Having met with a relatively positive review upon releasing on PlayStation Vita, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed decided to take a shot at the PC market. Will this port be as fun as the handheld version?
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed whisks us away to the parody-filled world of Gamindustri once again, following the four CPUs (Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert), the four CPU Candidates (Nepgear, Ram, Rom, and Uni), and even two journalists who are series newcomers (Dengekiko and Famitsu). The journalists are named after certain popular Japanese culture and gaming outlets.
These two journalists decide to approach each group of girls with different story ideas. While one wants to show of just how awesome the CPUs are, the other wishes to show the powers of the CPU Candidates. They begin by offering up a couple of different quests themselves, which you’ll need to complete. Soon after, a bunch of other citizens will begin offering up quests, though these are typically just reasons for you to go kill things.
When all’s said and done, the story itself is fairly standard fare. You can bypass part or all of the story with a button press, but if you hit the button by accident, you can hit it once again to stop the speeding text. There’s also another button you can press in order to view previous dialogue if you make this mistake.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed shines with its gameplay. Similar to the Dynasty Warriors series, you have access to both strong and weak attacks with each of your combatants, and simplistic combos will trigger new abilities. While in the field, you will also be able to double-jump, dash, utilize even strong abilities (which are limited by a mana gauge), and even transform into the signature HDD mode, which is a super powerful version of the character you are controlling.
As you explore, you can freely move the camera around. There are also plenty of display settings that players can tweak if they feel that the user interface is too cluttered. One other thing that fans will likely be pleased to hear is that you can change between the original Japanese and English voice acting.
In terms of missions, they typically fall into two main categories. These are the “Kill x amount of enemies,” and “Kill this specific enemy”. That said, there are special quests that leave it up to you to attempt to figure out the condition for victory.
Back on the note of combat, it is honestly surprisingly deep for a simple hack-and-slash title. That said, gamers who decide to take on the standard difficulty most likely will not even need half of the available tricks in the system.
As you battle, you may see the girls become scantily clad, thanks to the costume break mechanic. If you get hit too often or even just utilize too many strong attacks, your character’s clothes will tear. Those who enjoy this type of fan service may be excited to hear that, as you progress, it’s possible to gain clothing that will rip even easier or come in pre-ripped form. Those who do not like this type of fan service can gain clothes that will not rip no matter what, but it is still present in the early levels at least.
As enemies are defeated, they will typically drop various medals that you can pick up. These medals are unique to each enemy type and are utilized to gain different items, abilities, and upgrades. Once you have a specific number for what you want, you can enter your setup screen in town and redeem them for what you’re interested in. The medals also are not lost once redeemed, so there’s no real point in simply hording them for an item you want later.
In terms of pacing, there is a bit of an issue. Early on, the enemies are not much of a challenge, even on the hardest (initially available) difficulty, tending to go down in a mere hit or two and allowing players to clear them out quite quickly without any real difficulty, That said, the models themselves, which tend to act as references to popular characters, including the Dragon Quest slimes and even the Pac-Man ghosts, are fantastic.
If you have played any of the Senran Kagura games, then you will have an idea about how much more confined the levels feel if you compare them to the likes of Dynasty Warriors. Several of the levels are even simple arenas for you to battle the hordes of enemies in. Others do have several gates that open upon achieving a certain goal (typically killing a certain number of or specific enemy), for the most part they just lead to another area filled with more things for you to destroy. As you can likely tell, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is more focused on the action rather than exploration. Whether this is good or bad depends entirely on your point of view.
Honestly, I enjoyed trying out every character and experimenting with the different styles of gameplay as I played the Vita version. It was still fun in the Steam version, however less so, likely because I had already done it before.
Once you have managed to clear the first few quests in the game, it opens up quite a bit. You will be able to hang out with the various members of the game’s cast to unlock additional scenes, you can view additional scenarios, mess around with your current loot, try out new gear combinations, and even adjust your various bonus abilities.
As mentioned in the Vita review, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is certainly built around replay value, counting on players to challenge missions repeatedly in an attempt to obtain better scores, gear, and ultimately achieve the maximum level with all of the characters.
Post-game content is also interesting, however. Some examples of what you can expect include a new difficulty and a special arena mode in which you can pit the girls of Neptunia in tournaments featuring one-on-one battles.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed was a fun action game on the Vita, and it remains one on PC as well. It makes a solid attempt at bringing the Hyperdimension series into the hack-and-slash genre, and, while it does have flaws, it is quite easy to overlook them thanks to the game’s deep combat system and multitude of extras.
Final Score: 3.75/5