By Steve Baltimore / February 27th, 2015
|Title||Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart|
|Developer||Compile Heart, Sting|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||February 17, 2015|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a spin-off of the Hyperdimenison Neptunia series. Instead of the story taking place in Gameindustri like the previous titles, this one takes place in Gamarket. The world is similar, but, in this world, each city is controlled by a great general. These generals represent some of the various game companies we all know and love. Noire is trying unite Gamarket under Lastation’s banner, but she soon meets a mysterious woman who convinces her to do something unwise. Now, Noire must set out on a quest to once again win the generals’ trust and unite Gamarket.
While the story takes place in a completely different manner than usual, I really enjoyed it. The Goddesses we all know reprise their roles brilliantly, and the cast of new characters is great. I really loved Moru, Wyn and Estelle. Their interactions with Noire are just fantastic. You get a new scene every time you recruit a new general, as well as some fantastic CG. The story also had lots of great jokes, and, of course, Nep breaking the fourth wall as often as possible.
I really love the graphics here, since I’m a sucker for super deformed characters. These are chibi versions of the characters we know, and the designs of the newcomers are just plain adorable. The environments looks great, as well. They look very much like what is seen in the main series, scaled down for chibis. The monster designs are the same, but look very different super deformed, this is to fit in with environments and characters.
While there isn’t much in the way of new music, the track selection they picked out is pretty good. Some of your favorite battle themes from other titles in the series are all here and fit well. Though some would consider the music the weakest part of the series, these songs have grown on me over time. Songs like “Solid Park” really pump me up for some combat. The English voice actors from the previous titles make their return once again and are joined by some new talent for the new characters. I have to say Idea Factory International did a great job picking the voice actors for the new characters, as their voices fit the characters well, and they do a wonderful job.
Now, before we get into the gameplay, let’s talk a bit about the world hub. It is basically just a town with a menu. From here, you can choose to shop for new gear and items, develop a disc to give your characters a boost, create items and much more. All of this is pretty simple and self explanatory. The unique thing is not only do you control the units in battle, you also play the role of Noire’s secretary. You help keep Noire on track while rebuilding her Basilicom and dealing with requests from her citizens. At the start of each chapter, you will be given some request and a few different answers. I would save before I picked one since you cannot go back if you get it wrong. Answering these correctly will trigger some interesting scenes between Noire and yourself. You can also upgrade the living space with new furniture and complete remodels.
The gameplay department is where this title is very different from anything else in the series. Instead of a turn-based RPG, this is a full-blown grid-based strategy RPG. Hyperdevotion Noire was co-developed by Sting, and, if you know who they are, then you know they are very experienced in this genre. While some may think this makes this game more difficult to play, it really doesn’t. Thanks to three different difficulty settings, you can pick at which level of critical thinking you want to play. That’s not to say this is a cakewalk on Easy, because it is not.
Battles are a grid-based affair. You will click one unit and be given the usual move, attack, skill and other choices. Your characters will move differently depending which direction they are facing. The path they are going to take will be displayed on the map. This will become important later on when dodging all the hazards that have been thrown onto the maps. There will be other obstacles thrown in your way, as well, which include moving platforms, teleporting squares and even logs to help you cross a river. Depending on your victory conditions, you may have to adjust your thinking to accommodate the hazards.
When you use skills in battle and the girls are standing next to each other, they will give each other a peck on the cheek. You can skip this little cut-in from the options if you would like. You can just hear “I Kissed a Girl,” right? Anyways, this will help you build up Lily Points. You can use these points to make the Goddesses use HDD Form or use special skills for big damage. The more units you have touching when you use a skill, the faster the points will build up. Also, having units standing together will give you discount on SP and LP used by skills. The drawback is that, like any other strategy game, units close together can all be hit by an enemy skill easily.
I have to say I really loved this game a lot more than I thought I would. The strategy gameplay is as solid as you will find in any other game in the genre. Throw in some of the classic Neptunia humor and a cast of new characters and you have yourself one hell of a game. It took me around 25 hours to complete the main story. This can be longer depending on how many sidequests you take and how many event scenes you want to unlock. If you like strategy RPGs or are a fan of the Neptunia series, this on is a no-brainer at the $39.99 price tag.
Game was obtained from the publisher for review purposes.
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is available on Amazon:
Compile HeartHyperdevotion NoireIdea Factory InternatiaonalSting