Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3 (PSVita) Review
Not so much?
Things have been peaceful in Gamindustri for a while, so it’s no wonder that Neptune and Nepgear have been slacking off and playing videogames instead of attending to the needs of the nation of Planeptune. But Neptune’s carefree days are brought to an end when she is catapulted into another dimension – a retro 80s […]
The third and final game of the original Neptunia trilogy – Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory – has joined its sisters in getting the Vita remake treatment, and given that Compile Heart seemed to be hitting their stride with both the original material and the remakes by this point, you’d be forgiven for being optimistic. Unfortunately, for all that Rebirth 3 is a solid and recognisable entry in the Neptunia series, I found myself somewhat disappointed.
Where the other Rebirth games used the battle system from the original Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, this game seems to feel itself duty-bound to mix things up a bit, and so goes about fixing a system that wasn’t really broken. The shared EXE gauge for overpowered special attacks is gone, meaning that every type of magical attack, special attack and transformation is now reliant on a character’s individual SP gauge. It’s probably intended to simplify matters, but instead means that some characters are doomed to spend all their SP on healing and never manage to build up enough to launch any powerful finishers.
It’s also disappointing to see that Compile Heart still haven’t learnt their lesson when it comes to learning curves and game pacing. Rather than the smooth difficulty increase of Rebirth 2, this entry in the series is more like the first Rebirth game, with unexpected jumps in difficulty that force you to go away and grind on tedious sidequests. Having cruised through the early chapters, I suddenly found myself in an area where the normal areas were soundly thrashing me, let alone the boss. Dusting myself off, I went to explore some optional dungeons, only to find myself getting wiped out by enemies who were typically weak and puny in previous entries in the series.
I’ve learnt not to expect too much from the plot of a Neptunia game, and Rebirth 3 is about par for the course, with its light touch, barely coherent plot and overuse of fourth-wall breaking jokes. It does have one thing going for it in the form of new character Plutia/Iris Heart, who is a gentle sleepyhead in her normal form, and a whip-wielding sadist in HDD. Unfortunately, any entertainment she brings to the game is offset by some irritating antagonists – both new and returning – and the game’s infernally slow pace. Well after the point where it felt like I was really getting into the game with the earlier Rebirth titles, Rebirth 3 feels like it’s still crawling along in first gear. Combine that with the fact that practically all of the assets from dungeons and monsters to character models and music have been reused from earlier games, and it’s easy to feel like you’re crawling through the game at glacial pace and never experiencing anything new.
In fact, aside from a slightly more tedious to navigate world map, pretty much everything in this game is something we’ve seen before. There are optional quests to kill monsters and gather items, remake “Plans” that let you unlock new aspects of the game if you collect the right items, and even the return of the Stella’s Dungeon RPG-within-an-RPG, where you set Stella off to explore and bring back items whilst you get on with the main game. The only additions of note are Nepstation, a series of short skits presented as a news report on what the characters are getting up to you, and Challenges, a series of stat bonuses earned for fulfilling certain conditions, such as taking no damage in battle, or getting attacked from behind.
Where the other two Neptunia remakes were much needed overhauls of the original games, Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 3 just feels a bit flat in comparison. With its slow-paced development, difficulty spikes and slightly annoying tweaks to the battle system, this game just isn’t as enjoyable as it might be. If you’re already on the Neptunia bandwagon, you’ll certainly get your fix from this title, but it seems unlikely to be a strong enough title to lure new people into the franchise.