Idea Factory’s Neptunia series has seen a new release with Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online for the Playstation 4. Here’s our review.
The Neptunia series has been around for a while now, and despite being somewhat of a niche franchise it’s been fairly popular – even outside of its home country of Japan. One thing that’s consistent about the franchise is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, poking fun at existing genres and overused stereotypes every chance it gets.
The Cyberdimension series is no exception, as it features four game worlds that mirror real life console giants: Sony’s Playstation, Microsoft’s Xbox, Nintendo’s Wii U and a SEGA-inspired world based around an unreleased console. Over the course of several games, the universe and lore have been built up and have been applied to several genres – or RPG subgenres, if you prefer. “4 Goddesses Online” is actually a spinoff that’s based around a frequently referenced game in other Neptunia titles – an MMO that characters play but that we never get to go hands on with. Until now.
As expected, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is no ordinary MMORPG but rather one that provides a satirical view of other MMORPGs while playing more or less like one at the same time. A lot of this satire comes across through the game’s writing, which has plenty of subtle and not-to-subtle stabs at some of the sillier tropes you can think of – love stories, bickering between players, that sort of stuff. The writing’s good, and if you have a mild interest in MMOs you’ll get plenty of the references.
If you’re a big MMO fan, however, you might not appreciate the gameplay portion of Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online as much as the writing though. The combat especially isn’t exactly refined, playing a lot like button mashing adventures like Diablo or Torchlight but without the subtleties and intricacies that make those titles great. Those are action RPGs though, and most MMOs lean more towards a system that is heavy in inventory and character management – this one does not. That’s not to say that there are no character classes to choose from though – many of the usual suspects are here, it’s just that they’re not heavily or actively used in combat – again making the game lean more towards an action RPG than the typical MMO that it’s trying to mimic and mock.
Online cooperative play is supported, though not integrated like you’d expect in an MMO-inspired title. Instead, you can tackle a handful of missions inside the game’s main area with others – missions that will provide you with additional items upon completion. This is fun, but feels more like a diversion to spend a few hours with – you can’t actually play the main story together with friends.
The game’s presentation, from an audiovisual angle as well as a writing perspective, is on par with what we’ve seen before. The writing is excellent and the voice acting is good, but the visuals aren’t spectacular. Funnily enough, this is something that holds true for many MMORPGs as well – although here it wasn’t a limitation of the genre considering that most of the game plays out offline.
As a game that builds on what came before it, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is mostly geared toward existing fans of the genre. Its MMO implementation is too shallow to draw in the MMO crowd and there are better action RPGs out there, but at least the writing is consistently good and well worth it for Neptunia fans.