Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Idea Factory / Compile Heart / Tamsoft
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise. Specifically, I generally love when the series tries something new, and hate when it sticks to its usual JRPG formula. Seeing as Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is outside of the mainline series, that should bode well for it, right?

Turns out: no. While Cyberdimension Neptunia does seem to exist outside the main Hyperdimension Neptunia games — and, as its title hints, inside a fake MMO — that, by itself, doesn’t make it any good. What made games like Producing Perfection and Hyperdevotion Noire worthwhile was that they had fun with their adopted genres. By contrast, Cyberdimension Neptunia is pretty dull.

And “dull” goes for both the action and the plot development. The cutscenes here feature endless, cringeworthy dialogue — which, admittedly, is something that could be said for most Neptunia games, but there’s just something particularly painful going on here here. Maybe the fact you’re playing a game within the game adds an untenable layer of irony, but whatever the reason may be, watching the eponymous 4 Goddesses prattle on about how much they enjoy playing their MMO is painfully boring. Essentially, think of how boring it is to play Sword Art Online games and watch the characters go on about how interesting their game is, and you have a good idea of what makes Cyberdimension Neptunia insufferable…only double it, because it’s done with the game’s standard winking.

Likewise, the battles here are repetitive and uninspired. Again, depending on your feelings towards the series’ other games, you may think that’s nothing new, but here it just feels much more noticeably bland. Like in a real MMO (I guess), here you travel from world map to hub world and back, taking on the same monsters in new areas before heading home to talk with more NPCs in the town. Even if the monsters were a little more diversified, though, I’d still have problems with the combat: it almost all feels so light, for lack of a better description. You may be hacking and slashing your way through groups of enemies at a time, but all your attacks feel oddly weightless. It’s the kind of thing that could’ve been fixed with just a bit more controller vibration (which does kick in once you get hit), and without it, it just never feels like your hacks or your slashes are properly connecting.

Which, really, could be said about the whole game: it never connects. MMOs and faux-MMOs are ripe for parody, which you’d think would make them ideal targets for Hyperdimension Neptunia’s brand of game-centric humour, but as Cyberdimension Neptunia shows, it’s apparently harder than it looks.

Idea Factory International provided us with a Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C