Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart (PS Vita) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 28.02.2015 2

Review for Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart on PS Vita

S-RPGs have always been fairly popular. PlayStation Vita has some of the best, like the extended ports of Disgaea 3 and Disgaea 4, for instance. Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a new S-RPG from Sting and Compile Heart, most known for making niche Japanese titles, published in English by Idea Factory. The game is set in a slightly alternate version of the Hyperdimension universe.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart's story is focused on the previously non-main character CPU, Noire, who is the overseer of the land Lastation and the commander of the other CPUs. After having a fight with her 'sister' CPU's Neptune, Vert, and Blanc, Noire runs into an anonymous woman who has a plan to make all of the lands united. It is here the game's main plot is unveiled: this woman intends to create chaos by unbalancing the regions, done by tricking Noire into wishing for unification, which overloads her power source and removes all of the CPU powers from her and the others, also referred to as shares. This is when the main character blunders into the scene, totally unaware of the situation in Lastation. They happen across Noire being attacked by monsters, run in, grab her hand, and then pull her to safety. This is where the game starts to introduce its battle mechanics… but more about them later.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart has two distinct play styles: 1.) 2D conversational visual novel style storytelling; 2.) Strategic grid, turn-based battling. The conversational gameplay is exactly what everyone expects from a game involving Compile Heart. Lavishly detailed 2D sprite work with little animations that have them absolutely oozing character, an interesting script with a few great one-liners, and some tremendous Japanese voice acting (although not quite as good in English). Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart's script can be a bit hit or miss on occasion, though. This time, the game's story is based on character development and it simply tosses a thin string of plot in when it needs to. This might seem bad but actually it works in its favour by creating memorable and fun characters that have a great back and forth with Noire and the others.

Screenshot for Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart on PS Vita

On the subject of characters, the generals of Gamarket (the name of the universe in which the game is set) have run amok after the loss of the CPUs' shares. It is Noire's duty to rein them back in and get everything back under control. Each general encountered is based on or is a reference to a different videogame franchise, with some subtle but excellent puns in their dialogue. This is most evident during the menu screen between missions.

The menu is laid out like a small hub room with various options presented. The first thing that is likely to be noticed is the small gathering of characters in the middle, spouting little text boxes. The next thing that might be noticed about them is that some are slightly familiar, for example a man in a cardboard box. These characters are pretty much all references to other game franchises with some extremely good game-related puns to say to the player should they choose to select them and read the dialogue.

In here there are some other functions, too. There is the ability to burn game discs, which can offer an advantage in battle, and they can be named by the player, which means during this review there was an in-game item called "Big Butts." There is also CPU room where access to the gallery and soundtrack resides. The mission select screen is also presented here, data where the save and load options are, and, finally, the most interesting of the bunch, Basilicom. The Basilicom is upgraded by completing requests and gives the main character more time to interact with Noire and find her hidden dialogues with some CG gallery artwork.

Screenshot for Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart on PS Vita

Where Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart really shines is in the strategic combat. To begin with, it can be quite easy but, as progress is made, the battles add a literal ton of objects to interact with, along with bosses that can one-hit KO the characters.

Each battle is played out on a small stage, split into a square grid à la Disgaea, with gamers setting a party leader and subordinates, and then placing them in a formation at one side of the map. At this point, the player turn usually begins, which allows a range of actions to be undertaken by each party member. First there is a basic attack manoeuvre that needs to be activated in an adjacent square to an enemy for melee. This move is amplified if used while flanking an enemy (from the sides or back). Second up is the Skill function, which is a powerful move that drains some of the current characters magic points but usually kills in one or two hits. Then there are the Special Moves which are unique to each character and are pretty devastating. In another reference to the Disgaea series, there is also the lift and throw mechanics that can be used to move around stage items for use as stairs to make it easier to find a way behind the enemy lines.

Screenshot for Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart on PS Vita

When using a CPU character they can activate HDD mode, which, for example, transforms Noire into Black Heart allowing her to act twice during battle, as well as dealing more damage. This mode is limited, however, and runs out after a few turns. Along with the CPU HDD mode, there is also the LP system, or love points. When a character is close to another and the love points are high enough between them it will activate a kiss, which leads to extra abilities such as summoning more units and points towards HDD activation.

The difficulty in Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is usually perfect, striking a decent balance between easy and hard. This, sadly, is not always the case and quite often becomes a frustrating mess in battles later on in the game. Some boss characters can defeat the player characters extremely quickly, which, when combined with some of the stage items that are used to avoid attacks, can be a little overwhelming. The best term would be it has a steep learning curve. Another problem is that even though the character development is excellent, it doesn't actually detract from the fact that the plot is so thin. A slightly thicker plot with a few twists would have made this an amazing experience rather than just another super good S-RPG.

Screenshot for Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A new direction and a shift in focus do wonders for the Hyperdimesion cast. Noire is an awesome protagonist and her back-and-forth with the player is entertaining. The gameplay is simple enough to learn yet is deep and satisfying. Sadly, the later parts of the game suffer from a slightly frustrating climb in difficulty, but persevere and it is still great. Altogether, Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is charming, fun and worth it for almost anyone, and is essential for S-RPG fans who want to try something new (also, those with a penchant for game puns, then this is also a must-have).

Developer

Sting

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I can't handle srpgs anymore literrally the same thing fft did 15 years ago.

Dragon0085 said:
I can't handle srpgs anymore literrally the same thing fft did 15 years ago.

FFT was great though but yeah, SRPG's aren't for everybody.

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