Before I get started on this review, I would like to clarify that this review is covering the 2015 released of the game and is NOT a review of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR, which has been stated to be an entirely different game gameplay wise. As a result, I do not know how much of this review will apply to that version of the game. I also am unlikely to check that version out for a while since I spent over 120 hours on this game and beat it only a few months ago. I’m not quite ready to play through another version of the same game, especially when I have 7 other games in the series that are currently out to play (and an amazing looking Switch title that is in development).
As for Megadimension Neptunia VII itself, well I don’t know how else to put this other than HOLY FUCK THEY ACTUALLY DID IT!!! They created a true sequel to Victory that is an improvement in almost every area. I fucking LOVE this game. While my review of Re;birth1 was a bit on the optimistic side, I honestly felt it was a bit of a let down. While it is a better game than the original Hyperdimension Neptunia was, that only means so much when it’s so vastly different from the original yet has so much copy-pasted from Victory. In the end I’d rather play either the original game OR Victory than Re;birth1 because the original is more unique and Victory does everything Re;birth1 does better.
It was between the mediocre Neptunia PP and the step down that was Re;birth1 that I was convinced the series was going through seasonal rot. I have played about 8 hours of Re;Birth2 and can confirm it’s basically Neptunia Mk2 with Victory’s battle system and a few slight tweaks. I never got around to playing Hyperdevotion Noire, Action Unleashed, or Re;birth3 as a result but seeing what I saw of Megadimension Neptunia VII (along with NieR Automata) was a major factor in me getting a PS4 in Christmas of 2016. I later got this game for my birthday which was a month later but I held off on playing it because… reasons, but I finally finished it a few months before its remake was released and have not gotten to work on writing the review until afterwards.
Starting things off, Megadimension Neptunia VII has a much stronger story than its predecessors. While I did enjoy Neptunia Victory’s narrative, there were a few points where is was kind of uneventful and it had its weaknesses. There are technically a few weaknesses to Neptunia VII as well but there are significantly less of them. Neptunia VII approaches its narrative similarly to that of a shonen anime with three different arcs focusing on separate conflicts with different antagonists and settings. To be more precise, that describes the first two acts of the game and the third is where everything comes together and the loose ends are explained.
The plot of the first act involves Neptune and Nepgear being teleported to a post apocalyptic world known as “Zero Dimension.” There they meet a red headed girl named Uzume who has a tomboyish personality but turns into a stereotypical magical girl when she goes into her CPU form known as Orange Heart. The three of them attempt to return Neptune and Nepgear back home while chronicling Uzume’s attempts to fight back against a destructive giant known as the Dark CPU.
Of specific note is that Uzume is now my favorite character in the series. I related to her on such a strong level and I just dig her character. I especially connect with how she can be so easily influenced by people thinking she’s cool and how she gets so embarrassed about showing off her girly side. I have always had the tendency to act tomboyish to the point that I am often nervous about being openly girly… being raised as a man kinda puts that expectation on you. I get so scared of people thinking I’m childish for being openly girly when it’s really just because I never had a chance to. The way that she has no problem acting as her true self in her CPU form does lend precedence to a theory that one is closer to their true selves in said form, and as a trans woman this touches me on a deep emotional level.
I also feel immensely heartwarmed when seeing the scenes of Neptune and Uzume bonding as friends. There was a typical fanservice scene where Neptune and Uzume are showering on the roof and Nep is trying to convince Uzume to take her clothes off. It looks like your typical anime fanservice at first, but it hit me as to why I like the fanservicey aspect of this series so much. In the context of the game, there are no guys around them to peep at them and they are all by their selves. I always had a special desire to just be alone with other women, with no guys around and to not be a guy. I just want to express myself as a girl in an environment where other girls are supportive and understanding of it.
This is why I say that the Neptunia series is one of the most pro feminist video game series to ever exist. The nature of the Neptunia storyline appeals far more to queer women such as myself who never got to express themselves than straight male fuckboys looking for anime tiddies. I mean, do you seriously believe the same kind of nincompoops that are offended over Battlefield V having women in it will like a series like Neptunia?
What really sets Neptunia VII apart from its predecessors in the writing department is that it’s surprisingly deep despite all the silliness. An example is late in the game where you see the dreams of all four CPU characters that serve as both silly jokes AND as insight to their characters. Blanc’s dream is that she has boobs that are bigger than Vert yet instead of just being a joke about Blanc lacking in the chest department, it shows how her having them, and thus not having her inferiority complex them would drastically change her personality. In turn, Neptune’s dream is just about her doing what she does every day, demonstrating that she strives for a peaceful world. Note that Neptune is usually pretty dumb and lazy character wise, yet they did not choose to go after the low hanging fruit and instead talk about how her innocence makes her an ideal figure to look up to and inspires the best in her.
