Continuing to expand and bring more of the Hyperdimension franchise to the PS Vita, Idea Factory gives us a new story and spin on those familiar characters as well as a handful of new characters we haven’t seen before with Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart, a newly named titled which ditches the old dungeon exploring role-playing game gameplay and instead is a strategy role-playing game and also sees Noire as the main character too.
Hyperdevotion Noire is a SRPG in it’s purest and simplified form, the maps all feature a grid structure that is easy to navigate and while the maps are on the smaller size you can see just about all the traps and placement of the enemies without any issues. One thing I noticed is that there are more hazards from the maps than in most of the strategy role-playing games I have played in the past, this can be from electric fences to conveyor belts that will bring you to a more enemy filled area. The evolution of the Lily System plays a big part in combat in this game as just like in the past having two or more characters next to each other can sometimes create joint attacks. As you progress through the game the missions will get larger and allow you to select more units to bring into battle with you, since the amount of characters you can recruit and have available has increased a lot this time around it greatly affects who you not only bring into each battle but how you will play as well.
Out of combat, the game has added a new mini-mode called ‘Sim Noire’ which is a way to build a bond with Noire and the unnamed Secretary you play as, this is done through answering questions and requests from residents of Gamarket and also upgrading her room with new items. While this is a new element to the game it leaves a little more to be desired but if there is a sequel I can see this mode getting fleshed out and feeling more rewarding. Making it’s return to the game is item development which if you have played the previous Hyperdimension games you will be familiar with and once again if you want to create most if not all of the items it will require a good amount of grinding and replaying of previous missions.
In the alternate universe of Gamarket, Noire is supreme commander and rules over the other CPUs with an iron fist. However, after being tricked by a mysterious individual, she causes all the CPUs to lose their shares, and each country’s generals run amok. Thankfully, before she can be defeated by a simple monster, you, the player, appear, and give her enough faith to fight on. Becoming her personal secretary, you must help Noire rebuild her army of loyal troops, before order can be restored to the land. This marks the first time in the franchise (besides PP) that you get to play as a new character that isn’t a CPU and the big shocker is that you play as a male character, that’s a big first as well. As you progress through the game you get to recruit your old generals and meet both new and familiar faces that you know and love from the Hyperdimension games.
Just like it’s Hyperdimension franchises roots Hyperdevotion showcases the anime art style for the characters during the game’s dialogue sequences, but, where the game brings a new spin in the design department is during combat missions the game goes with a more chibi-esq style for the characters which I hate to admit does make the characters look cute (yeah I used that word in a review for the first time ever). The map designs are more varied visually then most of the dungeons you could explore in the other games in the franchise and are filled with traps and other obstacles, each with different themes and an even larger enemy variety than there has been to date.
One thing I really like about this game is the cast of voice actors they have working in this game, wince there are more characters this time around you can really tell the diversity among the characters and how they sound in relations to their personalities, also usually when it comes to JRPGs and SRPGs I try to stick with Japanese audio and English subtitles but with this franchise I’m more than okay with the English audio. I will say my only complaint is most of the music is just recycled from the previous Hyperdimension games except for the opening movie and when you beat the game, other than that I have no complaints in the audio and visual choices made for this game.
Just like all SRPGs on the market it’s really hard to bring something new and original to the table, and while the game itself borrows elements from it’s Hyperdimension counterpart for the most part the originality of the game lies within how it fits into this franchise. For the first time our main character isn’t the quirky Neptune but instead it is Noire, and while playing the game Neptune doesn’t let you forget she is the main character normally. The game can easily stand out in this genre because it adds in elements from other video game genres as well, ranging from teh relationship styling of the Lily System to the simulation styling of ‘Sim Noire’. This game really feels like a platter of various game types all rolled into nice strategy role-playing bento box.
The Big Question:
The main question I had going into this game was: Can such an established JRPG that has been around for years and on various platforms transition over to a new gameplay type and showcase a new main character and still keep it’s charm but offer something new to the table? Yes, it can and it did. This game to me just gave a breath of new life into a franchise that now has six (seven including this game) under it’s belt.
I always say you get more than what you pay for with a game from Idea Factory, what I mean by this is that for the $39 price tag that this game has you not only get a game that will take you the better part of a solid 15-20 hours to beat (depending on how much side quests and grinding you do) and with the constant streamline of DLC that this game will obviously continue to have there is more to do in this game than you might think. As I’m typing this I have beaten the game but I am still playing because I want to max out the Lily ranks and unlock everything.