Once again, we return to the world of Gaminsudstri In Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation, the remake of HDN Victory on the PS3. In the original release, Victory brought a wide range of improvements to the series, which were then used as the basis for the Re;Birth games. Now, Re;Birth3 further refines the formula set by the previous games to create the definitive version of the best of the 3 original Neptunia games.
Set a little while after the previous game (Re;Birth2 / mk2), Neptune somehow ends up being thrown head first into an alternate dimension resembling the gaming landscape of the late 80’s/early 90’s. Stuck in this parallel world (“Ultradimension”), Neptune must find a way back home to her own dimension (“Hyperdimension”), but not before meeting the locals and defeating the shadowy organization, the ‘Seven Sages’ who aim to cause chaos for Gamindustri. As with the world that Neptune is from, this new dimension also contains multiple nations along with the CPUs, the goddesses that established and lead those nations.
Mirroring the heated gaming wars of the early 90’s between Nintendo and Sega, the nations of gamindustri in this alternate dimension feature lowee & planeptune as the two main places for people to flock to, with Lowee ruled by Blanc, as usual, but this dimension’s Planeptune has another CPU, Plutia, instead of Neptune.
As one of the new main characters in Re;Birth3, Plutia features heavily in the story, as well as her sadistic alter-ego when she activates her HDD (Hard Drive Divinity) transformation. This odd character trait plays into the verbal humour between the characters throughout the course of the story which will lead to some pariticularly funny encounters during the event scenes. Familiar faces also return in Re;Birth3, with Ultradimension’s versions of Vert, Noire and Blanc all showing up to join your party soon enough.
With the game set in this alternate dimension, away from most of the other characters you would have encountered in previous games, RB3 focuses on the CPUs, with the human characters unplayable in the core version of the game. Even IF & Compa who have been around since the beginning of the series will be absent from your party for this outing. The reduced size of the cast in RB3 lets the characters get more screen time during cutscenes rather than having a dozen plus characters in your party you need to keep track of. Although, the extended cast of characters that were available in Re;Birth2 can be added to the game via the free DLC packs that are available alongside the launch of the game on the PlayStation store.
Being the 3rd remake for the series, Re;Birth3 has naturally has built upon the imrpovements made in the last two games, as well as streamlining various gameplay elements and introduced several additional features to help make the game more enjoyable and less frustrating or tedious to play. In battles, you no longer have to worry about a separate EXE meter for for your EXE Drive skills, as this has been merged into the SP meter, reducing the need for you to fill the EXE meter separately, as you would in previous games. The remake system from the past two Re;Birth games makes a welcome return, allowing you to collect plans to change different parts of the game to your liking if you’re struggling with getting past some enemies, you have the ability to activate plans to weaken enemies, or power up your characters. Features like this could be especially useful when you’re grinding levels in a dungeon. Since grinding in a Neptunia game is pretty much an inevitability, these features help to reduce the need to have to grind as much
The battles are pretty much the same style of turn based action you’ve seen in previous games, utliizing normal attacks, combo atacks, skills and EXE Drive skills. Re;Birth3 introduces the ability to add an extra attack slot to your characters’ combo attack chain, allowing you to attack up to 5 times in a combo; but these have to be activated by finding the plans for each character and each attack type for the remake system. So it’ll probably be a while before you’re able to take full advantage of that new feature in battle, making it more of a reward for completing the plans and progressing further into the game instead of an upfront boost to your attack ability for making the battles easier. It seemed that compared to Victory and earlier Re;Birth games, the EXE Drive skills don’t come into play until you’re about a 3rd, maybe even just under half of the way through the story mode.
Stella’s Dungeon is also brought back for this latest game, with a few changes to how it was used in Re;Birth2. The scouts system which also was introduced in Victory has been integrated into the new version of Stella’s Dungeon, which allows Stella to take one of several different scouts along with her on her journey in order to find items or places. Since this mode can run autonomously while you’re playing the main game or have the game turned off, it can be great for collecting random loot and items while you’re busy doing other stuff although the later levels of the dungeon will take quite a bit of time to complete, taking several hours to complete an area.
As always, a large portion of the dialog in the game (particularly Neptune’s) is based on various game or anime/manga references, along with random internet jokes and memes sprinkled on top. I enjoyed the jokes and references littered throughout the event scenes as well as the interactions between the characters, but with any sort of referential humour, your mileage will vary from person to person, especially with the internet meme stuff which can come off as a bit too forced in spots. But, if you’ve played at least a bit of any of the other games in the series, you probably already have an idea as for what to expect from the chatter between the characters. If you haven’t played any of the other games and were considering jumping in, Re;Birth3 is as good a point as any to start, since quite a bit of basic info about characters and the world is provided in the story, so you don’t necessarily need a full knowledge of the previous games’ events to be able to follow this one.
The enhancements made in this remake have definitely improved on the original but the jump from Victory to Re;Birth3 compared to Neptunia 1 to Re;Birth1 or even Mk2 to Re;Birth2 seems less spectacular than the previous two, simply because Victory was a much better game than either of the two first PS3 Neptunia titles. The dialog is pretty much the same in most places as the original NISA script from Victory, with some changes made here and there for slight reworkings of sentences or updates to references and jokes to make them relevant.
Graphically, the game looks largely the same as the others in terms of characters and dungeons, with some changes to the menus and general UI design of the on screen elements. Since the dungeon environments have been repeated several times in past games, this would be one of the main areas that could have done with a new coat of paint or a reshuffle so that you aren’t running around in the same environments you’ve seen dozens of times before in previous games. Hopefully with the remakes now finished, we can look forward to the series starting fresh with the next main game in the series, Victory II.