A brand new MMO has opened up and Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert have been invited to participate in the game’s beta. The game, 4 Goddesses Online, takes place in the fictional world of Alsgard and the four Goddesses who are part of the game’s quests are based on our very own CPUs!
When the four CPUs are deemed the Chosen Ones who’ll revive the four Goddesses, they travel on a series of quests to fulfill this new duty and take down the Demon King. What follows is an adventure filled with the series’ blend of funny, fourth wall-breaking jokes and upbeat, carefree attitudes which makes the series a joy to experience, although the issue I have here is the emphasis on grinding. For a series which has never been too inherently difficult (bar the PS3 version of the front game, which was pretty bad), Cyberdimension Neptunia raises the difficulty notably between each dungeon, leading to plenty of tedious button-mashing to keep up with the game.
That’s not to say that the game is horribly difficult by any means but unlike the MMO’s that this game is inspired by, Cyberdimension Neptunia doesn’t feel like it levels with you and it doesn’t bear the same depth that makes grinding addicting. Alongside mashing square to inflict a series of light damage, you can hotkey up to eight skills which can be combo’d together. The variety comes from being able to play as a handful of characters including the four CPUs and the CPU Candidates, and they each have their own classes and play-styles which makes them fun to play around with. It feels more like a hack and slash with MMO elements, rather than an MMO.
Cyberdimension Neptunia is visually the best that the series has been to date with more detailed 3D models and, as always, gorgeous 2D artwork — the new outfits are generally pretty rad, too. The 2D portraits in conversation lack the bouncing around and mouth movement that its predecessors has had, but this isn’t a bad thing — those mouths sometimes looked a bit weird, just aimlessly flapping about! It’s the colour and interaction between the characters that steals the show here, so whilst there’s a fair bit of eye-candy and lovely art to enjoy, you won’t be blown away by the series’ 3D animation, even though it’s definitely a step forward.
There’s a variety of areas to tackle but there’re also open plains which aren’t worth exploring unless you want some more loot, and it felt more productive to just tackle the beaten path. The areas are starkly different to one another, which I appreciate, but it doesn’t do a great job in encouraging you to explore. Whilst you can play online, chances are you’ll struggle to find a full team or will decide to just tackle the game solo, and it doesn’t have the same sense of camaraderie that an actual MMO has.
Due to the voice-acting strike, which has recently ended, there are a few voice adjustments here fans may not be best pleased about. Erin Fitzgerald isn’t reprising Noire, who she’s voiced since the very first game, and Tara Platt will no longer be returning to voice Vert. We still have the same peppy Neptune and blunt Blanc, and for the most part many of the voice-actresses return, but two of the series’ biggest stars don’t feel quite the same anymore. The new voice-actresses do a fantastic job, especially Vert who sounds pretty close to the original, but it is a shame not have the whole cast back together.
Cyberdimension Neptunia might be among the stronger of the series’ spin-offs, but it fails to capture what makes MMO so endearing to players. Repetitive gameplay fails to engage, and it pales in comparison to the game’s upbeat and joyful nature. Whilst it’s far from a bad game and I’m sure the team tried their best to make this type of game accessible to fans, especially as the mainline series is turn-based, it ends up feeling a little uninspired with an emphasis on grinding, which also leads to re-tackling the same areas over and over.
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online might go down fairly well with hardcore fans of the series but if you’re not, you’ll want to pass on this. As far as similar games go, Accel World vs Sword Art Online does far better in the single-player/co-op/downsized MMO experience.