Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed Review

A lot has culminated in this moment. It wasn’t until a code landed in my inbox that I realized that I am literally the Compile Heart guy for RPG Site. I have been covering their titles for years and it feels like with every release, my name comes attached to the review with only a few exceptions.

It’s not that I am opposed to being the go-to guy who handles this company’s catalog. On the contrary - as I grew older, I appreciated the more casual, light-hearted content, moving away from the more serious and gritty subject. Hyperdimension Neptunia personifies this, and I have fallen in love with the series though they may not always hit their mark.

The writing in Neptunia U continues to be the best part of the series.

We will diverge from the typical genre the property occupies with a spin-off entry. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is an action game developed by Tamsoft, best known for Battle Arena Toshinden and recent Senran Kagura games. 

It is almost a Musou title, carried by strong RPG elements like leveling up characters and unlocking new skills and equipment.

The world is set once again in the world of Gamindustri, where everything is a parody of console gaming. Famitsu and Dengekiko, based off the popular Japanese gaming outlets, want to write killer articles about the CPUs and CPU candidates. To do so, they have the girls take on a series of hand-picked quests that best use their individual strengths.

Players are thrown into a series of challenges performed within small, arena-sized maps. Quests filter down to killing X number of enemies, lasting long enough to take on a boss, or trying to recover an item. These range in difficulty and spike towards the end of the game, but you’ll be leveling so rapidly it won’t matter.

The writing itself is serviceable with plenty of humorous moments, but ultimately, that’s not the draw here as the plot doesn’t last long enough to permit the attention.

The combat itself is simple. You will spend most of the time mashing the Square button to perform combos, breaking it up by tapping the Triangle button to do a more powerful attack. Fans of Dynasty Warriors (such as myself) or in this case Shinovi Versus will easily get used to the controls though things go far deeper than that.

Each character has their own unique set of skills that can be mapped to the different face buttons. These can be brought up and performed in battle by holding down the R button. The Cross button is used to activate their HDD transformation. The skills are limited by the amount of SP a character has and affected by the accessories equipped.

You can choose two characters to team up in quests, or you can go it alone.

If a player takes too much damage from an enemy - especially one much stronger than them - they risk having their costume destroyed. If that happens, the character can take more damage but they also have a higher chance of dishing out a critical attack.

This means you will see ladies in their underwear, but I appreciated how the localizers had fun with the concept during the dialog.

I applaud the developers for creating a fun, enjoyable experience. The game looks fantastic on the small screen with no hint of stuttering or other framerate issues which can sometimes happen in the rest of the series.

There’s plenty of detail to be had notably in the character models with all the different costumes you can unlock to equip. The only thing lacking here is the map variety, but it’s easy to see past that.

Once the game is over, there is other content to look forward to. A tournament mode has you fighting the other characters and monsters. There is also a challenge tower where you are tasked with taking each individual CPU and CPU candidate to the top. 

There are also additional cutscenes to watch, but these only last a minute or two - it’s barebones in that regard. Otherwise, there’s a high level of replayability emblematic of this genre for players to enjoy.

The important thing is that people should not be coming into this expecting a game on the same length as an RPG. It’s an action title with a main scenario that lasts about a dozen hours. It’s a fun, energetic experience that will appeal directly to fans of the series and its parody-infused concept.