For just around six years now, Compile Heart has charmed gamers with it’s flagship series, Hyperdimension Neptunia. I love that it doesn’t really it take itself very seriously mixing in various types of humor with lots of parody mixed with some shots at both new and classic video games alike centered around the four CPU Goddesses of Gamindustri. In the last few years, Compile Heart has shown they aren’t afraid to try different things with the series, which has lead to the release of various spin-offs with some being pretty enjoyable. This time Compile Heart takes on a completely different challenge as they aim to take on the MMO genre.
Unlike previous spin-offs, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (4GO) is the first title to be released on a console instead of a handheld system, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. While the title isn’t the first game to try to recreate the look and feel of an MMORPG while focusing on a single player experience, it does a great job of recreating the experience of one minus a lot of the hassle. The game begins as Neptune and the rest of the CPU Goddesses are selected to try out the BETA for the MMO game “4 Goddesses Online,” which is based on…well them. After logging into the game and creating avatars that look exactly like them, they set off to enjoy the adventure that lies ahead. What we get is a pretty average RPG story of needing to stop an evil entity by awakening the four goddesses. Of course, this is a Neptunia game, so things don’t exactly go as planned with something sinister lurking in the shadows.
Of course being in the style of an MMO, each character in the game uses a different class with Neptune choosing the Paladin Class, which offers strong physical attacks and ability to use healing and attack spells. Noire is a Dark Knight, and she mainly focuses on different attack skills. Blanc is a Priest and focuses on healing and support skills. Finally, Vert is an Enchanter, and she offers buffs for her teammates, which is pretty important. Not too long after the start of the adventure, you are also joined by the CPU Candidates, who include Nepgear as a Mage, Uni as a thief, which is the only class that let her use guns, followed by Ram and Rom, who choose the Ninja and Samurai classes. A few things to note in the game is that the AI-controlled characters are pretty useful and really help out a lot, which is pretty important especially in boss battles, and that you don’t have a cool down time after using your skills or items. That in a way can be pretty broken if you just spam your most powerful skills and have plenty of MP restoring items you’re waiting to use.
For the majority of the game, I stuck with Neptune as my leader. After reaching a higher level, she learns a healing spell. The healing spell makes things a lot easier as my team consisted of Vert for buffs and various attackers as I was the Tank, Healer and main damage dealer of my team. Of course, when I did switch out my leader, my play style changed. That is important, since by the end of the game, you have 12 characters to level up and only your active players earn any experience.
While there are various locations to explore and challenge, the only town in the game, Wishuel, serves as the hub. In town, players can purchase items and equipment from shops, strengthen equipment, visit the church to receive blessings for different stat boosts or bonuses at a cost and take on quests to progress the story. To progress further into the game, you need to take on various quests and level up your guild rank to take on stronger quests. Those quests usually revolve around getting items, beating up monsters or bosses and repeat. Wishuel also is filled with plenty of familiar faces, with characters from previous Neptunia games making appearances as NPCs, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, you do get some pretty wacky and amusing moments to keep the game interesting.
Customization also gets a nice upgrade as you can purchase plenty of outfits and items for your characters. It wouldn’t be a Neptunia game if Neptune wasn’t wearing her iconic hoodie, which is something you can get later in the game. 4GO offers plenty of different items and lets you change the size of items and overall make your perfect Goddess or Candidate with endless options.
Visually, this is one of the best-looking Neptunia games to date. This is thanks to the game being developed on the Unreal Engine 4. The character designs are sharp with plenty of detail going not only to the characters but the locations you also visit. While we get to see a new look for enemies we’ve defeated over and over again in the main series, we also see some bosses return from spin-off titles. The game does suffer from frame dropping issues in areas where a lot is happening, including rooms with tons of enemies, while not a big issue since it only happened a few times it was pretty inconvenient.
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is easily one of the best spin-off games to date. Not only does the game look amazing and is fun to play, it does what the Neptunia series does best, which is to have fun. While the story itself is pretty straightforward and simple, the biggest things I enjoyed about the game are the CPU Goddesses and CPU Candidates who really shine through in their interactions and scenes. It’s everything else that makes this game worth getting, including scenes such as Vert trying to make Bouqet, who serves as the game’s navigator, to become her little sister, or the references to anime/games like Sword Art Online and Accel World.
The main scenario of the game can be beaten in about 20 hours. That isn’t too bad with plenty of post-game quests to do. Even after beating the game, you will have something to look forward to as it replicates all everything you would expect from an MMO game with it’s own take on the genre. For fans of the Neptunia series, it’s a fun little adventure you will laugh and enjoy with plenty of everything that makes the series so enjoyable.