Megadimension Neptunia VII (Vee two) is the latest installment of the Neptunia franchise, a turn-based JRPG with more references than you can shake a dogoo at, and now it’s available for PC. I’m going to have to start off on a bit of a rant here, because I had a lot of issues trying to even start playing the game. First of all, even though I have the system requirements to play VII, whenever I used my own computer I wasn’t able to play in full-screen mode, otherwise only half the screen would display, and even in windowed mode I’d still get random images flashing across the screen. Thanks goes out to P.Y. for letting me use his computer to play, as it worked fine on his. Second part of the rant is more about controller functionality. I would really like to know why the Xbox One controller on windows 10 doesn’t work properly on the default settings, but any other controller, or the Xbox One controller on any other Windows OS worked fine. I’m not sure if I should fault Microsoft or Idea Factory for this, but someone somewhere needs to question some piece of code. Now that the rant is over, let me give a brief summary of the differences between the console and PC release for those looking for it. The only real changes I noticed were the smoother looking graphics and I’m pretty sure they fixed some spelling mistakes. That’s it, really. With those out of the way? Let's talk about what went right with this game - because there is a whole lot that did.
For those who haven’t read a console review or played VII yet, the game takes the same format as the previous installments, having the player guide the games titular heroine through dungeons and monsters in order to save the world! Or something like that. The turn-based battle system is still in effect, albeit with some new modifications. Instead of combo moves using a set amount of points, now they are tied to weapons, as different weapons will have differing amounts of available “slots” for your rush, normal, and break attacks, and each combo move may only be used in a single slot. New battle mechanics also include formation skills and fancy new form changes. Formation skills can be used when all participating members are in the same form, and are surrounding or pincering the enemy.
Props goes out to Idea Factory for having the formation skill tutorial during an event where one character is transformed and the other two can’t, because that makes good sense. The fancy new form changes are acquired after game progression, and can be used by transforming once more after already being transformed. The new transformations have powerful skills, but they will knock you out of the transformation, so you may want to plan ahead if you want either the stat boosts or a super-powered skill. There is also a new type of battle style, which I will refer to as “colossus” battles, where you fight a really large enemy while jumping across broken, floating terrain. You can only attack using skills, but your SP passively regenerates every turn.
Gone are the days of roaming the field map spamming the sonar button looking for hidden treasure or purchasing that Laplace’s Eye, because now hidden treasure is found by completing certain stage requirements, which can by unlocked through the use of scouts. The fact that you need scouts in order to discover the treasure requirements is something I personally find to be a bit arse, especially considering it’s based on RNG, so you can imagine my chagrin when it took me nearly three hours to unlock the final requirement on the last dungeon I needed to get the associated achievement. The requirements range from “kill all/x number of these enemies” to “get successive symbol attack way more than should be necessary”, although the hidden treasures are completely optional, and there are special items you can get in the true end route that makes these treasure requirements pretty much a joke. On the subject of RNG, for those who are going for the full achievement list, have fun with the card packs. 6 hours and 24 000 cards later, and I finally got it unlocked. Hope it goes better for you.
All your favorite characters are back for VII, as well as some new cast members, symbolizing four major production companies. I’m actually a bit torn about this, as the choice from all these characters is nice, but there are way too many for this style RPG. If you could swap out more than just the four members in your reserve party it would be fine, but when you have 16+ characters and only 8 at max in your effective party, not to mention mandatory characters for certain battles, your choice starts to get limited to “who will I need to use” instead of “who do I want to use”. Thankfully, all of the characters are unique and interesting in their own right, and there wasn’t really any character I really didn’t want to use no matter what.
Idea Factory did a lot really well for Neptunia VII, including battle and field map refinement, quality of life improvements, and the music. Oh man, the soundtrack is beautiful, is probably one of the first things I said when I started playing. The new battle and dungeon themes are really nice, and I enjoyed listening to them the whole way through, with only one exception. The “colossus” battles were also really fun, although there were far too few. I would have really liked to see more of these as the few battles that were fought were really enjoyable. The bonus items available for completing the hardest quests were a wonderful addition, especially for completionists (me), and the option of investing in cities was a neat little gimmick they added.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows however, as there were a few aspects that either drove me up a wall or were lacking in some aspect. Like Neplunker. Neplunker drove me so far up the wall I was clinging to the ceiling the next story up. Neplunker is a bonus dungeon modeled after Spelunker; a retro game that is pretty much the definition of “unforgiving”. I enjoyed Neplunker for about the first ten minutes. After two hours of trying to complete it, because I refuse to be bested by a game, I was about ready to gnaw through my controller. I’m not sure what else I expected with a Spelunker tribute, but for the love of all that is good and holy it’s tough. As I mentioned earlier, the volume of characters is actually somewhat of a detriment, as you won’t always be able to use the characters you want to.
The coliseum extra battles felt lacking, and the “ratings” seemed almost arbitrarily defined, as at 15 levels under one rating I had no problems with one of the matches, but at 20 levels over a different one I could still just barely win. It also bothered me in previous installments, but I don’t particularly like the scout system. If there was an option included to dish out a large chunk of in-game currency to unlock the stuff the scouts could find, I’d be much happier. The newly added part break system is something I’ve always enjoyed having in a game where you can manually target different parts, but when you just have to kind of line yourself up and hope you’re at the right angle, it starts getting a little annoying after a while. Even just showing a part durability bar would be nice to see, as some enemies’ parts have a durability pretty much equivalent to the enemies max health.
Overall, Megadimension Neptunia VII is a great installment to the series, and fans of the series will definitely enjoy it. If you’re looking at the changes between console to PC, not much has changed, but if you didn’t get a chance to play on console, now is when you can. Jumping straight into the series with VII might confuse newcomers, but series veterans will feel right at home.
Idea Factory International
Article by Richard