The In Joke to end all In Jokes
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is in this case the PC port of the Vita rpg/visual novel/satire machine. Developed and Published by Idea Factory, Inc. Released for the Steam platform on the 28th January 2015.
It is not very often you come across a game series that openly pokes fun at its own culture and roots. It is even more rare to find one that almost entirely bases its existence on this, but Re;Birth1 certainly does that, from the enemy names and sprites to the almost constant satire and referencing within conversations, it almost becomes a game in itself to spot out said references. I say almost because quite often in trying so hard to mock it falls into the trap of becoming what it is poking fun at. Now obviously this title is not supposed to be a social commentary of what is going on in the world of gaming, but between its totally unnecessary panty shots/boob conversations and NPC’s like the “Super Otaku” it strays heavily into comedic impersonation rather than satire.
That being said, the story is great if a tiny bit on the shallow side. You take on the role of Neptune, one of 4 goddesses currently embroiled in the “Console War” and go on a quest to regain your memories and abilities so you can bring peace to “Gamindustri”(feeling those puns yet?) and attempt to bring an end to the war. As you would expect this involves you and characters you pick up along the way travelling from dungeon to dungeon defeating monsters, collecting items and enjoying some lengthy visual novel style conversations.
Gameplay wise it does very little to elevate itself above it’s competition, but does just enough to remain memorable. You choose a location from the world map (a map again full of puns) and find yourself transported into an open world style dungeon, run around starting fights on the locals until you have explored the entire area or have completed your fetch quest. The combat is a little more in depth locking you into a circular combat zone that allows relatively free movement while deciding what angle you wish to attack your enemy or support your allies from. Each character has their own very obvious combat style which work well with their personalities but does not allow for a large amount of strategy. The customisable “game disk system” and Neptunes HDD transformations do sometimes throw a little into the mix beyond the usual heal/brute force approach. Sadly though except in a few areas I did not find the combat to have any particular difficulty to it which sometimes made it hard to keep pushing on, luckily level grinding was not particularly required as a result.
MK1 is a very pretty game, nothing we have not come to expect but it uses its anime style graphics to great effect. Everything is incredibly colourful and this really lends well to bringing it all to life. Combat is flashy and loud which I found made it much more fun and character models are spot on. One particular area that caught my attention was in the conversations. At first glance they look like the typical arty visual novel style, however small things actually breath a little life into them such as characters blinking, breathing, pulling silly faces and having a certain animated quality to them. This really helped me to enjoy these conversations and as a result the game was more enjoyable overall.
Sound wise Re;Birth1 is strong with fast paced pop style/ hard trance battle music and rock themed victory themes. All battle sounds are crisp and clear, more than serving their purpose. The main strength is the voice acting though, available in both English and Japanese flavours, both are of a very high quality and are very well executed, especially when it comes to the humour the game revels in. I personally found the English actress’s for Neptune and Compa to be fantastic with their delivery of these lines.
As this is a PC port of a console game, it will be met with quite a bit of expected trepidation. Fortunately IF have created a very good, well optimised port which performs flawlessly on any mid range system at a solid 60fps/1080p, although some laptops may struggle a little. In my play time I found only one major issue which was on my laptop, the game simply refused to start. After a bit of investigation I found I had to install the 32bit version of DirectX manually because the title does not understand 64bit systems. The Keyboard controls work just fine if a little difficult to remember at times, however once again this is a game that I would suggest even PC players use a gamepad for. I used an Xbox One controller and it was recognised flawlessly.
With a good 20 hours plus of gameplay for a single playthrough and plenty of replayability, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is a great romp through an engaging world with a great story, many laugh out loud moments and truly adorable characters. An RPG I would suggest to most anyone with a sense of humour as long as you are able to forgive the slightly on the weak side combat and its teetering on the edge of ridiculousness.
Who should buy:
- Fans of Anime styles
- Players looking for a lot of humour
- Anyone looking for an easy to pick up RPG
- Players unaccustomed to random panty shots
- Players looking for a deep, strategic RPG
- Fans of a more serious narrative