Also there is the “normal ending” that I will not spoil, but I will say that it made me cry like a bitch. I think this may be the first time the series ever provoked that reaction from me… aside from the Conquest Ending of Mk2 but I’m sticking to good scenes here. The series has finally figured out how to touch upon more uber grimdark subject matter without being forced and ham handed about it, and maintaining the series’s signature style so they deserve props for that.
As for the game’s presentation, it should be noted that this game marked the moment that the series acquired the advanced artifact know as “a budget” and created something that actually looks pretty. I don’t know or care about the technical quality but the art direction both in game and during cutscenes is very pretty. Unfortunately they still re-use dungeon layouts and enemy models but nowhere NEAR the extent that Re;birth1 did, and they also actually threw in a bunch of new shit. Additionally, Megadimension Neptunia VII also changed up the layouts of the dungeons and no loner use duplicates (although some are unchanged from previous installments) so it’s at least down to just the backdrops. There are still invisible walls that extend to up to a foot between a wall and the player character, but I can let it slide seeing as how AAA games still have that.
As for the music, I’ve already touched upon it plenty of times as it is, but I think it’s worth mentioning that it had something ridiculous like six different composers. Not only does it make good use of the tracks from the previous games but the new ones are wicked sweet as well. Certain tracks in this game have sounded like something I’d expect from NieR Automata for fucks sake. The voice acting is also solid and the sound effects do their job very well. Hell the enemies finally have voice clips as well.
Gameplay wise, VII is a step up from both Victory AND Re;birth1 which is a welcome change of pace. Battle mechanics are mostly the same as the aforementioned games but with a few much needed improvements, so if you want to know how the battle mechanics work then I’d suggest looking at them. One of of the best decisions was to finally allow the player to swap out out a character with who they have been paired up with via the lily system without it taking up their turn. This means that it is a lot easier to get use out of all of the game’s playable characters.
On top of this, Lily ranks can be increased by using them in the same battle in addition to having them paired up. This makes maxing out lily ranks far easier if one is seeking to do so considering that there are also upgrades that increase the rate at which affection grows. The guard break system is also removed so you just focus on fighting bosses the old fashioned way, but there is still a decent amount of strategy required in a lot of boss fights and some were pretty fucking brutal… the optional ones at least. Unfortunately if you do every side quest, it results in the main quest becoming pitifully easy.
The world map has now been made more interesting in that you there are a bunch of dots that your character walks across the the possibility of instigating random encounters. Early on in the game it made things more risky in case you just made it out of a dungeon and were low on health, so you’d try and reach a town and hope you aren’t thrown into a random battle. Unfortunately this just became a nuisance later on since you were able to plow through all of the enemies anyway.
What Neptunia VII does very well is just how much content it has. I spent close to 150 hours doing everything I could in the game. The only thing that stopped me from getting a platinum trophy were those fucking trading cards. I technically played through the game twice just so I could see all the content and get the best ending, and both times I ended up doing every quest and collecting every treasure not because there was any requirement, but because I just had that much fun doing so. This was one of the most addicting games that I have ever played.
There are only a few criticisms that I need to levy towards this game. The first being that there were a few dungeons that were just awful. The Neplunker dungeons for instance operated on the same physics as its namesake, meaning that you will often die from falling a distance shorter than you jump, and the Neplunker Zero dungeon damn near borders on platform hell.
Oh and there is also the Senmuu labyrinth dungeon. Your mini map gets disabled and the dungeon literally looks like something from the original Wizardry. Getting through it is manageable but finding the hidden treasure involves killing EVERY enemy that spawns, of which there are 50. Even worse is that there are invisible walls that the player will only find if they know they are there beforehand. Just a fair warning, don’t even try to get this treasure without a map. Also just cause they are dicks you need to do this a second time to get another treasure.
But overall, I was impressed by Megadimension Neptunia VII. EVERYTHING about this game has been an improvement over Neptunia Victory, and that game was already awesome to begin with. And here we have a developer that makes obviously low budget titles with recycled assets that is still far more competent than most of the AAA schlock that is currently being pumped out. Holy shit, if Megadimension Neptunia VII is this good, then I can only imagine how VIIR is.
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