Idea Factory International, Inc. / Compile Heart, Sting
With Idea Factory porting many Neptunia games to the PC recently, Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is their latest installment. Noire is the main heroine in this spin-off with the series set in the new world of Gamarket, different from the main franchise’s Gamindustri.
Steam describes the series: “In this chibi-style strategy role-playing game you’ll amass an army of game-referencing allies, fight on trap-laden maps, and beef up Lily Rank for crazy damage. But look out for status ailments or you might be (literal) tofu! You ain’t seen the Neptunia characters like this before!”
The setting of this series takes place in an alternate world of Gamarket where the four CPUs are at war with each other like in the original games, except that Noire is about to win the fight for supremacy. However, as Noire is about to unite the world under Lastation, a mysterious force appears in which the four CPUs must now work together to prevent the destruction of Gamarket.
The most obvious difference between Hyperdevotion Noire and the main franchise is of course Noire being the protagonist this time, hence no “Neptunia” in the title. As it happens, the game makes puns about that fact with Neptune complaining about how she’s not the main heroine anymore. Not only that, the game is placed in the perspective of literally Player, Noire’s secretary and a character to allow actual players to self-insert themselves in the game.
Another difference is the gameplay style. The game does away with the turn-based JRPG gameplay and implements a strategic RPG style instead. Though strategic RPGs may be unfamiliar to longtime Neptunia fans, the game makes it nearly effortless to ease into by allowing players to get accustomed to the gameplay before implementing new features. And these features make Hyperdevotion Noire a very fun strategic RPG game. There are various terrain elements such as sinkholes, transportation vehicles, healing stations, treasure chests, and much more, allowing the game to be quite diverse. And with lily boosts, goddess transforms, and the likes, the game still distinguishes itself as a Neptunia series. And for those impatient players, there are various setting to allow turns to go faster.
What Hyperdevotion Noire also has to offer is the huge cast of about 20 new and playable characters. These characters are also parodies of other game franchises such as Lee-Fi a parody to Street Fighter’s Chun-Li and Ein Al a parody to Final Fantasy. As players progress through the game, more of these characters are recruited as generals to fight in Noire’s army. With dozens of characters to choose from, players have a myriad of options to choose from in order to find the best units to fight in a certain mission.
While not fighting in missions, there are other things to do such as visiting the disc developer, item developer, and shop to further upgrade your units. In the CPU hotel, you can chat with other characters as well as view CG, music, and other components. The Basilicom is the most entertaining aspect in the Lastation hub where players can upgrade Noire’s home with furniture and decorations by using Sim Points along with interacting with her, sometimes even intimately.
To be quite honest, my most favorite aspect of the game was being able to speak with Noire as a “Player” and view the affectionate side of her, a contrast to her usually stern outward demeanor. It is like a subtle dating sim disguised in this strategic RPG.
The gameplay was quite enjoyable with various unique aspects one would not see in other Neptunia or strategic RPG games. Going through missions may feel tedious at times, but one can take a break from fighting by visiting the Basilicom and having a chat with Noire to boost one’s spirits.
Overall, it is a very fun game for franchise fans and newcomers alike, especially if one is a Noire fan. It is definitely a great addition to the ever-growing Neptunia franchise.