By Steve Baltimore / January 23rd, 2023
|Title||Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters|
|Developer||Idea Factory / Compile Heart|
|Publisher||Idea Factory international|
|Release Date||January 24th, 2023|
|Platform||PlayStation 4|5, PC via Steam|
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters for what feels like an eternity. It’s been a long time since we have seen our favorite candidates in action, and this new fully action based combat system looked like a lot of fun. I heard the story of this one was pretty dark going into it, and I was really hoping it was not going back to Conquest Ending levels of dark but only time would tell. I’ve put about 40 hours into this one and it’s time to share my thoughts. Did our favorite sisters have an amazingly fun outing or was this all just gloom and doom? Let’s find out!
The story begins as Neptune and the other Goddesses receive a distress call from the PC Continent. They depart to handle this emergency while the CPU Candidates are sent to a nearby abandoned lab to investigate its contents. There they discover a sleeping Goddess, the Ashen Goddess, and as she awakens she traps the sisters in capsules for two years! When they are awakened, they find the world is not how they left it. The latest smartphone, “rPhone” dominates all of Gamindustri markets, and Planeptune was lost due to Trendi attacks while both Neptune and Nepgear have been away. Nepgear finds herself in a state of depression having lost both her sister and her home; however, new friends Maho and Anri help Nepgear get back on her feet, and they begin to try to get things back in order. Nepgear’s struggle will be great in the face of this new enemy. Can she overcome it and take back her home and save Gamindustri?
Overall, I enjoyed the story of Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters. The story tone can get very dark at times, but like with all games in the franchise, there are plenty of light moments as well. This does what all great games in the franchise do: it takes a hard look at the industry in spoof style fashion while bringing up some important topics of discussion. This is what makes the Neptunia franchise so unique and that is not lost here. The new characters are great and add a lot of flavor to the mix here. Maho is really adorable and you fall in love with her almost instantly. Higurashi is exactly who you would expect her to be if you’ve ever read the visual novel or watched the anime. You will get a lot more out of her skits if you know a bit about either, and they did a great job with her personality. Lastly there is Reimu. I mean Shanghai Alice, and if you’re a Touhou fan you know exactly where this is going and it’s fantastic.
Graphically, Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters looks great. I reviewed the PlayStation 4 version and the character models and environments are all top quality. The girls have tons of details on their models and the animations are all really smooth as well. While there are only a few dungeon types in the game, they are done with a lot of care as well. These mostly consist of forests and caves, but the graveyard looks amazing and is probably some of the best work they have ever done. I hope the next game features more dungeon types than this one, maybe bring back some of the whimsical dungeons in Lowee or come up with something new altogether. The only graphical issues I noticed on the PlayStation 4 version were some of the textures shimmered a bit and there was something popping in every now and then. There are some load times, but I didn’t think these were unreasonable.
The audio in Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters is nicely done as well. The game opens with one of the best opening songs the series has seen in a long time, and everything else is great from there. This soundtrack features some tracks series fans will be familiar with, and some new tracks as well. The older tracks have been remixed, which is nice since it still makes us old fans feel at home, while putting a new flavor on some of our favorites. The game is voiced in both Japanese and English this time around, but I don’t know if the English side got as much dubbing as the Japanese game had, since I played in Japanese this time around. Both casts are wonderful as always, and I did check out the English dub for a few minutes; it’s the quality you would expect from IFI.
Now let’s dig into the gameplay. Some of this is exactly what you would expect from a Neptunia title. You will go from place to place on the very familiar Gamindustri map, completing story missions to move the story forward. There are plenty of sidequests that come up as well through the ever-popular Chirper app. You can take on quests, claim rewards and like Chirps from the various residents of Gamindustri. These quests are what you would expect: hunt X monster, gather X item, or sometimes you have to find lost residents. You will not only gain rewards from this, but also unlock new scouts to use in Disc Development. Making these discs will give you a ton of different buffs that are very useful in battle. First you will select a Genre, then a scout to develop the disc and finally an item to speed up the process. The more discs you make in a Genre the more likely you are to unlock a second, more powerful buff.
Combat here is all action based. The girls will move around the battlefield in real time, and you can attack enemies with combos you set up for each. These are the standard power, rush and break combos we are used to in these titles. Each move will consume some AP points, so you will need to keep this in mind as you set these up. Each girl will start off with one combo and gain a second after they level up a few times. You can gain the Combo Striping ability from disc creation that will allow you to mix these combos together as well. This is great since it gives you a ton of different combat combinations to choose from for each character. You can freely switch to any character during combat, and when the time is right you can chain combos together this way as well. The girls have Tactical Skills at their disposal as well. These are moves like Ex Multi Blaster, Cross Combination and other fan favorites in the series. When the Tactical Gauge is full, just press triangle to pull these off and you can set up two additional skills on the directional pad + triangle for easy access. Though it is good to keep in mind that the Tactical Gauge will also have to be full if you use an item. But sometimes using it for an item rather than a skill, may give you a better benefit.
Overall, I found the combat here a lot of fun. The combos are easy to setup and pull off, and being able to switch to any character easily to make bigger combos was satisfying as well. The AI does a decent job attacking and using items for the girls you are not controlling at the moment, but I feel like this could use a little refinement going forward. I was very skeptical about them taking the series in more of an action based direction, but this seems to have worked out pretty well.
Overall, I think Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters is a fine entry in the franchise. The new characters are a lot of fun, the story is well written and feels like a Nep game, and combat is really fun as well. I got some help from a friend on Twitter, so I was able to get the true ending during my playthrough. There is the endless tower you could challenge and an awesome photo mode here to play around with for hours as well. I feel like this one is well worth the $49.99 asking price. I think it’s pretty insane that IFI has decided folks who want the swimsuit DLC should have to buy the Digital Deluxe Edition at $69.99 with no way for anyone buying a physical copy to obtain these, and I probably wouldn’t be as pissed about this if there were any alternate costumes in the game, but that’s not the case. I hope something they do in the next entry is bring those back. Doing that and adding some more CGs to unlock would go a long way to making this an even more solid Neptunia title. That being said, fans shouldn’t miss this one, the sisters are still as cute as you remember, and this a fantastic adventure.
Game was provided by the publisher for review.
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