Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
About three years ago I purchased the original Hyperdimension Neptunia purely to see how weird the story and characters would be. The concept that the game world was a representation of the game industry and the console wars sounded interesting enough that I at least wanted to give it a shot. After all, I do love really dumb and self aware stories. But, I couldn’t get more than half way through the original game. The battle system and frame rate were enough to make me straight up quit playing a game that I had bought just a few days prior. That’s something that I rarely do. The good news? Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a much better game. It comes packed with a completely new battle system (taken from other games in the franchise), a better frame rate, new characters, and apparently a new version of the original story. It still has its share of issues, but Re;Birth takes what was a once a bad game and turns it into something much better.
In the world of Gameindustri there are four goddesses (CPUs or Console Patron Unit) that rule over the four continents of Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox, and Lowee. When the world is threatened by a greater evil the CPUs, who were previously part of a console war amongst themselves, are forced to team up to save the world. Throughout the game you’ll meet characters named specifically after several game companies (CyberConnect2, Idea Factory, etc.) and you’ll see a large number of references to video games of all kinds. In spite of the “End of the World” story-line, the entire game is full of lighthearted jokes and self aware humor. It’s common to hear characters reference the fact that you’re playing a game. There’s quite a bit of fan service to go around, but for the most part it’s all pretty lighthearted; aside from a few scenes that were a bit much. It’s not necessarily something I’m looking for in a game, but it’s also hardly offensive. That said I never really found myself attached to the stories or really any of the characters. I like how self aware everything is, but at the same time I just didn’t really find much of it funny or entertaining.
Re;Birth replaces the battle system from the original game with the system that was put in use in later entries. While still turn based, you can now move freely around the battle field and preform a variety of moves against one or multiple foes. Party members have three types of attack (Rush, Heavy Hit, Break) that should each be used during different parts of a fight. Rush fills the EX guage faster, heavy deals more damage, and break drains the enemy’s guard gauge faster. A depleted guard gauge leaves an enemy open to take massive damage, while a full EX gauge allows the party member to use an extremely powerful skill. As the game progressed I found myself really enjoying the various mechanics at work within the battle system. Everything works together really well and makes for some really enjoyable boss fights.
The Remake or “Plan” system is another new addition to the game in Re;Birth. Plans are obtained as you progress and allow you to unlock dungeons, create new weapons, and even alter parts of the game. Just off the top of my head I can think of plans that enabled difficulty changes, brand new optional dungeons, higher jumps, and new outfits. Each plan requires specific materials with many opening up a good deal of optional content. It’s also the way in which you unlock the Colosseum which allows you to fight various hordes of monsters to win special prizes, money, and shares. (Shares being the representation of influence a CPU has over a certain place.)
As much as I enjoy the battle system in the game I think it’s pretty hard to look past the way in which Re;Birth reuses dungeon layouts numerous times throughout the game. New dungeons/forests/etc. are often just higher level enemies dropped in the exact same layout from an earlier dungeon. It just makes things feel more tedious than it should.
A new battle system, among other new additions, have brought the first game in the series a long way forward. That being said, I wish I liked it more. Outside of the battle system I just wasn’t really having all that great of a time. I’m glad that I gave this series a second chance though. It’s not perfect, but the new content makes it feel like a completely new game and one fans shouldn’t miss out on.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Battle System
- Plan System
- There's an enemy in the game that is literally a PS4 with a face
What I Dislike:
- I didn't particularly enjoy the story or characters
- Video game jokes and references can be hit or miss
- Reusing dungeons