Overview – developed by Idea Factory and Compile Heart, with publishing handled by Idea Factory International, Megadimension Neptunia VII is a 3D dungeon crawling RPG filled with action, adventure and references to classic video games. This title features beautiful anime artwork, a delightful soundtrack and an all-star cast of voice talent, released previously on PlayStation 4 and the Steam service, Mega Dimension Neptunia VII makes its debut on Nintendo Switch. Links to all versions of the game will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Idea Factory International for providing the copy of Megadimension Neptunia VII that was used for this review. The provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this article, all thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.
To celebrate the launch of Megadimension Neptunia VII on the Nintendo Switch, a special three week discount of 20% will be active for the Nintendo Switch version, alongside a special physical release through Limited Run Games. So with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the review, I will be the giving very brief plot details as I feel the story must be experienced firsthand.
Plot – the plot for Megadimension Neptunia VII is focused on the adventures of the two sisters, Neptune, the goddess and protector of Planeptune and her sister Nepgear. After finding a mysterious box, Neptune and Nepgear are pulled into the Zero Dimension, a ruined land under threat from beings known as the Dark CPU. Upon meeting a mysterious girl called Uzume Tennouboshi, a tomboyish young girl who is locked in battle with the Dark CPU, hell-bent on saving her home from destruction.
Gameplay – the majority of gameplay in Megadimension Neptunia VII is split into three sections, dungeon exploration, objective/quest completion and turn based combat. I will be talking briefly about the various aspects of gameplay, this is due to the many complex mechanics that this title features, along with some moments that I don’t wish to spoil. The first thing I want to talk about is dungeon exploration.
Each zone in the game is set in a themed environment, with some containing several routes, alternate paths and hidden objects. Here the player can freely move around the dungeon environments, jumping over obstacles and seeking out treasure. The player has a party made up of between one to four members, with the member chosen as the leader being the one that roams around the dungeon areas.
When exploring the different locations, the player will encounter monsters that wander the tight corridors and open spaces, danger can be avoided or faced head on. If an enemy spots the player, they will charge, if contact with the player is made from behind or during an action, the enemy gets an advantage. If the player presses the attack button and strikes the enemy, the player gets an advantage. If contact is made without attacking, regular combat ensues.
The enemies that reside in each environment can be specific to that area, with space invader style monsters in a ruined city and visual novel styled enemies in a subway/arcade. This variety of enemies keeps the exploration of dungeons fresh and exciting during play. Outside of the dungeons, the player must travel to designated point on an overworld map, with points separating each zone. During travel, there is the possibility of random encounters, which must be cleared or escaped before continuing.
The combat in Megadimension Neptunia VII is turn based, with both characters and enemies taking their respective turns in a predetermined order. During each turn, players have limited movement around the battlefield, have the ability to attack, defend, use skills, items and special transformations (which I will mention later). When attacking and using skills the player has a range marker, showing the enemies that can be attacked, with the possibility to target multiple enemies.
When the player uses a standard attack, they can chain multiple attacks, with the options for standard, rush and power attacks. The basic weapons have the ability to combo three attacks together in battle. When new weapons are obtained, the combo options can change, altering available attacks, number of combo attacks and the basic range of attack. When the player levels up, new attacks can be learned that can be set in a designated combo menu both in and out of dungeons.
The skills that the player can use include attacks, stat boosts and recovery abilities. Each skill uses SP to activate the skill, with varying amounts required to use each ability. Just like the combo attacks, as each party member levels up, new skills are learned at different points, improving the characters repertoire over time. There is a variety of abilities available to the party members, giving flexibility to the possible strategies that players can have access to.
The player party can be customized with a lot of depth, with a mechanic called Lily Ranks. Lily ranks grant characters in the party skills and passive abilities for a coupling with other characters. To couple two characters, one is set as the lead character and the second as the support, these characters can be switched during combat encounters, allowing for characters to jump in and out of combat freely. The last part of the party/combat system I would like to discuss is the Drive Gauge.
The drive gauge serves several purposes, the most common are the Formation Skills and HDD Transformations. Formation skills require the party to maneuver into a position that surrounds the enemy, allowing a strong attack to be used, potentially destroying a shield on the enemy or dealing a heavy blow. Formation skills use the Drive Gauge to execute all skills, with appropriate planning the player can execute several formation skills against challenging foes.
