Despite my dedication and interest in the franchise, I still find the Neptunia Re;Birth trilogy to be a very temperamental collection of JRPGs that are, and I’m not sure the developers even realize this, are… pretty poorly designed. Re;Birth1 was a massive improvement in comparison to the awful original Hyperdimension Neptunia for PS3. Re;Birth2 was a better game in theory, but it had so many repetitive, temperamental, and annoying elements that I quickly dropped it after beating the game. While Re;Birth3 is probably the best of the bunch, but even I couldn’t convince myself to go through the post game content due to a plethora of issues.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation Review
Platforms: PS Vita, PC(Reviewed)
Developers: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, and Felistella
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Those problems start with the plot, which very quickly takes the player outside of the already fairly confusing world of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 and places them into another GamIndustri altogether. The setting is now based in 1989 and ideally a loose adaptation of the Game Industry up until the current day takes place with certain liberties inserted for the sake of originality and viability of the plot. However, as is clear from the other Neptunia games, the relationship to the proper game industry is rather loose. True, character represent consoles and companies, but that is about it. Well, aside from some obscure references the game enjoys to insert every now and then, and I mean obscure. Sure, they will put in something easy like a reference to Mario Kart, Ys’ tenure on the PC Engine, or Golden Axe, but I have no clue what an Old Train is suppose to represent about the Mega Drive.
Putting that aside and viewing the game as its own original property, the story is the same old shenanigans from the first two. A goofy and lighthearted script, tropey but enjoyable and well portrayed characters, along with a few new ones. Some enjoyable, some a unnecessary to the plot and not all that entertaining, and some who are enjoyable, but have aspects about them that left me annoyed due to the traits the writing focuses on. It is still funny when it wants to be, and it wants to be quite often, but it also feels very familiar, and with the first two games still fairly fresh in my minds, it often feels like going through the motions, but receiving diminishing returns. Not helped by how so many dialog scenes meander for far longer than they need to.
This can most certainly be applied to the gameplay of the Neptunia games, or at least the model used in all the Re;Birth games. The combat is fine in theory, maneuver characters around a large space, lock enemies in your range, and then enter an attack combo who you mix three different attack types depending on the situation. However, in practice, I grew very accustomed to pressing the same attack button, pressing LB to skip the five animations are part of every basic attack. Then use a special attack next turn, as you regained SP by using your normal attack. Rinse, and then repeat about three-thousand times. It is never really hard beyond optional bosses, but they aren’t challenging due to interesting strategies, they just have a lot of health and deal a lot of damage.
There is an attempt to make combat more interesting through the implementation of a character based challenge system, which involves doing action X a total of Y times in order to receive passive bonuses such as stat boosts or new attacks However, this mechanic is both irritating and a colossal time sink devoid of any true substance. Such as running 5,000,000 meters, use 10,000 items in battle, barely win 1,000 battles, kill 50,000 enemies, and so forth, for every character. But the cherry on top is the fact that there are 3 characters who only appear in the last chapter, making them comparatively worthless, and a total of 18 DLC characters, most of which I believe are objectively worse than the 10 non-DLC characters.
You can thankfully ignore this mechanic despite the inevitable pop-ups that appear every time you receive a milestone and a reward with it. Same thing with the Remake system, which I spat acid at in the past, but it is thankfully a far better system than it once was. In the prior two titles, this collection of bonuses for dungeon changes, optional areas, gameplay changes, costumes, required the use of a spreadsheet before due to the sheer volume of resources needed to unlock these bonuses. Now you can simply look up the resource’s location, which is a major godsend. Mind you, it still is very firmly not fun to hunt for these resources, nor is it enjoyable to unlock and then buy a hat for the ludicrous amount of 1,500,000 credit, and I wish this feature was removed. But still, what’s shown here is a massive improvement by and large.
I wish I could say that about the port, but Re;Birth3 runs the worst out of all the PC Neptunia titles. Despite my PC being fully couple, and my CPU being well above the recommended, the frame rate often dipped beneath 20fps, and almost never ran at 60fps when inside a dungeon. I troubleshooted the issue, but was unable to find any solution, and the developers have not patched the game since its release three weeks ago.
Does the game look good beyond that? Well, not good enough for me to understand these technical impairments. While the player character models are nice and detailed, if a little too familiar at this point, much of the game was clearly never made to be viewed at anything beyond the Vita’s resolution, as environmental details can look blurred. But the worst part of this visually, and what can likely be used to attribute a lot about the diminishing returns this game offers, is the fact that just about everything from the prior Neptunia games is featured here from outfits, weapons, animations, environments, enemy models, resource names, and even the voice clips. Resources are recycled in the game itself, and its guise at adding value ultimately adds nothing.
I will say that if you could properly dig into and rework this trilogy, you could produce some ultimately quality JRPGs out of them by removing about half the content. There are so many minor and major improvements that could and should be made to these games, these remakes, but instead, they are games that I honestly struggle to openly recommend after investing over 200 hours into these three games. I truly do want to love this series, and I hope the upcoming Megadimension Neptunia VII improves as much as I heard it does. However, if you want to venture into the realm of Nep-Nep, I would only recommend trying Re;Birth3, as I may have felt immense diminishing returns while playing, and it does have its own problems, but it’s still the best of the trilogy.