Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed Review

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(Never mind the watermark. It appears for every screenshot you take of the game.)

Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is the third spin-off game in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, the others being Producing Perfection and Hyperdevotion Noire. It is a hack and slash type of game. It was developed by Tamsoft (Senran Kagura) while Compile Heart published it. Idea Factory International, as usual, handled the localization.

  • Release date for Japan: 28th August 2014
  • Release date for NA and EU: May 19th and May 22nd 2015 respectively.

This is HDN’s take on the Dynasty Warriors / Musou style of gameplay mixed with elements from the Senran Kagura games such as clothes ripping. Does it work out? Is the game worth playing?


Story

Gamindustri. The world in which our characters, the CPUs (goddesses) and CPU candidates (sisters) reside. It’s peaceful; there hasn’t been as many monsters lately.
The game introduces 2 new characters: Dengekiko and Famitsu (both are references to Japanese gaming magazines). They are journalists who write articles about the CPUs and CPU candidates and they gain information mainly by asking them to take on various quests around Gamindustri.

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Dengekiko and Famitsu.

Basically there are 2 sides of the game’s story: One from the CPU perspective (Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert) and one from the CPU candidates perspective. (Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram). While for the most part you get to see all the characters interact with each other there are certain quests and events that will differ depending on which side you chose at the beginning of the game.

The basis of the story is that Dengekiko and Famitsu are aware of the sudden increase of requests from the Gamindustri population. They use this fact as a driving force to expose the CPUs and their sisters so they can write articles about them. This then turns into a little friendly competition of sorts but it gets out of hand soon enough when the requests does not stop coming. The 2 journalists investigate the matter. Is there somebody responsible for this? Why are there so many monsters all of a sudden?

Not much of a story compared to the other games, but that’s not saying much. These games never had deep, intricate story lines to begin with… so honestly I don’t really care. They can ditch the idea of a story altogether and I’ll still play them.

As you complete quests the storyline progresses, and new character skills and features are gradually unlocked as well.

Gameplay
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Main menu. City Watch is where the skits can be viewed. Set up is where you can change equipment, view Lily ranks and check out your medal collection.

In this type of game, you pick which quest to do then choose 2 out of 10 characters to play as. Some quests will invoke character conditions such as being restricted to using these 2 characters or soloing as certain characters. Each character plays differently with their own attack combos and skills. The combos are rather simple to pull off though, there’s no complex commands like in fighting games.

In the battlefield tons of enemies will appear. Depending on the victory conditions, they will continually respawn until they have been fulfilled. While this may sound ridiculous, it just gets tiresome really quickly. Only a few enemies will attempt to attack you at a time though but you do need to be careful, you can get comboed by them or even from boss type enemies.

While there are different types of quests the main type will be either to defeat a certain number of enemies or defeat a boss type enemy. Other objectives include collecting items instead, or more obscure conditions such as defeating 2 specific enemies at the same time or constantly using the tag team function to deal damage. Some of these conditions can be seen in something called “Irregular quests”. They won’t have an accurate description of the quest but a code or clue instead. If you’re smart enough you can actually clear these quests on your first try. If not, the characters will let you know the victory conditions after you have given up.

My main complaint about these quests is that they can take anywhere from 2-3 minutes to a whooping 10-20 minutes just because the regular enemies keep spawning and the bosses hasn’t spawned yet. Unlike most RPGs which often has bosses at the end of a dungeon or a certain area, these battlefields are not often used for exploration except in a few quests.
Oh, and also the format of this game is terrible… QUEST, WIN, QUEST, WIN, EVENT maybe, QUEST, WIN, EVENT maybe, etc etc. It’s extremely limited, not much to do besides quests…

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Battle screen. Pressing the R button opens the character’s skill set. The ability to transform is also in there.

