Game Reviews

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Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a strange and unique spin-off addition tothe quirky game industry themedRPG series Hyperdimension Neptunia. Hyperdevotion Noire is a grid based tactical role playing game unlike the rest of the series which tends to allow free movement during a character’s turn. While there are many titles in the Neptunia series this is the only one in which the characters are in a disproportionate chibi style. Hyperdevotion Noire focuses on the character Noire who is the goddess Black Heart and leader of Lastation. Most of the series keeps the spot light on the original heroine of the series who is known as Neptune or Nep-Nep as many of the other characters call her. Hyperdevotion Noire has differences from the rest of the titles in the series which is what makes the game stand apart so much. The original Japanese release of the game was published late May 2014 exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. A year after the Japanese release Hyperdevotion Noire was localized to North America also as a PlayStation Vita exclusive. Now with the scheduled release of the game to Steam late April 2016 the game will no longer be PlayStation Vita exclusive and will now be available to PC gamers world-wide. The Steam version of the game will come with Steam Achievements and Steam card drops much like the previous Steam ports from the Neptunia series.

The game’s story begins in Gamarket where the four goddesses have moved their battle for dominion over Gamindustri. Noire who is the goddess Black Heart become only steps away from winning the battle but things take a turn for the worst and the battle must once again be put on hold to save the world. Gamarket suddenly becomes flooded by monsters and during the chaos Noire attempts to eliminate the monsters but finds that she is suddenly unable to use her powers. When Noire begins to lose hope and wonders what to do someone appears and helps restore her confidence and she becomes able to use her powers to defend Gamarket. It is soon discovered that the goddesses lost their powers due to a mistake which Noire herself had made and she must do everything she can to fix the problem. One of her first battles with the grid based systems is against the other goddesses Neptune, Blanc, and Vert while she attempts to convince them to work together with her. The goddesses must put their differences aside and once again put their battle for dominion on hold in order to once again restore balance to the world. The goddesses work together to complete a variety of tasks which are necessary in order to unite and restore balance to Gamarket.

 

There are many gameplay aspects that are unique from the rest of the Neptunia series including the grid based battle system itself. The keyboard controls can be severely confusing at first but the game becomes much easier once you are either able to change the controls or figure out the preset controls. While the game controls and the many unique gameplay systems seem simple enough it is actually quite frustrating to figure them out at first even for those of us who have played all of the other games in the series. The complicated controls can make earlier battles into an annoying experience. The look of the grid based battle field itself isn’t too different from those of other tactical RPGs but it is simplified due to the fact that it features a smaller number of larger sized squares. The character movement is still limited depending on their MOV stat and there are ways to increase the stat such as setting Noire as the leader. Each character has their own unique party bonuses when they are set as the leader so this part requires a bit of thought. The combat does have its issues and many have referred to the battle system as being too simple. It is particularly simple in comparison to the extensive grid based battle systems of games such as Fire Emblem Fates, Disgaea, and Stella Glow. The battle system may not be as complicated as it is in other games but it at least manages to meet minimum expectations.

The quality of the game’s art is all over the place from its high quality character art during conversations between characters to its messy and disproportionate chibi style character avatars in battle. Unfortunately, the quality of the chibi avatars in battle fails to meet the standard created by the more vibrant and high quality art during conversation scenes. The chibi style could have been cute and interesting but it didn’t turn out quite right. The chibi style they chose also failed to mesh well with the battle animations but the issue fortunately only affects the quality of battles. Thankfully, the art styles of the backgrounds and conversation images of the characters remain high quality and match the rest of the series. The character animations outside of battle maintain the standard set by the rest of the series as well. The facial expressions of the characters remain as extreme and fun to see as usual which helps the game maintain the more humorous feel set by the original Hyperdimension Neptunia.

 

While I wanted to enjoy the game it had quite a few issues when it comes to controls and battle. I can still highly recommend the game to those who are more interested in the dialogue and humor rather than the battle system or overall gameplay quality. The controls are a bit difficult to understand at first and this game is definitely not for beginners to the RPG genre. The style of the chibi characters in battle may bit a bit hard to look at for fans who put focus on the quality of the games graphics. The graphics and animations outside of battle are high quality and maintains the standard set by the rest of the series which evens things out. Taking all aspects of gameplay into consideration the game managed to at least maintain average gameplay value.

 

Pros: Different Lead Heroine, Catchy Soundtrack, Unique

Cons: Difficult Controls, Lackluster Story, Mediocre Battle System

SCORE – 6.5/10

This review is based on a digital copy of Hyperdevotion Noire on Steam provided by Idea Factory International.

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