Anyone that’s ever touched a video game controller will know that the industry behind their favorite titles is one that is, for lack of a better term…cut-throat. Studios rise and fall each day, games get made, games get cancelled, games get good reviews and games get bad reviews. Some companies can gain high levels of popularity with one good title, others take years to attain even half of that fame. There are series’ that, while stale and now mostly unenjoyable, still stand tall at the very top of most “best seller” charts.
The men and women behind the scenes are ruthless and will do most anything to have their game be received the best…sometimes that has nothing to do with actually making the game good. Money is made, money is lost and money is thrown around like it grows on trees. Look…what I’m getting at is that the video game industry is just as intense as the bosses featured in those games and it seems as though the only series OF video games that has perfectly captured the essence of the industry is that of “Hyperdimension Neptunia”; a line of action/RPG titles developed to closely mirror the reality that is the video game industry.
For most of the series, the story usually follows the titular character Neptunia, but this time around the tides have changed and we’re to now follow a NEW main character. As the first tactical role-playing game in the “Hyperdimension” series which also happens to feature a new protagonist, “Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart” splits off from the main series but does it do as well as it’s predecessors? That’s something I’m going to try and figure out.
Unlike previous Hyperdimension Neptunia games, Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is not set within the world of Gamindustri, but instead within a similar, but separate, world known as “Gamarket”.
The CPUs of each of the four nations are locked in heated battle against one another for dominion over this world. Just as Noire is one step away from complete domination, the CPUs are suddenly robbed of their powers by an unknown force. Now in order to save the world from destruction, the four CPUs must unite Gamarket and defeat the onslaught! – Idea Factory
“Hyperdevotion”, as you have just read, features a pretty simple storyline. As far as actual story depth goes…the small synopsis just above from Idea Factory themselves, the publishers of the video game, details it perfectly. Now what that should tell you is that there really isn’t a lot of substance to “Hyperdevotion Noire’s” story. You play as, essentially, the leader of a nation who most team up with other leaders from across the land to destroy an all-encompassing evil.
It’s your basic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” storyline and it doesn’t develop to be much more than that. Pacing-wise, the story is actually excruciating simply because it seems as though it goes nowhere. At a whopping ten hours in you’ve barely met all of the characters in the game and you’re no where near close to the actual antagonist of the story who shows up early in the game and is then very much aloof until the very end.
All story is told through visual-novel style dialogue boxes which tend to get a bit monotonous after the first couple of missions, especially because what the characters are saying is nothing more than drivel. Characters tend to speak in a manner that gives the impression that what they’re saying is important but it’s more than often not.
Picking up where the story drops off is the gameplay which, while not that in-depth, does indeed put the “fun” in “fundamentals”. There’s nothing really awe-inspiring or ground-breaking about the tactical role-playing game mechanics in “Hyperdevotion Noire”, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When I said what I did at the start of this paragraph I didn’t do so just to make a silly joke, there really isn’t anything to eccentric that sets this game apart from your standard strategy RPG. There’s plenty for a casual gamer to do without the sometimes tediousness of level grinding or item fetching or any of the other standard RPG mainstays. As for those who consider themselves somewhat RPG aficionados…this game leaves you with much to be desired.
Even in saying that; I actually had a very good time playing simply because I didn’t have to put all of my mental power to use to be able to clear a mission. I’m usually more into the long-running, high playtime RPGs but I still managed to find a lot of enjoyment in the uncomplicated gamestyle of “Hyperdimension Noire”.
One of the better aspects of the game is that of its visuals which also differ from the main series of “Hyperdimension Neptunia” titles. This time around, the developers chose to run with a more “Super Deformed” or “Chibi” style of design, turning all the cute girls into even cuter girls.
What I found exciting is that all, if not most, of both the character and environmental models were so clean and crisp; something you don’t often see in a PlayStation Vita title. The colours are as vibrant as you’d expect from a “Hyperdimension Neptunia” game and the same can be said about the incredibly unique line up of new characters. The animation quality is also very good!
It’s smooth and, once again, very clean-cut but there is a little trick as to why that is so; there actually isn’t that much movement in the game. For example; special techniques that fade into a cutscene don’t last more than four of five seconds and what the models do during those cutscenes aren’t very extravagant. Much like the gameplay, what they do is very basic. This allows for smoother rendering and less jitter in the animation. It’s little things like this in “Hyperdevotion Noire” that you pick up on but it doesn’t necessarily make the visuals any less pleasing.
Pairing up nicely with the visuals is, obviously, the audio. The soundtrack sticks to the standard of a “Hyperdimension Neptunia” title; there are a lot of high fantasy-style tunes mixed together well with that of electronic which makes a great deal of sense seeing it IS a game that revolves around, well…video games.
What stands out the most throughout the game is none other than the voice acting. While you can change between both the Japanese and English dub, I suggest you stick with the English simply because the lovely ladies that lend their voices to their respective characters do absolutely fantastic jobs at capturing the individual personalities.
With artists like Melissa Fahn, the voice of Edward from “Cowboy Bebop”, making up one forth of the main cast, it’s very hard not to enjoy what you’re hearing. it’s even harder when the rest of the cast do just as good a job as her. Unfortunately, some of the characters in “Hyperdevotion Noire” are a little too annoying BUT thankfully it has nothing to do with their voices.
Simply; “Hyperdevotion Noire” can be easily summed up by saying that it is, at its very core, a “Lite” version of a mainstream “Hyperdimension Neptunia” title. It has MOST of what you’d expect from a “Hyperdimension Neptunia” game but lacks a great deal of depth in both the story and the gameplay.
Still, at the end of the day, I had a great deal of fun with it and I can only assume many others would get the same enjoyment level out of it as I did. At least, that’s what I hope. It was a nice idea to have a secondary character take over as protagonist and that wasn’t the problem with the game so I can only hope there will be others like this featuring new main characters but with a bit of overall game development.
While not terible, ‘Hyperdevotion Noire” wasn’t the best tactical RPG I’ve played as of late but what this game has done is lit a fire within me that can only be quelled by playing other “Hyperdimension Neptunia” titles, so if you want to try out the series but aren’t quite in the mood for a terribly long and deep RPG, this game might just be the one for you.
Experience the game for yourself by going to the official site: Click Here