The second most common use of the Drive Gauge is the HDD transformation, allowing the player to transform each party member into a powered up version of their character. Transforming each individual character uses a single charge of the meter, which is charged by dealing successful hits on enemies, with higher combos yielding more charge for the gauge. The transformations and formation skills offer many combat options, giving the core gameplay a lot of depth and flexibility.
When combat encounters are concluded, the players earn experience points and credits with occasional item drops as rewards. Experience points level up the player, giving new skills, powers and more. Credits are used in the in game shops, allowing for players to purchase provisions, weapons and other important tools. The last reward system is the challenge system, operating both in and out of combat, by completing milestones and character specific milestones, stat boosts and bonuses are applied.
Finally, I want to talk about the quests and objectives. The story objectives are made up of event and conversation markers, these markers are scattered throughout the dungeons and on the overworld map. The markers for these points of interest are very useful, providing simple and effective guides for players to find the next objective. Quests are accessed by going to guilds in the game world, offering additional missions and objectives for the player, rounding out the overall experience.
At the most basic core level, Megadimension Neptunia VII is an accessible and fun title. The simplicity of combat, exploration and menu navigation provides an experience that players both old and new can enjoy. Now with the gameplay portion covered spoiler free, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the controls for Megadimension Neptunia VII are simple yet accessible, with the movement and combat controls being responsive and free of input lag. The movement is covered by the thumbstick and the combat menus are operated with the face buttons. The clarity of button prompts is clear, with easy to read inputs in both docked and undocked play, with no issues at all when playing with Joy-Cons or Pro Controllers.
Difficulty – there is a gradual difficulty curve to this release, with the challenge being dependent on the time taken to level up the party. If the party isn’t leveled enough from battling monsters, the boss battles are much more challenging, potentially leading to multiple party wipes. Unfortunately, there are limited resources and save points at the beginning of the game, although there are items that can be obtained to ease this for free as DLC in the digital content store.
Presentation – the overall look and visual presentation for Megadimension Neptunia VII is colorful and vibrant. However, the graphical performance does have some flaws. When playing the game in handheld mode (the docked unit ran smoothly during play), there can be some drops in framerate, although these can be fixed by reducing certain graphical effects. Other than the minor performance issues the 3D models, environments, animated cutscenes and 2D anime style portraits are all aesthetically pleasing, given the hardware constraints of the Nintendo Switch.
The story segments use a visual novel style, with text on screen and art of the characters, this works very well as there is an English dub and native Japanese voiceover for important moments. The English dubbing is well acted, using a cast of new and returning voice actors, maintaining the quality and consistency of the previous releases in the Neptunia franchise. The cast includes Melissa Fahn (Boruto/Naruto), Xander Mobus (Persona 5/Fate) and Laura Post (Brand New Animal), with each VA giving an outstanding performance in my own personal opinion.
The music for Megadimension Neptunia VII has a mix of high intensity electronic/rock music. The heavy sound is contrasted with soft and gentle compositions using a variety of instrumentation, from piano and bright synth, to a music box styled sound that can be very soothing. Some music tracks utilize vocals alongside the melodies to wonderful effect, making the soundtrack a delightful accompaniment to the narrative and action.
Final Thoughts – I had a wonderful time playing Megadimension Neptunia VII for this review, losing many hours in the experience as I got swept up in the twists and turns of the story. The characters, setting and environments pulled me in, with an engaging cast of characters and the references to classic games/consoles brought a smile to my face. The action and narrative is balanced perfectly, with the flow of the gameplay between the two having few drops, however if the player wishes to only focus on the action element, then the story can be skipped.
I would happily recommend this game to both new fans and returning ones. The pacing and flow is suitable for players of any skill level, with the ability to ease the difficulty during the opening part with free DLC bundles of essential items. The additional content that can be downloaded also adds to the value of this bundle, with costume packs, additional characters and special items. The only flaw that may put players off is the minor performance flaws, which aren’t serious issues but can be inconvenient when sudden frame drops occur.
In the end, I give Megadimension Neptune VII a score of 4.5/5. Both the narrative and core gameplay are enjoyable, with the character progression and reward system being very rewarding. This is an excellent release for the Nintendo switch and I hope that more entries in the franchise will appear on the system. If you want to check this title out for yourself, links to all versions of the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)
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