complete removal of an EXE Gauge which was used for EXEcuting partner and formation skills along with the HDD transformations. Combo attacks has been re-designed to a tab you can set within encounters instead of having to set them in corresponding buttons for Enchant, Power or Rush attacks. But to coincide with all that is the introduction of the Action Points Meter (AP) which is used for pretty much any action aside from switching partners and normal guarding.
AP is now the key element to the battles as it dictates how many types of actions you can perform in a single turn. From something as simple as using an item, a special skill, a partner or formation skill, a combo chain, or even HDD forms. With every encounter you start out with full HP however AP and of course SP meters starts at zero which only increases as your turn arises.
With the removal of an EXE Gauge, the only way to start a partner and formation skill would now depend on the AP and SP meter which both parties are required to have. Not only that, but because of the drastic changes, it is now possible to use consecutive formation skills as long as your AP and SP permits it.
With the recent changes in the way we use combo skill chains, even something as simple as doing combo attacks requires AP so overkilling an enemy in a barrage of rush attacks to build up EXE Gauge is a major No-No. But instead it is now possible to combo an enemy and turn to the next using a different set of combo attacks all in the same turn that is of course if you have tons of AP to spare or you hit so hard it’s not even funny anymore. While the types of combos that can be used in a chain is set depending on the weapon currently equipped by the character, as each type of weapon has different color-coded skill slots that would pertain to the different types of combo attacks available. These will be RUSH as Green, POWER as Purple and ENCHANT as Red. And depending on the weapon, it can have as little as two skill slots to as much as five while armor provides one to three skill slots with the different ways in which you can defend for your life, counter-attack or simply provoke them to focus their attention on the tank instead of everyone else.
As you probably guessed by now, HDD will be using AP instead of the forgotten EXE Gauge. And with that comes a multitude of ways of injecting pain to unsuspecting foes as you transform and even go to the NEXT Form in a single turn before using a special skill right after. NEXT Form for the CPUs also come in with their unique special skills but after its use reverts you back to your untransformed state.
Grinding… and even more GRINDING!
It is without a doubt that the game has focused so much on grinding even in the earlier titles and of course it’s time to one up that! From the usual way of learning skills via level up it is now completely reliant on cold hard cash and by that I mean in-game credits to even learn such skills. And with that in mind, it’s one hell of a gold sink as each individual’s skills, combos, coupling passives, defensive states, or even something as item upgrades require to be learned in order to use them but don’t fret fellow players as you won’t even use much of the skills that much, probably!
Battle Points are now even a thing just like old MMOs where you put skill points and stat points to fully customize the way you play a certain class. While it doesn’t really apply that much difference, it does however give you that extra boost to power. BP can be obtained in a multitude of ways from simply leveling up or achieving a certain character challenge from jumping a number of times to even posing at the end of every battle. Which is similar to Fairy Fencer when it comes to the types of challenges they bring.
Now it’s time for the sweet loots that even Nep-Nep can agree to. Each and every piece of gear from weapons, to armor, even something like costumes and accessories can be fully ranked up to access higher stats and a full on rarity system at which gives a better overall from Rare to Super Rare and Ultra Rare. While this makes the grind even more hectic to get those Ultra Rares, especially since most of them are dropped by Rank Challenge Bosses which in turn can only be unlocked through scouting in dungeons after fulfilling the specific requirements in making hidden treasures appear. THEN and ONLY THEN will you be able to challenge the boss within it. Sounds like a whole new level in the pain index… better get Coyote Peterson in on it for the sting zone!
But then again, there’s always that way of crafting a ton of the same type of weapons and hoping for an Ultra Rare… that is of course if you have that much spare materials for it because as I’ve mentioned there’s no SAVE POINTS and the moment you do anything means you’re already in the middle of an AUTO-SAVE.
No VR? No Life!
And here we are the feature that made the title change! The VR Dimension which is a glorified VR Experience that has been a very one-sided exchange of words. First and foremost, each VR event with a single character has been pre-determined with a set of motion and responses to your YES or NO that has little to no effect whatsoever on the next event that may happen. Not only that you can neither stand nor move around your starting position as you just look around, nod and even stare at virtual “oppai” which I don’t particularly hate but the conversations themselves feel a little lonesome with the lack of other characters to enhance the comedy routines. Which is in fact why I love the main story more than the actual battles altogether.
And while it does say it’s a PS VR Compatible game, it doesn’t fully require it as it can be fully experienced even with your controller and by using your thumbsticks to control the camera angles as well as the minimal interaction required for each event. Pfft!
BUT of course for everyone that, for some reason, actually withstood the gruesome and somewhat uninteresting skits that happen in the VR Dimension, we get VR goodies! Your average Neptunia merchandise from Limited edition Boxes, to even every characters’ plushies or maybe some wall posters and of course purple furniture!!! Heck, that’s it? Well there’s more but honestly, I was expecting even more stuffs to add in my virtual room and to make things unique from the rest of the players but NO! Here we have only one of each item to place on the different parts of the room that has a Planeptune theme going on. Forget about a black Lastation-themed room, or a greenish Leanbox-specific room filled with fujoshi artworks or probably a room filled with Ninte-… a bunch of kiddie type merch closely similar to Lowee and Blanc’s kiddie type breasts.
Talking about breasts… I mean!! Kiddie type merch, here we see Blanc within a dungeon closely similar to Mario Land in 3D! But course the turtles look more ferocious than your average Mario game sprites or the plum-mets that actually attacks you ‘til you faint! The graphics are out there… and honestly the pantsu is on a different level of detail! And the game is filled with it… and of course I’m talking about real life references and fourth wall breaking moments. Because nothing beats a good joke about Vert’s unusual love for her huge rack and Blanc’s insecurities with hers. Just like XBO-… is packing some huge meat in that hardware while Ninte-… definitely needs more of it LOL!
It’s a game filled with story, humor, some fan-service to please the audience and of course content after end credits. The new battle system makes the game fresh and with the new content to go through as well as a ton of grinding that may take hours, to days, to even months just to get those sweet rares! Scouting has also never been this important, from your average Rank Challenge unlockables as well as your way of obtaining materials to be used for crafting the different types of enhancing items for your equipment so it is now my priority to set them whenever possible. While the VR elements has been a letdown for me, the others I’ve mentioned is more than enough to keep me from playing for more hours after the story has been set to a close. And of course RANK CHALLENGES is set up as an online leaderboard type of content to challenge the top players in beating the highest difficulty achieved for that sweet bragging rights!
But as far as worthiness in the price tag and considering that others have already owned the base game or what others prefer to call it as the vanilla version. I have to say it’s still worth it just for the kind of fun you get from playing around with the new battle mechanics along with the rare items you can get from doing the challenges or crafting.