Super Neptunia RPG review for PS4, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC, Switch
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart/Artisan Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

As someone who has played and somewhat enjoyed quite a few games in the Neptunia series, I?ve always found this to be a safe rule of thumb: when they stick to the JRPG formula, they?re not worth playing. When they branch out into something new, that?s when things get interesting.

Despite its name, Super Neptunia RPG finds the series branching out into the world of 2D, side-scrolling RPGs — think, say, Muramasa or Dragon?s Crown crossed with a Metroidvania, only with more turn-based battles. And, like many of its Neptunia predecessors, that means that it?s slightly more interesting than your usual Neptuna RPG.

Note that ?slightly more interesting? doesn?t necessarily equate with ?significantly better.?Like many of its 3D kin, for example, the game is still prone to absurd amounts of expository dialogue, with every cutscene requiring you to scroll through lots and lots of text. The battles also suffer from a high degree of repetition, which you?re more likely to notice because of the fact that every attack features its own pithy saying, and when you do the same attacks over and over again, you hear the same sayings over and over again. And, on top of all that, the game features the odd design choice of making many of the monsters you encounter represented by the same blobby creature — you don?t get to find out what monster you?re actually facing until you?re in the battle. Given that some monsters can be beaten with a single hit, while others require a more sustained approach, you can see why this may be a problem.

That said, even with its flaws, Super Neptunia RPG still has a few things going for it. Like other Neptunia games, this one approaches everything with a sense of humour and a bit of a wink, and even if that gets old after awhile, it?s still always nice to see this series skewer the normally overly-serious world of video games in a way that only it can. The game also deserves credit for working in the whole Metroidvania aspect, giving players a whole new way of exploring the world of Gamindustri.

To be sure, as a whole, Super Neptunia RPG is far from perfect. Even as it recognizes all the ways to lampoon games, it still indulges in its own worst impulses a little too often to be considered anything more than a niche. But if you?re a fan of that niche — and, to be honest, I kind of am, at this point — it delivers an experience you?re not likely to find anywhere else.

Idea Factory International provided us with a Super Neptunia RPG PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B