Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters Weighs Down Its Characters With Boring Dungeons

Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters Weighs Down Its Characters With Boring Dungeons ...

The sheer breadth of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise's appeal has been nothing short of remarkable. What began in 2010 as a ludicrous JRPG based on a single-note gimmick has blossomed into a series with over twenty different titles. For those who have been keeping up, though, Neptunia has been coasting, relying on odd and often sloppy spin-offs to keep the brand alive.

Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters is a spin-off game that stands out from the rest. Both in plot and gameplay, Sisters VS Sisters carries itself like a spiritual successor to Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2. These "Goddess Candidates" were born from Sony's PSP and Vita, while Rom and Ram were inspired by Nintendo's DS line.

Except for the fact that portable game consoles no longer represent "current generation" hardware anymore. These days, gaming on the go is almost entirely dominated by smartphones and related devices. The PSP, PS Vita, and DS that inspired the Goddess Candidates are all effectively "dead" in the eyes of their designers (it can quite easily be transformed into a tablet).

Nepgear and her friends are left in charge of a PC Continent mission, only to be trapped and put to sleep by an unknown Ashen Goddess. They awaken two years later to discover that the world has left them behind. The nations that the console Goddesses once ruled are slowly losing ground to vicious Trendi outbreaks.

The epidemics and the monster attacks that follow them have forced people to stay indoors, relying on their phones for connection, entertainment, and even gaming. The people's obsession with their rPhone devices has weakened their ability to fight back against the Trendi menace, and they must find a new way to help themselves.

Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters is a game that consists of a lot of components. Even those who are relatively new to the world and gaming news over the previous few years will easily notice a number of parallels and almost-crass references in the storyline. As a franchise, Hyperdimension Neptunia was always careful not to let its written content distract from the discussion.

Compile Heart's writers have a lot of experience writing sisters that aren't as graphic as some of the others. Even when things are at their worst, the story never makes the mistake of getting too dark.

If there was one caveat I'd raise for the average non-fan, it's that Sisters VS Sisters is a bit harder to get into if you're not at least passingly familiar with Nepgear and the Candidate Crew. If you're totally new to the series, you might want to revisit the first two games before diving straight into.

Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters is a much less cohesive game than other titles. The main story and all the interesting interactions occur between and alongside Nepgear, Anri, and Maho, but they never feel like anything more than "along for the ride." That's great news for Nepgear followers, but others may come away less satisfied.

Gone is the traditional turn-based combat system, replaced with a real-time strategy reminiscent of Tales of titles. In a pinch, you can use the now-famous Goddess Transformation, which charges fairly slowly before the end of the game. Combat is fast-paced and is easy to get into and out of.

Between battles, you can tweak your abilities in the "Combo Maker" menu, which allows you to customize the combinations available to each character. Different moves have different properties, and some benefit from appearing in certain sequences. Moves also have an "AP" point cost, so you'll need to budget a bit to keep things interesting while you move from cutscene to cutscene.

A time-based "Disc Development" technique allows you to "craft" semi-randomized "Perks" in the form of equippable game Discs. These effects may be significant in certain combinations, enabling things like animation-canceling and other fun tweaks.

You may purchase and equip various visual aids as you please, putting and manipulating them as you please to make things even more sillier.

Boredom is likely to be higher in Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters than any Arfoire-spawned monster. It's not from the writing, which is engaging and enjoyable to play around with by Neptunia's standards. The issue is the dungeons, which are frustrating to trudge through.

This is an uncommon problem that is hard to ignore as you go from scene to scene. After all, the "meat" of any Neptunia title is in the conversations and character skits. But with time, individual player tolerances for boring dungeons will be tested. Once again, I think the walls are a different color.

Hyperdimension Neptunia is making a surprising comeback, demonstrating that Compile Heart still cares about what made its tiny franchise so appealing in the first place. It's a shame that a lack of care for spaces threatens to subvert that sense of renewal.

Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters is now available on PS4, PS5, and PC on Steam. This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, which was received from the publisher.

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