Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (PlayStation 4) Review

By Brandon Howard 06.10.2017 1

Review for Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online on PlayStation 4

The Neptunia franchise is probably best known for its trope-heavy writing, and heavy usage of fan service, and Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is no exception. It's the first in the series to branch out into online multiplayer, and it's got a new combat system to boot. Does it shake up the formula enough to draw in a new crowd, or is this still just a title aimed only at hardcore fans?

Breaking off from the mainline series, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online immerses the cast of the Neptunia franchise in the world of "4 Goddesses Online," an upcoming sequel to one of the most popular MMOs of their world. Neptune and company get to take a break from saving their world of Gameindustri from various plots to destroy it, and get to enjoy some light-hearted fun for once.

Each of the series' "main" characters are fully playable, and each has their own unique set of skills that they bring to the table. Unlike the mainline series, Cyberdimension opts for an action-based combat system, rather than the series' traditional turn-based gameplay. Each character brings something unique to the table, so building a balanced party is actually something of a concern; definitely a change from the highly modular parties of Neptunia games past.

Screenshot for Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online on PlayStation 4

Neptune and Noire are the party's main tanks, being able to fight up close and take some heavy hits. Blanc and Vert play a more supportive role, healing and buffing the party from the real lines. Nepgear and Uni act as the ranged DPS characters, wielding magic and firearms respectively, and Ram and Rom are the melee DPS characters, dealing out big damage up close, but being a bit fragile in comparison.

Combat is pretty loose, with characters attacking directly in the direction they're facing, and any enemies who happen to be in their way get hit. There is a lock-on function, but it's worth noting that attacks will generally miss if they aren't locked on to, necessitating frequent use of the R1 button to reattach the reticule. It gets a little annoying, especially since characters move differently when locked on, making for some occasionally wonky camera angles.

Screenshot for Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online on PlayStation 4

As mentioned, each character brings a wholly unique set of skills to the table, and each one plays quite differently as a result. Supporting the team through Vert's elemental buffs and up-close rapier combat feels very different from Blanc's traditional supportive kit and ranged abilities. Characters have to balance skill usage with their normal attacks, so being able to get in a hit on a powerful boss can mean the difference between having enough skill points to use that crucial skill at just the right time.

Unfortunately, this is where one of the game's biggest balance issues shows up. While early on, Neptune and friends will have to rely on the limited resources and items they get from completing quests and opening chests, the party is literally flooded with resources by the early midgame. Money, equipment, and items are all extremely prevalent around the second half of the main story, and their usage is completely unrestricted in boss fights, aside from how many the party can carry. This, combined with the highly telegraphed and repeated attack patterns makes most boss fights a breeze.

Screenshot for Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online on PlayStation 4

Each of these bosses lies at the end of—for the most part—a relatively large stage. Most of the game's dozen or so stages have a fair amount of side areas to explore, and a good amount of secrets (usually costumes or accessories) to find. The monsters encountered in each stage generally aren't very threatening, but early on at least, they're a necessity to get the requisite experience needed to take out the first few bosses.

It is worth mentioning a couple of issues with the level design, though. It's more than possible to find characters getting stuck on ledges as they're jumping, floating in free space until they're pushed back to solid ground. There's also a couple of light platforming segments which feel frankly weird with how overall floaty the controls feel. They don't come up frequently enough to be a major problem, but the vertical moments in the level design feel a little at odds with the general flow of gameplay.

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The difficulty curve is completely all over the place, and it makes the game flow feel very odd. The in-game shop rarely stocks new equipment, so the party's stuck using their base armour and weapons for a lengthy while. Despite this, the first several major story missions reward the party with weapons that are far beyond what they'll be able to buy for quite some time. Additionally, the upgrade system usually requires items that won't be easily obtained for several more dungeons, and the shop vendors rarely have anything useful, other than stocking up on chest keys and restorative items.

While the first few dungeons are decently challenging, the difficultly completely drops off once the player has obtained a weapon for their character of choice from the story missions, and obtained some of the accessories available in the early midgame. Especially when equipped to Nepgear or Uni, the player can cut through stages in minutes, making story progression almost laughably fast. With a decent weapon (which again, is literally handed to the player for free), characters can see their damage double instantly.

While it does start out slow, bosses do feel a bit better to take down later on. There's a lot of repeats throughout the main questline, but the larger health totals and different arenas do offer a bit of variation in tackling the bosses. It would have been nice if they had a few different attack patterns, or some way to shake up their encounters, but seeing your party chain a massive combo does have a nice feel to it.

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The story is somewhat of a pleasant surprise, however. The Neptunia series doesn't shy away from mocking the game industry, but it managed to take some clever digs at the popular "trapped in a virtual world" trope that's become somewhat of an anime mainstay as of late. With the backdrop of an MMO, the story feels like it has more of a centralized focus, but the light-hearted moments still come frequently, making for a surprisingly nice balance of fluff and plot.

Of course, it's still a Compile Heart title, so the fan service is out in full force, but honestly, it isn't too far off of tasteful for once. The references are a little subtler, and the gratuitous fan service moments are kept to optional town conversations for the most part. The story has some interesting bits of intrigue that keep the suspense rolling, but there's enough charm that it doesn't lose that classic Neptunia vibe.

Screenshot for Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is a pleasant surprise, actually. The fast-paced combat is a welcome change from the tedious encounter system from previous games, and the story strikes a good balance of cutesy and interesting. Unfortunately, the gameplay gets really repetitive as bosses and enemies get reused level after level, so it's hard to want to keep at it for long. The balancing is completely off, and there's not a lot of challenge past the first couple of dungeons. Still, the gameplay has its charms, and the solid writing makes this one of the first Neptunia titles casual RPG fans and devout Neptune addicts might both enjoy.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

I used to be a huge fan of the series, but the jokes have run dry and the characters really grate on me these days.

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