Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is the latest fast paced spin off in the popular Hyperdimension Neptunia series. While most of the games in the Neptunia series were developed by Idea Factory and Compile Heart this one was not. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed was developed by Tamsoft instead as a hack and slash style addition to the series. The game was originally published as a PS Vita exclusive for Japanese fans in August 2014 then was later localized to North America and Europe in 2015. Soon Action Unleashed will be made available to Steam users worldwide on March 21st by publisher Idea Factory International. The game naturally features the original four CPU goddesses: Purple Heart, Black Heart, Green Heart, and White Heart. The game will also include the four CPU candidate sisters which were introduced in Hyperdimension Neptunia MKII. The cast of characters is primarily made up of old characters that were introduced earlier in the series but there are two new playable characters which are Famitsu and Dengekiko. While many of the characters are the same there are many other aspects of the game that are different from the rest of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. These differences make the game unique and put it into an entirely different category.
Action Unleashed takes place during a time in which the CPUs have finally brought peace to Gamindustri. The lack of events during this time of peace also brings with it boredom for the CPUs and their followers causing the popularity of the CPUs to come to a halt. When the CPUs are presented with an interesting proposition from Famitsu and Dengekiko they take it as an entertaining opportunity to increase their popularity. In order to gather information about the CPUs for their articles Famitsu and Dengekiko follow them on their quests throughout Gamindustri. Regrettably, that is the entirety of the plot since much of the game’s focus is on the action and fan service during battle instead. The Action does not fully compensate for the lack of plot and makes the fan service appear even more shameless than the rest of the Neptunia sequels but it doesn’t fail to make the game fun. One possible upside to the lack of plot for those who want to cut the chatter and get on with the game is the minimal dialogue between the characters. As there are also many fans who enjoyed the humorous and sometimes heated chatter it cannot truly be determined whether this is a positive aspect of the game or not. Action Unleashed still shows much promise and initiative as a unique addition to an increasingly repetitive game series but didn’t meet its full potential.
While most of the Neptunia series has a continually modernizing turn based battle system, this game does not utilize the turn based system at all. Action Unleashed features an open battle system which does not use transitions to an enclosed battle space as much of the series does. Due to the nature of the battle system you can only use one character at a time in battle but during character selection you can pick two characters to switch between in battle. The first character you choose is the primary character which is the one you begin with on the field while the second character is a backup. Switching between characters is an easy way to continue on your quest in the event that your primary character becomes too injured to fight. When a character takes too much damage their cute and intricately designed outfits turn into little more than unnecessary fan service as a character’s outfit gets ripped up when they take more damage but increase in power and become capable of using their CPU goddess form sooner. While it’s great to be able to transform in this game as it’s an important part of the game series I am certain that as a great developer they could have come up with a better system for it. Regardless, the fun and fast paced battle system is without a doubt the primary selling point of the entire game.
The animation through much of the game remains smooth when it comes to walking through areas of world which contain fewer enemies. Regrettably, when it comes to areas with larger volumes of enemies the animation begins to slow and at times create noticeably lag during attacks. While the issue is common throughout the Neptunia series this is the first time it has presented any problems in battle due to the fast pace. Action Unleashed has its strong points when it comes to the consistency between the animation of the characters and backgrounds. The characters look like they fit into the world and appear to have their feet solidly to the ground rather than having the appearance of floating or popping out from the background. Although the art style has a few minor inconsistencies it further helps the game fit together the way it should. Unlike previous titles in the Neptunia series there is consistency in the art and animation during battle as well. The animation and art has significantly improved in Action Unleashed when compared to the rest of the series.
Action Unleashed could be great for someone who wants to play a game that doesn’t require much thought but still includes action. For long time fans of the series this is easily the weakest in the series when it comes to the plot, dialogue, and battle animation. Action Unleashed meets the standard of being a decent game but would require polishing up to be the amazing game which it had potential to be. I still recommend Action Unleashed to fans of the series who are looking to try something new and unique for the Neptunia series.
Pros: Solid Gameplay, Great Soundtrack, Beautiful Art
Cons: Framerate Issues, Minimal Plot
SCORE – 65%
This review is based on a digital copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed on Steam provided by Idea Factory International.