Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is the latest entry in the beloved Neptunia franchise, releasing in the UK on Friday 13th October for PS4. Once again, Idea Factory International are behind the Western release, and it is available both digitally and physically. Now, I’ve been a big fan of Neptunia since Re;birth1 on Vita, but how does this new MMORPG-themed spinoff fare in comparison?
Release Date: 10th October 2017 [US], 13th October 2017 [EU]
Genre: Action role-playing
Rating: PEGI: 12
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online, hereafter referred to as Cyberdimension Neptunia, is a game about a MMORPG called 4 Goddesses Online. This game takes place inside 4 Goddesses Online, in the land of Alsgard, as the four CPUs receive early access codes (I know, it’s incredibly meta) to be able to play the newest installment of the game. When the four CPUs enter the game, they’re approached by Bouquet, one of the NPCs. Our four CPUs are tasked with locating the four sacred treasures in order to free the four Goddesses and be able to save Alsgard from the Demon King Jester. It’s pretty standard fare, but the plot of the actual game detours from the intended plot of the fictional game for a while, which I quite enjoyed, finding it more interesting.
Going in, I was expecting the game to effectively be a clone of the only other faux-MMORPG I’ve played, Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment. That isn’t the case, though it does bear many similarities, and, yes, the Neptunia series now has a character based on Kirito. Dungeons are entered from the world map, itself accessed from the town. The town contains a variety of shops for purchasing weapons, armour, usable items and other accessories, including gems that have effects on characters that equip them. The guild hall is there to provide a means of activating quests and reporting them as completed. These quests will guide the flow of the story for the most part, through interactions with characters on the world map, and in either the guild hall or church will also progress it on occasion. Story advancement while in dungeons is usually pre-empted by an exclamation point on the map designating where to head to, though sometimes you do just have to read the quest to find out the right place to go.
Usually, with Neptunia games, we’re able to play as a wide cast of characters that reference the video games industry, but that changes this time around. The only members of your party are the four CPUs, their sisters, and the four divine goddesses once they are freed. Notably, the four divine goddesses are modelled after the four CPU’s real forms. Other characters you meet throughout the game are just there for conversations, though you do add their guild card to your repertoire providing some details on them. Unlike in the main series games, the frequency with which you upgrade your weapons seems to have decreased.
I don’t have a PS4 Pro for comparison, but the game occasionally lags when being bombarded with numerous attacks on my PS4, feeling as though the game is being played in slow motion. On two occasions, this resulted in the game crashing completely and closing, mid-dungeon; thankfully, I did not lose much progress as the dungeons are short and the vast majority of enemies easily defeated with little to no effort. For most of my time with the game, however, it played without issue, though mechanics felt a tad clunky at times, compared to the grace and smooth flowing attacks in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.
Despite the issues mentioned, the game is the best Neptunia has looked so far, and the dungeons, while still smaller than I’d like, are all unique and well-designed. It’s also nice to see so many new monster designs, alongside the classic Dogoos and Hell Cats, of course. Fighting is easy, being typical hack-n-slash; mash square to attack, with the occasional L1 and face button to use a skill. Sadly, fighting bosses is disappointing, in that the exact same strategy works for every boss up to the final boss, with no variation; spam Fire skill until the bosses guard is broken, use an SP recovery item, attack the boss up close with a sword skill until guard recovers, rinse and repeat. This can be done without losing much, if any health, and fast becomes tiring, as the only difference in battles is how much health the enemy has, and, thus, how long it will take.
The voicework by the Japanese cast is exceptional, as always, and the interactions between the lovable characters is what really makes the game, regardless of the mechanics. In that regard, it’s a typical Neptunia game, and I’m glad it got a Western release. I look forward to seeing what the next spin-off will be, because, although Cyberdimension Neptunia is far from perfect, it’s still a lot of fun, and I’ll never be able to get enough of the artwork.
Verdict – 81% Neptastic
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is another enjoyable entry in the Neptunia franchise, but I found it to be underwhelming compared to both other Neptunia games and the similar faux-MMORPG Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment. The number of dungeons is minimal, the majority of the boss fights simple, and the quests boring. I still had fun playing the game, as the characters, their interactions, and the voicework behind them more than makes up for the game’s let-downs. If you’re a Neptunia fan, it’s well worth picking up on launch to see the latest adventures of the CPUs, but if you’re looking for an entry-point into the franchise, there are better games to choose from.
This title was reviewed using a review copy provided by Idea Factory International.