Other gameplay features of HDNU includes:

  • Medal collection: Enemies will drop medals upon being defeated. There are various types of medals depending on the type of enemy. If you collect enough medals for each type you can unlock various bonuses such as new equipment and stat boosts.
  • Tag-team: In most quests you can pick 2 characters to use. As their HP, EXE and SP bars are separate, feel free to switch characters if the situation calls for it. Under certain conditions new skills and abilities may also become unlocked with the 2 characters you’ve chosen.
  • Lily rank: A staple in the series. Each character has a lily ranking of the other playable characters which can be increased by pairing them up. Certain bonuses become available if that pair of characters is chosen and the ranking is high enough as well.
  • Transformation: Another staple in the series. Characters are able to access HDD mode (and their special skill) if the EXE bar is filled up. HDD mode alters their appearance as well as increasing their stats. Their attack combos and skills are also changed.
  • Clothes ripping: Taking a page from Senran Kagura, by being damaged too much the girls’ clothing will be ripped off. While this will decrease their defenses, their offensive stats will increase as a result.

Outside of quests, you can also view skits and character events which are unlocked as you play through the game. I do love that all of these are voiced, which is rare for a localized RPG, so it’s a nice touch. Usually these kind of events and dialogue are left unvoiced but in most cases they are voiced in Japanese.

Graphics, Presentation
Despite it being action orientated the framerate is pretty consistent. I have only experience minor lag during a few moments of gameplay and they were related to me being positioned in a corner (the camera goes bananas when it happens so it’s hard to concentrate). There’s a bit of emphasis on the body physics as well due to the game being a bit more fanservice-y than usual. Otherwise it’s standard HDN style graphics. If you’ve seen them before, you’ve seen everything. It’s bright, colourful, wacky… the battle interface / UI is pretty clean, doesn’t take up too much of the screen at all yet provides you with enough information.

These guys LOVE LOVE LOVE to reuse their assets over and over… it can be tiring honestly but hey, it works. It saves money and doesn’t require as much work and effort as trying to create new ones altogether.

I will point out that these guys did a pretty good job trying to convert the characters’ skills into a real-time, more action oriented version since the majority of their games are turn-based and thus are free to go nuts with their skill animations.

  • See the pic below for an example. This is Neptune / Purple Heart’s special skill Neptune Break. In the other games Neptune / Purple Heart flies around slashing a single enemy from various angles before slamming it down and releasing a shockwave. In HDNU however, Neptune Break has her creating a big purple orb which traps the enemy and anyone else nearby, then proceeds to slash them in the same fashion. It’s a nice change to what they would usually do and I applaud them.

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A special skill in action. The game flow stops when these are used so try to use them in a optimal moment

Again, the dialogue is told through the usual visual novel style but it’s more active. Up to 5 characters can be shown at once and the game does switch the portraits back and forth so we know who is going to talk in that scene or which group of characters the event is focused on. Heck, even their facial expressions change DURING dialogue so it looks like they’re literally reacting to what someone is saying. It’s the little things that makes these events and skits enjoyable to watch and listen to, even in this format.

Music, Voices
I’ll give credit where it’s due. Out of the more recent HDN games, this game probably offers the most original music pieces… which still isn’t much, but it’s an achievement. As usual, fans of the series will recognize certain pieces such as the character themes and battle music. I do like that the music often changes depending on what’s happening in the battlefield. (Eg: When a boss type enemy appears or when a characters has transformed)
While I do love the English dub voices as usual, when it comes to their battle dialogue… it’s a mixed bag. I like the echo effect they use when they shout their skill names but… lets just say some characters (Noire) become annoying really quickly because they will scream unnecessarily for 3 seconds whenever they attack. And this happens too often.
I really wished there was a separate volume setting for battle dialogue… ugh.

Conclusion
Honestly, Action Unleashed can be skipped if you’re looking for an alternative of the Musou / Dynasty Warriors games. If you’re a big fan of the HDN series however, it’s a blast to play through. It is fairly short so it can be finished relatively quickly. However the overall gameplay is really limited and gets repetitive too quickly. The characters can only do so much in action that it just feels like you’re spamming one button the majority of your game time.  It’s recommended to play the game in short intervals.

I don’t know if this game is worth the $40 US but to me it is. It does show potential of what this game could’ve been and how the characters are portrayed in a real-time environment… hopefully we’ll get to see a future title in this format but with more depth and features. (Hoping the new Blanc game does justice compared to this). And here’s this fanservice shot for reading the review. *points down*

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One thought on “Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed Review

  1. The Otaku Judge June 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Thanks for the fan service shot 🙂 I prefer to grind in the Neptral Tower because like you say some quests can takes ages due to the spawning enemies.

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