Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a tactical Role Playing Game developed for the PS Vita by Sting and Compile Heart and published by Idea Factory International. It is a spinoff of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series of games. the game also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.
(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures are captured in-game with the PS Vita’s screen shot feature.)
The game takes place in an alternate version of the Neptunia series’ setting called Gamarket (as opposed to Gamindustri). Instead of Neptune, the game centers around Noire, the CPU for Lastation (PlayStation) The CPUs fight for control of Gamarket with their armies, and Noire is close to total victory. When a mysterious woman named Eno shows up with a way to achieve peace, however, Noire decides to trust her. It turns out to be a trap and Noire and the rest of the CPUs are stripped of their powers and that land is thrown into chaos. Noire manages to regain a bit of her power and, once she convinced the other CPUs to help her, sets out to recruit an army and free the land.
Her army is made up of former generals that followed the CPU in the Console War. Like the CPU, who are avatars of the different game consoles, the generals represent games. Again, all of them are cute anime girls. Some of them represent well known games. Lid, a sneaky lone wolf soldier with a bandana and electronic eye patch, represents the Metal Gear Solid series. Lei Fei, a ‘road pugilist”, is a nod to Chun Li and the Street Fighter series. Lady Wac represents Pac-Man. Other are from lesser known games. Each has their own unique abilities.
The game play is mostly your standard tactical RPG. At the beginning of the battle, you choose what characters to take with you. You assign a leader which gives you certain bonuses depending on which character you choose. You can have up to 5 members in your party. During your turn, you can move your characters and have them either attack, use a skill or use an item, and move. If you have enough Lily points, you can transform the CPUs into their HDD forms. One all your actions are used you finish your turn and the enemies them move. The battles end when you complete your objective (usually defeat all enemies of a boss character) or all of you characters die. Some levels however have special rules, such as defusing all bombs within 15 turns or using a switch to access the rest of the area.
Like games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, you have to equip your characters and upgrade their weapons Giving you characters better weapons and equipment will increase their attack and defence. Characters will also gain experience and level up in battle. At the end of the battle all characters not K.O.’d , even if they did not participate.
Strategy is also important as you progress through the game. There is a system called Lily Boost in which you can reduce the number of skill points used by having other characters right next to them. when you use a skill or special attack, the characters next to you give you a kiss for good luck. the more characters next to you, the less the action cost. There is a short scene with the girls pecking the attacker on the cheek and the character says a quick line (Neptune sometimes goes, “Wow! Feeling kinda funky!” OF course having al you characters so close leave then open for an area attack, \but you have to decide if it is worth the risk. You can use the points gained by this to transform the CPUS into their HDD form.
The game is well done with the story told in a similar style as the main Neptunia games. The English voice acting cast is back, so the CPUs sound like you expect them to. The graphics are good, with the characters taking on a 3D chibi (big head, small body) look which suite the tone of the game. The cinematics have the characters looking like they do in the main games. There is a lot of fan service too, with scenes of Noire and others in bikinis or in the shower (with strategically placed soap bubbles). These can be viewed at the CPU hotel n the main Lastation hub.
Also in this hub is the mission HQ, where you choose your mission, a store to buy items and equipment, the Basilicomm, where Noire lives and items and disc development where you develop new items or discs to give your characters new bonuses. There are also “locals” you can talk to that may or may not have anything interesting to say.
I had only started playing Neptunia games recently but this is one of my favorite. I liked Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1/PSP and, while this one is more tongue-in-cheek, it is as enthralling. The cast of characters are interesting and it is nice to see the focus on one of the other CPU instead of Neptune. Noire, with the rough way she treats her allies is different from Neptune’s easy going yet lazy personality. It is interesting to see Noire try to be a better friend and leader to her teammates.
Hyperdevotion Noire is a great game for fans of Tactical RPGs and the Neptunia series. It is available as a physical copy or digital download. It is rated T for Teen. Check stores and online for price and availability.