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Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) artwork

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) review


"Welcome to Nep Art Online."


For the past seven years, the Neptunia franchise has spoofed nearly every genre it can get its hands on. The JRPG, SRPG, character action and even idol sim genres have all been satirized, which left the series to take on its most ambitious effort yet. The developers finally decided it was time to answer the question: can Neptunia successfully lampoon MMORPGs, or does it just need to log off?

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online, the latest of numerous spin-off in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, finds the familiar cast of CPUs and CPU candidates beta testing the latest version of Planeptuneís most popular MMO: 4 Goddesses Online. Fans of the series will recall that this particular MMO is Xbox proxy Vertís favorite game, which gives the developers the chance to explore her character in greater detail (as they have other girls in the previous spin-offs).

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) image

Cyberdimension Neptunia is easily at its best when it comes to the writing. And Vertís angle, while fun to explore, is actually secondary to the fantastic satire of MMOs on hand. The writers take shots at everything from players falling in love with one another to the petty rivalries that form between those trying to reach the end first. Itís about as authentic as it gets, if my time spent playing online games like Final Fantasy XIV is any indication, and the consistently stellar writing and voice acting really bring it to life.

Unfortunately, Cyberdimension Neptunia stumbles when it comes time to replicate the MMO gameplay experience. Unlike most MMOs, this one is a pure action-RPG with a command list that is intended to stand in for a hotbar. It doesnít quite hit the mark, however, as Tamsoft has made a game that feels more similar to their previous action games such as Hyperdimension Neptunia U. The results are serviceable, but itís disappointing to see a game that spends so much time trying to feel like an MMO settle for a battle system that leaves players to simply mash the attack button and occasionally use a skill.

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) image

The game does capture one important element of an MMO, though: the class system. Each character comes with a pre-selected class, and players are free to control any character they want and assemble a party that best serves their needs. For instance, Neptune is a paladin with access to not only strong physical attacks, but offensive and healing magic as well. Sheís a great all-rounder, but it would be wise to also include a character like Blanc, a priestess who can heal the partyís HP and status effects. Other classes include the wizard, thief, ninja and others you would expect from a standard MMO. Itís fun to try them out, but victory in battle still mostly comes from mashing the attack button until you need to heal.

The game borrows the worst aspects of MMOs in its game progression, as well. As in the earliest Neptunia games, progression is tied to completing kill-and-fetch quests. Unlike in those past games, however, new areas arenít unlocked quickly. Players will find themselves returning to the same areas again and again, only to fight slightly stronger enemies. Itís a bore that was only made bearable because I was looking forward to the next story beat.

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) image

Of course, the game wouldnít be much of an MMO if you couldnít play online, and Cyberdimension Neptunia serves that need. Unfortunately, players canít go through the whole adventure with their friends. Instead, online play is relegated to missions that can be taken on in the central hub town. These missions reward players with exclusive items that arenít available in the main game, but itís a shame they couldnít have been better integrated into the main game.

Personally, I was also disappointed with Cyberdimension Neptunia's aesthetic. With the move to Unreal Engine, Neptune and friends look the best theyíve ever looked. I adore the character designs. The environments, however, have taken a nosedive. They often feel like those free asset packs you see amateurs using for Unreal demos. Itís understandable, since the game is looking to replicate the look and feel of a fantasy MMO, but a little personality would have gone a long way toward making my journey the campaign a little less repetitive.

In the end, I found that while I didnít dislike Cyberdimension Neptunia, itís easily more disappointing than any Neptunia game I've played in a long time. In many ways, it feels like a rough draft for a much better game. Since it is a spin-off, though, I have a feeling weíll never see the potential met by a sequel that improves on the ideas introduced here. With that being said, the game does earn a solid recommendation for loyal fans of the franchise. Those who are new to Neptunia, however, may just want to start with one of the mainline games instead.

3/5

Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (October 10, 2017)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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EmP posted October 20, 2017:

Hereís an awkward sentence - These missions reward players with exclusive items that arenít available in the main game, but itís a shame they couldnít have been better integrated into the main game

You say main game too much. But thereís not a lot else to complain about overall. Thereís a sense of assumed familiarity on your behalf wherein you expect the reader to already know about the series, which falls a bit flat because though I own a few of the games, Iíve yet to sink a single minute in (but one day, right?). Still, good work putting over what parts of a faux-MMO works and which parts either fall flat to stick too close to the source for their own good.

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