Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation PC Review
It seems like almost yesterday that Compile Heart released their last Neptunia game…in fact, it probably was. The Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise has seen wave after wave of releases across multiple platforms, to the point that it would feel more bizarre if we actually went a whole month without another new port, remake, re-release or whatever.
The PC market has been especially blessed (?) with enhanced ports of the Nep-Nep trilogy, which they themselves are remakes of their original respective games. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation (a name that was presumably conceived to be ironic, but ended up looping its way around that it’s now a serious title) recently hit the West on the Playstation Vita, and now joins its predecessors as part of the Steam library with improved performance and additional extras to further emphasize how seriously Compile Heart is taking the PC market. Whereas the Vita version suffered from a choppy framerate, especially during battles, the PC version runs at a smooth 60 frames per second along with higher resolution textures, in addition to nearly instant load times. The tradeoff is that the PC version does suffer from a few instances of audio skipping, but such instances are few and far between and are a minor chink in an otherwise solid PC port.
The story is another hodgepodge of fanservice that caters primarily to fans of the series, with the occasional seasoning of hot springs, panty shots and boob physics that otaku gamers come to accept wholeheartedly. To be fair, the Neptunia series is far tamer than recent pandering efforts from Japan (minus the Vita spinoff from the folks behind Senran Kagura), but it is still a series that panders with Moe character designs and characteristics; Re;Birth 3’s narrative follows the recent sentiment of the franchise by unloading players with cutscenes upon cutscenes of incidental dialog and “cute” moments that are sure to drive even the most patient of players insane. Anime tropes can still be mindlessly enjoyable when handled right, but recent Neptunia games seem determined to drown you with dialog that is neither funny nor engaging. Occasionally there will be amusing callbacks to previous games and a few smirk-filled references to videogame culture (from pre-order bonuses to DLC bonus scenarios), but otherwise these characters take forever to say nothing.
Thankfully, the gameplay portion still holds up, even if it is highly unchanged from the previous games. Though hardly offering much challenge and depth as most top tier JRPGs, the Neptunia series earns special recognition for its fast-paced battles, including the ability to skip entire frames of animation, which cuts even the lengthiest of level-grinding sessions down to mere minutes. The quest mechanic, which has players performing various tasks such as collecting a certain number of items or defeating a certain number of enemies, is also quick and easy to get into, offering an Arcade-like level of quick play that many other RPGs do not offer. It’s a bit ironic how the series’ combat has been distilled into such quick-yet-enjoyable sessions while the cutscenes continue to get longer and duller.
In the end, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation is as solid as its predecessors, despite being noticeably talkier. The PC version also includes a few additional bonuses, from items to characters to inappropriate swimsuits that should continue to hook fans. Consequently, this latest entry does not have much to differentiate it from the first two games on Steam, which means that it should be skipped over unless the other two games have been played through first, or you are a longtime fan hankering for another round of Nep-Nep.