It’s another Neptunia game! My, uh, hyper-devotion to this series and associated developer borders on the fanatical, so naturally I had to try the latest entry lickety split when it showed up in the enormous “Games That Need Reviewing” box that now serves as both my home and prison. I’ll do my best to remain impartial…which is fairly easy in this case. Non-fans need not apply when it comes to Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart.
Hyperdevotion Noire changes up the lead role; now the plot focuses on Noire, the CPU representing Sony’s consoles, and her homeland of Lastation. Technically you play as her secretary, having been pressed into that role in the first hour or so, but it’s basically a game about Noire. Neptune and the rest of the cast show up and stick around, so the change of protagonist doesn’t really change the formula all that much; Noire herself is a little less humorous than Neptune, sure, but it’s still a humorous game with more than a few laughs. The plot is the usual fluff – Lastation is in danger and Noire has lost her CPU power, so you’ll need to help her fix all of that in the usual ways, including dealing with Arfoire’s usual villainous nonsense. It’s a Neptunia game.
When it comes to the combat system, Hyperdevotion Noire goes the opposite direction of the recently-reviewed Agarest: Generations of War 2: it takes a turn-based JRPG system and switches to a tile-based SRPG. Whether this is a good or a bad thing really depends on you. I’m not especially great at SRPGs, but gosh darn it, this is Neptunia so I powered through it regardless.
A few of the classic Neptunia systems are present and accounted for, like gearing up the CPU characters’ HDD forms to affect the stat boosts they receive when transforming. New systems include teaming characters up in combat to generate Lily Points, which are spent on a variety of combat techniques as well as activating HDD. Characters who are often teamed up will enjoy decreased LP requirements for their skills. There’s also a little life-sim/virtual-pet thing going on with Noire, which you can indulge in if you’d like; it reminded me a bit of similar systems in the Project Diva titles. There’s bonus loot in it for you if you want to go for that.
As always, this is a Neptunia game that looks and sounds fantastic. Combat scenes now use a super-deformed style which I was a little ambivalent about, but the character art outside of combat is as great as ever, as is the voice acting. And, as always, this is an Idea Factory game so sometimes the combat grows teeth and bites you in the butt, so you’ll need to grind a bit to make up for it…though, again, that might just be because I’m terrible at SRPGs. You’re probably not considering this one without having played one of the previous titles in the series, so you know what’s coming.
And that might actually be the biggest failing of Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart; like similar spin-off title Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, the game assumes familiarity with the series and offers just about nothing to anyone who isn’t a fan. It’s fanservice through and through, in every sense of the term. If you’re already in love with Neptunia, then this one’s for you! It does what it sets out to do nicely. If you’re not, well…maybe start with the Steam version of Re;Birth 1 instead?