The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is a long-running JRPG franchise that parodies the video game industry through using its characters as personifications of video game consoles and video game publishers.
The plot revolves around a group of goddesses who each represent consoles, fighting each other in a console war to see who could take over the land of Gamindustri. The protagonist is Neptune, who is defeated in the beginning of the game and loses her memory.
As the game progresses, she regains her memory and we find out there are far bigger threats than just console wars. Along the way we meet a variety of characters to help us defeat these threats.
Neptunia ReVerse on the PS5 is a remaster of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 which was originally released on the Playstation Vita in 2013 and later ported to Steam in 2015. Neptunia Re;Birth 1 itself is a full remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PS3 released in 2010.
Although the game makes a lot of referential humor to the video games industry in real-life, the game is extremely approachable for newcomers to video games, and you certainly don’t need to be a die-hard gaming fan to understand the plot.
It is worth noting that the original games were released as far back as 2010, so although some of the jokes are a little old and reference media popular in the 2000’s, many of the other jokes aged well and we were still able to get a laugh out of them.
The game has a serious storyline, but also has a lot of one-liner jokes thrown in-between that you can understand with a simple search. Many of the supporting characters such as CyberConnect 2 and MAGES. make anime jokes, with the latter making many references to the video game Steins;Gate released in 2009. There’s also a character named Falcom, who resembles Adol the Red from the Ys franchise.
There’s many references we were able to get laughs out of, and these are all completely playable characters with their own skills and equipment. One of the funniest jokes was a weapon named Digital Revolver instead of Digital Devolver.
The game features many tutorials, and this iteration of the game comes with Arrange Mode. Arrange Mode lets you play with most of the characters from the beginning of the game, which is a great mode for fans who played these titles before and want to experience all the gameplay from the beginning.
We liked this mode because it made the early-game far easier and you can use more complex strategies from the get-go. It isn’t recommend for newcomers who haven’t experienced the story before to use Arrange Mode because it does spoil the characters who join your party later on.
Other than the gameplay change, all of the story remains completely unchanged in Arrange Mode, and if you don’t decide to use it you will unlock the characters at their usual points in the story.
Although it appears confusing how many remasters and remakes Neptunia has had, this PS5 release is worth playing, even if you’ve already played the originals. We played through ReVerse on our PS5, and the technical improvements are astounding. With the PS5, you can take advantage of seamless loading times due to its SSD, as well as instantaneous saving/loading times.
The cutscenes in this game are stylized like a visual novel, which many may not be a fan of. The characters are 3D but are made to look 2D with breathing and blinking animations. The game has options for Japanese or English voice acting, both of which are extremely well-done.
Though the cutscenes are like a visual novel and the game features lengthy cutscenes, the characters are some of the best we’ve seen, who play off of each other very well and have a lot of funny banter.
The gameplay of Neptunia is similar to a turn-based JRPG system with some modifications. The enemies have a guard bar that can be broken with repeated attacks.
You have different kinds of basic attacks including rush attacks that powers your EXE bar faster, power attacks meant to be used after you broken an enemy’s guard, and break attacks meant to break an enemy’s guard. You can mix up these kinds of moves to outsmart the enemies.
The EXE bar lets your characters use powerful EXE drive attacks. More EXE drive attacks are unlocked from the storyline or through increasing your characters’ affinities with each other through battle by partnering them up.
Your characters also have SP and can use skills, which can attack the enemies with physical or magical attacks, as well as heal your characters or buff you and debuff the enemy. This is a game where buffs and debuffs affect your battles significantly! There’s currency and you can buy new equipment for your characters as well.
The game is, unfortunately, very grindy at times, and you will need to keep grinding to level up for later storyline events. One innovative system is the modifications system, which allows you to make changes to dungeons and gameplay by using Plans you collect in dungeons or from storyline events, which need materials to make.
To speed up grinding, you can make modifications to make enemies harder or easier, to add new enemies to existing dungeons, or even add completely new dungeons to the game! The downside? This game does recycle exact dungeons frequently. Some frequent offenders include the factory level that is recycled 3-4 times through the game.
But otherwise, making modifications is a very innovative way to handle difficulty, since you can modify many different parameters instead of just a simple difficulty bar.
The goddess characters and the unlockable CPU Candidate characters have a special form called Hard Drive Divinity, or HDD, which can be used if a portion of their SP is used, powering up those characters significantly. This can make tricky boss battles easier to complete.
One of the exclusive new additions to this PS5 release not found on any other platform is its fun and addicting fishing mini-game. There are bait items for sale in the shops and you can use it to fish. Fishing can get you powerful new equipment, or you can purposely fail the fishing minigame to fight enemies instead, which can be used as a way of grinding.
You do need to use motion controls by flicking the PS5 controller to cast your rod, but it is by no means intrusive and it’s not necessary for completing the game. This is a very welcome addition and can significantly alleviate the grind and repetition found in the Neptunia Re;Birth 1 release.
The soundtrack is great like it was in the older games with many techno-style beats suited for the futuristic atmosphere of the game. Although much of the soundtrack is the same as in Neptunia Re;Birth 1, there were some new additions to the soundtrack and some tracks were moved around.
For example, the world map theme is completely different than the theme found in Re;Birth 1, but is a very welcome change and sounds great to listen to.
A few mistranslations found in Re;Birth 1 are now fixed. For example, the dungeon named Avenir Storage No.4 is now properly named Avenir Storage No.2. In the old games, IF would explain in the dialogue cutscenes that they were going to Avenir Storage No.2, but the dungeon was always incorrectly called No.4.
Overall, Neptunia ReVerse was a very fun experience to go through. We’ve played through the original PS3 release and the Re;Birth remakes, but ReVerse is now the definitive experience. It takes advantage of the PS5’s new technology and it polishes any small blemishes that Re;Birth 1 had.
If you’re playing Neptunia for the first time, this version would be the title you would want to start out with. If you’ve already played older games, it’s still worth playing through this, especially if you only played the PS3 original because this is a complete remake of the PS3 version.
The only PS4 release of the first Neptunia game is Neptunia Re;Birth 1 Plus, which is Japan-exclusive at the time of writing. If you’re looking for a fun JRPG with humorous dialogue and many hilarious references to the video game industry, this is a game you need to get!
If you’re craving for more Neptunia content after playing through this title, check out our review on Neptunia Virtual Stars on the PS4, a video game that is a brilliant collaboration between Virtual Tubers (V-tubers) and the Neptunia franchise.