Welcome to Gameindustri, a world not unlike our own…you know, except for the personified game consoles who serve as guardian deities…and all of the monsters. Ok, so it’s not exactly like our world, but…I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Regardless, Gameindustri is a crazy land of fun, drama and tension, centred around the concept that nations are formed solely around their loveable lady leaders and the gaming hardware said leaders can churn out. Truly a paradise for gamers this world over, but, as we all know, all is never peaceful within the game industry.
Now, for those of you who have perchance strolled through Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 and/or two, you may wonder why I am reintroducing you to the world you know so well. Is it because I am polite? Maybe. Is it because I am appealing to those newcomers to the franchise? Maybe. Or maybe it’s because the plot starter in this particular instalment involves good ol’ Neptune being thrown into a parallel dimension. Yes, it’s the last one (though the first two are nice as well). That’s right happy hyperdimension travellers, our loveable, wacked out buddy Nep-Nep has taken a tumble laterally through the realms of causality and wound up in a world not unlike her own, except for the fact that it is a Gameindustri of yesteryear, a realm where Lowee reigns as the only nation, as it has for years. So basically it’s the Cosnole War circa 1989. Therefore, expect plenty of barbs regarding the evolution of games and the hardware that plays it, like in every other Hyperdimension game, but, like, from the past and stuff. My personal favourite revolves around Blanc (the manifestation of Nintendo) and her apprehension regarding the upswing of other CPUs (gaming companies), given her position as the worlds only CPU for so long. More than being interesting, said story is also the linchpin of placing the new dimension in the past, along with providing a new aspect to the Console War story around which the franchise is based.
Plot wise, Re;Birth 3 is your typical traipse through the hyperdimension. Bad guys emerge, good guys lay the smack down, more bad guys emerge, good guys smack down again, et cetera, et cetera. Sure it’s not the most intricately developed storyline in the world, but as franchise regulars are sure to know, the games self awareness is what adds that little bit extra to the story. You’d be hard pressed to find a cutscene or dialogue box that isn’t meta in some way, with discussions of event flags and character limits running rampant. Even side characters chime in with mentions of repetitive story moments, questions about certain characters lack of emotional development and general queries about how exactly CPUs manage to run their nations when they’re always goofing off together. All very valid questions. Luckily for the franchise, a simple “Ignore it and have fun” generally quashes them. Sure it’s a bit of a cop out and sure it sounds like a powerful negative, but the response isn’t false. Neptunia isn’t a game for the serious at heart, it’s a fun, goofy quest about consoles represented by a bunch of anime girl tropes. Not that you’ll be able to forget that, given the characters and dialogue thrown at you.
Gameplay wise, Re;Birth 3 is a turn based RPG, though there is a touch of freedom between turns. With battles relegated to their own circular realm, players are able to move freely (distance based on characters personal movmenet stats) in order to enter attack range (a factor based upon the weapon currently equipped. What this basically amounts to is slowly inching towards the enemy and pivoting on a dime, in the hopes of placing as many enemies in your sights as possible (Hint: Placing the attack square diagonally between two enemies usually means you can just eke out a double target strike). As for attacks themselves, they are divided into three categories; Rush, Power and Break. Power make up your default strikes, focused solely on dealing damage to an opponent. Break, whilst also dealing damage, focus more on shattering an enemies Guard Gauge which, when broken, greatly reduces their defence. Rush on the other hand present the weakest strikes by comparison as, rather than powerful blows, their strength lies in replenishing your Special Gauge. Said gauge is what grants access to powerful SP skills, which can range from powerful combo strikes to healing moves, to stat buffs and debuffs.
Additional and ultimately powerful attacks are relegated to the EXE Gauge. Interestingly, for those who have played Re;Birth 2, the SP Gauge has been combined with the EXE Gauge this time around. Ergo, utilising one will drain points from both, so it becomes a matter of necessity versus choice when it comes to applying your top tier skills. This gauge combination adds a nice complexity to battles from last time around, as well as allowing each individual character to utilise EXE Skills without affecting others in the party by drawing on a singular gauge. Finally, the SP Gauge remains consistent between dungeons this time around, meaning that leaving Dungeon A with a gauge reading 1000/1000 for example, will mean entering Dungeon B with a gauge of 1000/1000. Thus, dungeons are not as secluded as before and prepping in a weaker dungeon is now a possibility.
An interesting little tidbit for Re;Birth 3 is the inclusion of character specific achievements, small little tasks that provide minute boosts to base stats upon completion. This provides some incentive to switch up part leaders, as thye are the only ones able to complete these tasks (save for a few that require remaining out of battle) although it is almost always more beneficial to just bump up the stats of one particular character. So do what you feel like I guess. One particularly useful skill acquired through this process it the opening of a fifth combo slot for any of the three attack types. Whilst decidedly beneficial, I will throw out a warning for players. Once said fifth slot is purchased, it must be utilised as leaving it unfilled will shut of access to EXE combo finishers. Whilst I’m not entirely sure why this is, it is definitely worth knowing. I didn’t for a while and it certainly bugged me once I found out. The same arbitrary pre-requisite details also apply to the ending of the game, the true one of which can only be reached after filling out a hidden list of requirements. Sure it’s RPG 101, but you have to slog through a lot of extra dungeons and material to acquire an ending that, in the words of the protagonists, isn’t “frustrating”.
I’ll admit it, there are a few niggling problems with this game that I can’t escape. The previously mentioned hidden requirements for completion, the overall lack of playable characters to fill out your roster until late in the game (unless you download the free DLC, which I recommend, as you will swing the opposite way and have far too many characters to use) and the visual repetitiveness of the dungeons. That being said, and as I have said in regards to other Neptunia games, I still possess positive feelings for this game. The overall humour and charm of the franchise just make them fun to play. The self deprecating style they possess in regards to these flaws also helps to mete these feelings. The characters themselves are also interesting and their interactions are nice to watch. Ultimately, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation is not the greatest game ever forged from the datasphere, but it is, at its heart, what a game should be; fun. And I can’t fault it for that.
Feel like joining Nep n’ crew on a wacky, cross dimensional adventure? Why not check out Idea Factory and see if you’ve got what it takes