Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/06/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
It’s no secret that I’m a MASSIVE Hyperdimension Neptunia fan. It’s also no secret that the games in this series are decent at best. Sometimes I even acknowledge that fact. To celebrate Nep’s 10th anniversary, Idea Factory decided to release a PS5 remaster of the PS Vita remake of the PS3 original. What started as Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PS3 was remade as Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 on the PS Vita and then remastered as Neptunia ReVerse on the PS5. Personally, I would have preferred a fully remade game for the series’s PS5 debut, but for a series that excels at mediocrity, this is exactly what one should expect.
The game takes place in Gameindustri, a world divided into four nations each ruled over by their goddess, a Console Patron Unit – Planeptune, ruled over by Lady Purple Heart (Neptune); Lastation, ruled over by Lady Black Heart (Noire); Leanbox, ruled over by Lady Green Heart (Vert); and Lowee, ruled over by Lady White Heart (Blanc). These four goddesses fight endlessly in the land of Celestia floating above the four nations the Console War over Shares, the power derived from the devotion of the people. At some point in the endless fighting, Neptune gets ganged up on by the other three goddesses and goes plummeting to the ground below, landing headfirst like a javelin in Planeptune and losing all of her memory. As she seeks to regain her memory, aided by her new friends Compa and IF, she stumbles on a sinister plan to destroy the four goddesses and all of Gameindustri with them.
As far as gameplay goes, Neptunia ReVerse is about as generic a JRPG as it gets in most ways. Your four CPUs (seven if you play Arrange Mode which I’ll discuss in a bit) as well as the four CPU Candidates that you can unlock later in the game can activate HDD (Hard Drive Divinity) and transform into their true forms which gives them a pretty substantial stat boost. Other than that, it’s totally generic run-of-the-mill JRPG. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me; the game exists to be fan service, not to push the envelope of JRPG mechanics. The story is also pretty generic, although having the entire thing be an allegory for the game industry (even if the names are a bit on the nose) is pretty awesome in my opinion. So why do folks buy these games other than the obvious anime tiddies? The characters. The characters and their interactions are, while pretty trope-y, a lot of fun. That’s why I keep coming back, at least; Neptune and Compa are two of my absolute favorite characters just kind of in general.
The Neptunia series has never pushed the limits of the hardware it’s on, and that absolutely holds true here. The game looks amazing compared to the rest of the series, but truthfully, this is nothing that the base PS4 couldn’t have pulled off. Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled to have another PS5 exclusive. It’s just a shame that the development team didn’t take advantage of the hardware. It looks very nice with some reflections and visual effects we’ve never seen in the series before, and the frame rate is a consistent 60 fps, but the models and textures aren’t going to impress anyone. The music is a similar story; it’s great, but it’s nothing that fans of the series haven’t heard before, and outside of a few tunes here and there, it’s nothing that’s likely to get stuck in your head or make much of an impression.
The big changes here from Re;Birth 1 are the trophy set and Arrange Mode. There are significantly fewer trophies in ReVerse than there were in Re;Birth 1, but that’s largely because Re;Birth 1 had a trophy for getting each character to level 99 whereas ReVerse doesn’t have any character-specific trophies. Arrange Mode is the big change; the core story doesn’t change at all, but the balance is changed up. First off, you get every character right from the get-go including some like Plutia, Peashy, and Uzume who I don’t recall being unlockable in Re;Birth 1 (I know Uzume wasn’t because the game she’s in hadn’t been released yet). You also get most of their costumes unlocked from the start. It also changes the XP balance; enemies give less XP, but it takes much less XP to get your characters to levels beyond 100, so while it may feel tougher in the core game, if you’re going for the high-level stuff, it gets (somewhat) less tedious. I played in Arrange Mode having already played through Re;Birth 1 and wanting to see what they changed, and it was definitely nice having every character opened up to me at the start, but I ended up just using the same eight characters throughout the whole game. It’s definitely not something you want you to do on your first playthrough – you want to get a feel for each character as they’re unlocked – but it’s perfect for replays.
Neptunia ReVerse is a solid remaster of the Vita’s Re;Birth 1, but given that it’s on a 9th gen console instead of an 8th gen handheld, it’s disappointing that more wasn’t added. The visual upgrades are definitely nice and a new high for the series, but even so, they’re only impressive in the context of the rest of the series. It’s definitely a tougher game than some of the other recent entries, but even so, as with most JRPGs, that’s nothing a little grinding can’t take care of. It’s definitely a fun game, but if you don’t care about anime waifus, you’ll get bored quickly. It’s a very competent JRPG, but it doesn’t do anything truly unique or impressive, and it’s not going to make much of an impression if you’re not a mouth-breathing weeb like me.