Review: 'Megadimensional Neptunia' (PS4)

Ever since 2010, Hyperdimension Neptunia has kept a steady pace of games coming out in a variety of platforms. In five years 11 games, spinoffs and remakes have come out. So how does a series keep something fresh for it's PS4 debut? We go to a different dimension – and the results are pretty great.

Story: Going off the unique parallels between the real world and the fictional land Gameindustri, CPUs are coming in force, threatening Gameindustri as we know it (Get it?). True to the title, the game soon drops you down into another dimension (Zero Dimension), where Neptune and co. soon find a greater evil. Overall he story isn't bad. Some dialogue is repetitive, especially during fight sequences. But teaming up with someone you oppose to face a greater evil is always a great story, and it happens here – through the Neptunia JRPG fighting style.

As the first of the series for the PS4, Megadimension Neptunia performed quite well. Controls were simple enough. Fighting is the simple turn based, extended animation hits of the JRPG, while dialogue screens are, well, dialogue screens. They stuck with what worked and carried it over. Could they have gotten risky and tried some new control options? Yeah, but nothing is broke, so why fix it? It's exactly on par with it's predecessors.

I'm split on the graphics. As a long time player of these games, and games like it, it has the same split between times of action and times of dialogue. During dialogue the graphics are amazing. The art is beautiful, with enough natural movement (swaying, blinking, etc.) to make you feel like you're in a playable anime. On the other hand the graphics really jut out. There is charm with simplicity, but with Megadimension it's a little off-putting. Background and earth textures are amazing and lifelike, but characters and creatures come out and you feel like a PS3 character invaded your PS4 game. Early on it was acceptable, but it's getting more and more weirder. Don't get me wrong – your body moves and your hair and everything moves in the right way – graphically that's fine. But it's how they move – it feels like it's on a loop and blocky. For a game several years ago this would have been fine, but being an obvious video game character with those kinds of backgrounds and natural graphics is a huge mismatch. It still feels like a JRPG, but some of that comes from adopting some questionable graphics choices (staying still n a loop when waiting for attack for one). Overall it's not bad, but it can use some more modernization during times of action.

The soundtrack and sound are fun. It keeps that upbeat, semi-techno music as a default, but it also goes into serious music (some reminding me of 'Lost's' Michael Giacchino) that combines slight Japanese flairs and little 80's style riffs) and into nice little actiony bits. The sounds can be repetitive too. Characters getting hit or calling their attacks never change inflection. There are limitations to how much can be said, I understand. But some variance would have been nice. It's all clear, crisp and on the mark of the action (some of the music outros even synching up nice with the soundtrack) and if you can stand hearing some of the same lines of dialogue during attacks, it works great.

Mechanics are also up and up. Attack animations do get tiring to look at over and over again since they are exactly the same, and some character models seem clunky. But, despite those, it all flows cleanly. A swing looks, and feels, like a swing. It matches up to what you press. And besides some graphics where they clip through each other or the dialogue button not responding a few times, there were no glitches or problems. Mechanics worked well, as they did with other games in the series.

Megadimension is a unique spin on the ever-growing franchise – it's still finding new things to do from what was seen as a narrow concept. The art for 3D characters needs to improve, as they look, again, out of place in a game that has otherwise great artwork. You don;t want a PS2 character coming in all the sudden. But with a good story, fun storylines and otherwise great game features, Megadimension is a pretty good game. Fans will love it, JRPG players will get a kick out of it and people who like manga will appreciate it. I had fun playing it, and if you have a PS4 and are looking for a game to relax to and maybe get invested a bit in, this is a good game to pair with that.

Final score: 8.4 out of 10

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