Review: Neptunia ReVerse

The Neptunia series has become a low-key powerhouse over the past decade, starting off with humble beginnings on the PS3 before shining on the Vita and gaining steam on PC thanks to a larger global audience and a bump up in graphical fidelity. Over the course of that ten year span, the franchise has gone from being a turn-based JRPG, a tactical RPG, a side-scrolling shooter, a third-person shooter, and now with Neptunia ReVerse, back to a turn-based RPG as it’s a full-on remake of the original adventure. Hyperdimension Neptunia has already seen one re-release in the form of Re;Birth1, but this is the first full-on remake in the franchise’s history and brings with it upgrades via the PS5’s hardware and quality-of-life improvements as well, making it a fantastic starting point for those who have wanted to get into the series, but didn’t know where to start.

It’s the same kind of issue that plagued the Yakuza series, where players have almost too many options to start with — do you go with the latest entry, the first, maybe a mid-point or spin-off game? It can be tough to parse things out going into a series fresh — especially one that has gone through as many iterations and genres as the Neptunia franchise has. The core of the series is that players use a party full of console manufacturer-inspired characters with 3D dungeon exploration and a circular battle grid that makes things a mix of a turn-based JRPG and an easier to follow tactical RPG all at once. The main character is Neptune — named after Sega’s failed Neptune console, with Noire the PlayStation representative, Blanc the Wii representative, and Vert the Xbox representative — with the in-game console names being changed to protect trademarks and all, but the references being quite clear based on color schemes.

The four goddesses of the gaming lands normally go to war, but now must unite against a threat that aims to take out the entire Gameindustri. It’s a bit silly, but the characters themselves truly shine more than the story itself and that holds doubly true for the voice cast. From day one, this cast has worked wonderfully together has tremendous chemistry in every game — and that holds true in this remake as well. ReVerse features the same core story being told, but does allow players to have a Greatest Hits-esque assortment of playable characters throughout the series, with quality-of-life improvements thrown in for good measure. Neptune now offers tutorials to make the systems easier to understand, which does help if someone is a new player to the series.

The core battle system is a ton of fun and allows players to go around a circular battlefield and attack in turns, with each characters’ attack radiuses being different. ReVerse features four playable characters at once instead of just three, and that helps speed battles up since it’s now possible to take out foes in fewer overall turns thanks to the additional character in play. The key to the combat is to properly place your characters’ attacks in such a way that they’ll damage the most amount of foes. If you aren’t careful, an attack will only hurt one foe when it could hit two — and in the process, take one of them out completely or if you’re lucky, take two out in one turn thanks to ensuring the proper placement of your attack. ReVerse is very much like a tactical RPG in that regard because proper troop placement principles apply even if it’s not a 1:1 comparison for the genre.

Combat is fast-moving and that holds true for dialogue as well, which can be either fast-forwarded or skipped entirely. This is great for folks who just want to battle, or especially those who just want to see the revamped graphics and all of the dungeons visually upgraded, having already played Re;Birth1 or the original PS3 release and knowing the story front to back. Having the ability to either enjoy the original game or an arranged mode that unlocks 27 total playable characters right away alongside XP adjustments, battle adjustments, and redone elemental balances across both arranged and original mode to help move the game along. The prior new game+ content can now be unlocked in the first playthrough as well in the arranged mode, and enemies have been nerfed a bit when it comes to auto-healing abilities in some battles. The core goal here is clearly to make it a more fun and accessible experience and that has been achieved nicely.

Visually, the game has been rebuilt in a new engine and it allows the graphics to look better in some regards while still looking like a PS3 title at times. It’s odd because one moment, there will be impressive reflection effects on puddles as the cast and attacks reflect off of it accurately and then in the next camera cut, you’ll see all of these older-looking environmental textures for walls and ground surfaces as a whole that give the illusion of depth, but just look shaded in. That’s all they are, but no depth has been added to the environments themselves and it’s disappointing. Still, the series has never been all about graphics — so it’s only so disappointing given the franchise’s history and it still looks good enough, with animations being revamped and looking a lot smoother. This holds especially true for combat, with more natural-looking animations being used in place of the formerly-limited animation for attacks.

Neptunia ReVerse‘s soundtrack and voice acting remain fantastic, with strong weapon work as well. Each kind of attack, whether it’s with a sword, magic or gun sounds impactful with various booming levels of sound being used to showcase just how well a hit landed. If it doesn’t do a ton of damage, it will be a weak effect while a stronger, flush hit results in a bigger, booming effect. The voice cast was pitch-perfect the first time around and the fact that the voice work holds up so well a decade later is proof positive that getting it right the first time can be a godsend later on. There’s no re-recording needed when the cast understands the characters and their sense of humor comes off perfectly in the adventure. The soundtrack remains a lot of fun even if it isn’t the most memorable in the world. It’s boisterous and fun and fits the light-hearted tone of the adventure overall.

Closing Comments:

Neptunia ReVerse is a must-buy for anyone who has wanted to get into the long-running series, but didn’t know where to start. It’s the best-balanced entry in the series yet and also the best-looking thanks to a whole-new engine being used to ensure that the franchise can look as good as possible moving forward. As a turn-based RPG, it’s a fast-moving one while still evoking tactical RPG mechanics and striking a fine balance between being fair to players, yet still offering up a fair challenge. The new arrange mode allows veteran players to mix things up and enjoy the first game’s adventure in new and exciting ways.