Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Review

20160428170204_1This is the fifth Neptunia game I’m reviewing after going over the PC ports of Re;Birth1, Re;Birth2, Re;Birth3, and U, and my expectations for what these games will deliver have been set.  Serviceable gameplay, rampant recycling of the same assets, and a cheesy story peppered with enjoyable characters and a sense of humor that I can’t help but love on some level.  With this being an Strategy RPG spin-off I wasn’t expecting much, and those expectations were met.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Review
Platforms: Playstation Vita and PC(Reviewed)
Developers: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, and Sting
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Specifications: Intel i7-4790, 16GB of RAM, R9 390, Windows 10

Taking place in the alternate universe of Gamemarket, Hyperdevotion Noire centers around its titular analog for Sony consoles dominating the entire world, and ensuring victory, at least until the recurring antagonist Arfoire Eno misdirects her in order to send Gamemarket into chaos.  This forces the four console-representing goddesses of the world to ban together in order to save it from anarchy.  They do this by capturing cities led by generals, who are all themed after specific game franchises.  In turn allowing for the series’ more oddball sense of humor to bounce off of new characters, at least when the story remembers to shine the spotlight away from the main four.20160428201022_1

Yes, the scenarios, scenes, and set pieces are all appropriately humorous and enjoyable, serving yet again as the main draw for this series.  Gaming humor is more prevalent this time around, and I came to genuinely enjoy the new cast of characters as characters.  That is, excluding the player surrogate character that is Noire’s male secretary.  A character who is forgotten about half the time, makes minimal contributions to the storyline, and has an incredibly uninteresting personality of being a fairly nice and courteous young man who develops a close relationship with the titular protagonist.  I don’t quite understand why they even exist, but then again I’m confused whenever a male character is shown to exist in the multiverse of Neptune and friends.20160426175244_1

Nevertheless, there are enough enjoyable, stupid, or simply funny scenes to keep me going.  As for the gameplay, much like with Neptunia U, Hyperdevotion delivers what it needs to and little else.  It’s a pretty standard SRPG affair wherein you move a cast of colorful characters abouta grid, manipulating the space around you, enemy lines of sight, and trying to do so as effectively as possible in case there is a criteria that must be met.  

While doing this, you’re both encouraged and rewarded to maintain a rigid structure with your units.  Keep them all perpendicular to each other so characters will support each other with a kiss on the cheek that makes special moves do more damage, take less SP, and generate LP to unleash theoretically devastating super move.  Keep this strategy up while compensating for varied but uninspired stage hazards, and the game is effectively won.20160429211723_1

At least until you realize that the enemy lines of sight are based on their regular attack range, and many of them have skills that could easily demolish your tightly maintained block of party members, potentially taking down half of them in a single move.  Or as I experienced once, every single party member with a single move that dealt more than every party member’s maximum HP, even though I was adequately leveled.  

Yes, Hyperdevotion is not the most balanced of games, and it certainly does not feel fair when the difficulty takes an unexpected spike.  As such, I felt no shame in doing my usual thing in these sorts of games and rotate my saves as best I could in order to prevent an unfavorable outcome and game over.  Which is a lot harder when you only have one quick save slot to work with.20160501092931_1

Aside from the difficulty, there are plenty of minor things that began irritating me as I powered through this game.  The token elemental system that is used more to open chests than it is to deal damage.  The linear and often small maps that limit your choices in strategy to only one.  And the return of the plan system from the Re;Birth games, except now it’s somehow more cryptic.  Above all of this, there’s something notoriously slow about this game even when skipping through enemy actions and the animation for your skills.  The exact reason stems from a variety of shortcomings that had me pull out Fire Emblem Awakening for the sake of comparison, only to be amazed at how expedient and efficient the combat was.20160426171239_1

All of this is presented with a lot of recycled enemies, environments, and 2D assets from the prior games, but instead of using scaled down character models for the playable characters, they are represented in low-polygon chibi-characatures complete with weird wiggly baby breasts.  A decision I assume to be a technical one above all else, as it really doesn’t work.  There’s nothing about the game that’s any more or less lighthearted than other entries, and the proportions don’t sit well with me.  Especially since characters are still represented normally in dialog scenes, allowing me to bask in certain characters’ designs, as they will probably never appear in another Neptunia game.20160501185335_1

Hyperdevotion Noire is another Neptunia game, and another technically serviceable game.  One that is only mostly redeemed by its fast gameplay, fun characters, enjoyable writing, and talented voice actors who help to create an enjoyable little romp.  Except this time the negatives are far more prevalent.  Despite all of the clear effort that was put into this game by Sting, Idea Factory, and Compile Heart, I had less fun with Hyperdevotion Noire than any other game in the series.  It’s slow, humdrum, and the only reason I went through as much of it as I did was to get this review out and see more of Nep-Nep, Tsundere Playstation-tan, Metal Gear-tan, sleepy Angol Mois, and the rest of the game gals.  20160429205859_1

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