If you have kept up with the work of Idea Factory, you might have known about the Neptunia series. They are average to good JRPGs depending on your preference that have received numerous games and spin-offs across the PS4, PS Vita and PC so far. These games are known for their meta commentary on the current gaming landscape resulting in some hilarious writing around the platform wars. The basic gameplay for most of these games is rather simple but it was the cast of characters and the wacky humor that set the series apart from others.
Despite what the name might imply, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddess Online is strictly not an online multiplayer game, rather the story is set in a new gaming world called the 4 Goddess Online. The main protagonists are summoned to act as beta testers before its public launch. Just like it is the case with the Sword Art Online series, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddess Online is basically a meta commentary on the current gaming world. You are controlling a set of characters who are playing their own images in a virtual game so the story goes through a lot of layers to reach its current shape. It can be a fun distraction from the art style and humor that tries to play on the same anime cliches that have been overused for a while now.
The four main characters that you will be able to control in the game are Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert. Together, you will have to join forces to thwart the evil in the fantasy land of Alsgard. The appeal of the game is not its story but rather the setting. You are playing a fictional MMORPG and the developers have made sure to utilize it in the best possible way. The UI is also designed in a way to resemble an MMORPG even though the game is not as complex and fairly basic when it comes to the combat.
The combat is surprisingly fun offering you a set of specials and normal attacks that all work seamlessly together in battle. You also have the option to parry an enemy attack with the block button provided you can time it right, which results in a more action focused approach to the combat system. While you can also mash your way to the victory, some of the more tougher battles will require you to work on your defense in order to succeed.
There is a multiplayer component of the game but it is entirely optional. This is essentially a co-operative multiplayer mode that lets you team with other players by searching for a room or creating your own. You can share a room code with other players that lets them join it and then together you can tackle a set of missions, some of which can offer a nice reward. It is merely a distraction to the main game though, so if you aren’t interested in tackling the online multiplayer aspect, or have trouble finding rooms online, you can also skip it altogether.
There is a world map but it is divided among regions. You will get missions through the main location which is a town in the game. The characters are all represented on the map in the form of chibi artwork and you can talk to them to get some optional story events. The town can also serve as a place for getting supplies, checking out multiplayer or getting missions. You will be able to visit multiple dungeons offering you loot and items to collect and it can be a bit of grind to level up, but if you are used to the nature of an MMORPG, the same concept applies here.
The transition to Unreal Engine 4 has resulted in a huge improvement for the visuals. Perhaps this is the biggest upgrade to the series so far but I really liked what I saw on the screen. The character models in particular are gorgeously animated while I was surprised to see that even the environments don’t look that bad, which is usually the case for a low budget JRPG. I did experience some issues with the frame rate which could stutter randomly although it wasn’t clear what was causing it. This was on a PS4 Pro so I am not sure how the game fares on a regular PS4.
Overall, I feel like Compile Hearts have all the systems in the right place to create a compelling JRPG. They need to work more on the presentation and the story elements though, as they are easily the weakest aspect of their games. Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddess Online is ultimately a game which is brimming with potential and a worthy entry for fans of the Neptunia series.
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddess Online Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddess Online is a Japanese role-playing video game developed by Tamsoft and published by Compile Heart in Japan and Idea Factory in the west. Despite the title, the game is a single-player game with an online cooperative multiplayer option.
This game is strictly for the Neptunia fans although it carries some colorful visuals and a fun combat system. As the first game in the series to utilize Unreal Engine 4, it feels like a pretty solid effort from the developers.