Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Blackheart (PS Vita) Review

Noire, from Hyperdimension Neptunia fame, is now starring in her own game.  Instead of a normal RPG, this time it is a grid-based strategy RPG, like Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics.  Accompanying her is not only her console rivals/friends, but also new characters made to represent famous game franchises.  Instead of fighting her rivals in a console war, Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart instead focuses on recruiting the generals to unite the land.

While the characters are the same as Neptunia, this game has some very big differences.  Character models are super-deformed, with their big heads and little bodies.  Instead of Gamindustri, Noire takes place in Gamarket.  Battles are no longer old school turn based combat, but instead take place on a grid.  At least the CPUs can still transform in battle... if only for a few turns.

One big thing that sets it apart from other SRPGs are the fields themselves.  Not content with just having a battle area, a lot of them have traps or gimmicks to them.  These include moving platforms, pitfalls and areas that damage you when you move on them.  While these are a cool, unique idea, they are too in favor of the enemies.  Stepping on the damage zones will end your turn as well as damage you.  Ugh.  Most enemies you fight on these stages can float, so the floor doesn't damage them.  Or it just doesn't damage them anyway, because...reasons?  The CPU forms can float, but it is temporary, situational, and not all of your party can do it.  If it affected the enemies, it wouldn't be so bad, but it's too one-sided for my taste.  Plus, enemy attack ranges are better than yours.  At least that's legit, since the main games do that frequently.  Still, cheesy does not equal difficulty!

Noire contains some of the various systems from the Neptunia games, but tweaked a little to fit in with the different style of game.  Blueprints are still used to add new items to the store, but they are usually obtained as battle rewards.  It's also harder to know where to get the items you need, since some are drops from enemies, some are quest rewards, and the rest are from treasure chests in the battles.  In previous games, you could see what enemies and even what items were obtained from each dungeon.  Now, you just have to remember or look it up.  It's not horrible, just very inconvenient if you are missing a certain item, and have to figure out where you get it.

When Peter Moore talked about Wii360, this is not what he had in mind.
The lily system also makes an appearance.  Now when you use a skill when next to your fellow teammates, they will give you a peck on the check and reduce the cost of the skill.  Besides being a bit silly, it is a very useful thing to take advantage of, since skills are so costly.  Character challenges have also returned.  These were little things like killing enemies, getting symbol attacks and jumping, and rewarded you with permanent stat upgrades.  This time they are tailored to the type of game, so you get them for being the party leader, breaking objects, and of course, killing enemies.  I really liked this little addition to the Neptunia games, and I'm glad it at least returned in Hyperdevotion Noire.

Instead of quests like the main series, Noire has extra battles to complete.  Completing them will reward you with extra items, and usually a blueprint, so it is worth doing them.  They are all repeatable, just like the story battles.  Actually, re-doing a story battle gives new items, so it's best to do them again too.  It's a nice and convenient way to level up, but it's really a product of not having areas to run around in or random battles.  I like that you can repeat the story battles, but I feel it's also a cop-out to pad the game's content.  You will probably end up doing each battle a few times to grind some levels, since Noire also takes that from the main series.  I didn't have to grind for every battle, but there were a few that necessitated an extra level or two to make it through.

I really like SRPGs, and Hyperdevotion Noire is no exception to that.  It's a fun game, even though it has its flaws and frustrations.  It's still a silly take on the gaming industry, although this entry seems a bit more serious than the rest.  Not that serious, though, as the humor is still present.  I like the characters focusing on game franchises rather than consoles, as that opens up a lot of new possibilities.  If you don't mind some grinding or uneven odds, and like either the Neptunia series or SRPGs in general, I'd recommend trying out Hyperdevotion Noire.

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