Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3 V Generation
Developed By: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Felistella
Published By: Idea Factory, Idea Factory International
Released: October 30, 2015
Available On: PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Turn-based RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity, Language)
Number of Players: Singleplayer
(Humble Store Link)
Note: This review will not take into account any DLC content, it is based on the stock game content only.
Usually, by the third game in a series, they figure out what works best from prior mistakes and the series tends to improve even further from there. This was true of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, and Neptunia Re;Birth 3 V Generation continues this trend.
A bit of background, first. Re;Birth 3 is a remake of the original Neptunia Victory. The original PS3 Neptunia games were rough around the edges until they settled on most of the engine refinements perfected on Neptunia Victory, which has become the basis of the Re;Birth remakes. Ever since each one has continued to polish the jewel, and it's reached a mirror sheen with Re;Birth 3.
The story remains the same as the original Re;Birth Victory. There is a growing protest movement against the current leadership of Gamindustri following the events of Re;Birth 2. While looking into the matter, Neptune, aka Lady Purple Heart of Planeptune, is sent through a dimensional warp to another world, one that appears to be another form of Gamindustri, albeit one set in an earlier time period. While there, not only does Neptune realize this Gamindustri dimension has its own problems, but that those problems are connected to her version of Gamindustri as well, and both are doomed if they are not resolved.
While the prior game largely addressed the themes of game piracy and moral, ethical, and legal issues surrounding it, Re;Birth 3 is something of an excuse to revisit the "Golden Age" of gaming, the time that in real life corresponded to the 1990s following the disastrous 1983 "Great Crash" event. For those who know their gaming history, Re;Birth 3 analyzes how gaming rose from those ashes and why the fall occurred to begin with. On top of this, the classic Neptunia tropes affectionally lampooning video gaming, the franchises included, and the world of gaming culture, in general, are just as present as before.
Strong Points: Good story lampooning the early 90s to early 2000s period of gaming
Weak Points: Not much has changed mechanically since Re;Birth 2
Moral Warnings: RPG style violence; occasional use of PG-13 language (b**t**d, b***h); lots of innuendoes referring to bondage and sadomasochism; a few revealing female outfits; some censored partial nudity; some undead/demonic looking enemies
The gameplay is much like a traditional JRPG. You have visual novel-style scenes that further the story, while dungeons are explored in 3D. There are turn-based battles, though these have Action RPG elements where the player can position themselves to hit more than one enemy on their turn. Two mechanics, Shares and the Rebirth System are specific to the Rebirth games. The former can unlock certain characters and endings if at certain levels during the plot. The latter allows collecting materials dropped from enemies to make all sorts of things, from changing game mechanics to creating new items and unlocking new dungeons to explore. A related mechanic is the "Disc Dev" mechanic, which allows the creation of "Game Disc" accessories to give your player certain bonuses.
Other unique mechanics are the Lily System/Coupling and the EXE meter. The former allows players to assign playable characters into reserve roles for other party members, unlocking bonus attacks and special skills as their Lily (loyalty) rank increases. This can also affect what endings are possible to get in the later portions of the story. The EXE meter allows a bonus meter to charge based on attacks made by the player, unlocks bonus special attacks at certain points, and enables more damage to be done with regular attacks.
Graphically, the Neptunia franchise tilts firmly in favor of the bright, colorful anime-style art, with 2D visual novel-style cutscenes and 3D dungeons and characters. A lot of the enemy designs are quite distinctive and even hilarious like dog-faced slimes called Dogoos, walking vegetables, and even some ambulatory visual novel interface screens.
The music is a mix of synth and techno with some instrumental themes as well. Given the lighthearted, gaming industry-centric focus, this mix of genres suits this title well. Sounds effects have a similar theme, with some retro-style blips and bleeps at times for that classic gaming feel. They do experiment a bit with gothic vocals at one point too.
This game can be played with either a keyboard and mouse or a controller. While technically playable with the former, a controller is vastly preferred. Anything compatible with Steam will work just fine. On the Steam Deck, the Deck controls work just as well, albeit they may need some manual tweaking via key remapping.
Stability is just fine on Windows, there are very few if any problems running in a Windows environment. On Linux and Steam Deck, it is usually playable using Steam Proton (or just Wine for the GoG version), though it may require some minor tweaks for certain control schemes. There is a "retranslation patch" for this game like there was for the second game, to bring the English-written script more in line with the Japanese. It's fan-made and best paired with the Japanese voice acting. It won't affect stability too much and is somewhat optional unless you prefer a less colorful and more literal translation for everything (especially Neptune's dialogue). Said patch can work on Linux and the Steam Deck as well.
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)
Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5
Morality Score - 66%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 4/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10
Morally, there are some concerning issues.
Violence is typical RPG-style "give orders and watch it happen" style. It is devoid of blood and gore, though there are some comedically implied scenes of far more gruesome violence "offscreen" on occasion.
Language is mostly clean in terms of profanity, with only a few prominent uses of PG-13 cursing like "b**t**d" and "b***h". In terms of innuendo and sexual references, it's a lot more prominent than usual due to the presence of one character with dominatrix tendencies, though most of it rises no higher than generic comments about causing pain and pleasure consistent with sadomasochism.
Also, some of the outfits are pretty revealing, given the playable cast is female. Again, the dominatrix-like character in particular gets about as racy in their mannerisms, costumes, and overall references to bondage and BDSM as the Teen rating will allow. There are a few joking references to homosexuality and some hot springs styled censored partial nudity once or twice as well. One male character, while having known straight tendencies, adopts a ton of stereotypically homosexual mannerisms as well.
Given the digital world premise of the franchise, occult and supernatural content is low aside from the joking presence of ghost and skeleton enemies (the former are an obvious Pac-Man reference). Any skills or magic are clearly fictional and outright explained to be based on video game logic as well, even in-universe.
Morally and ethically, the game has no outstanding issues. The playable characters are authority figures or those working at their behest to restore peace and order to Gamindustri. Like the previous game, the villains are clearly modeled after various unethical aspects of gaming development and culture, and as your playable character represents the better aspects, there is no doubt what side of the morality fence your actions fall on.
In terms of polish, this game is quite well-tuned and runs just fine on Windows. On Linux and Steam Deck, it also runs well after a bit of minor tweaking in some cases. Morally, it's got a lot of concerning content not fit for anyone who isn't at least an older teen on up. Overall, if you are a Neptunia fan, JRPG fan, or just want a competent RPG with a healthy dose of comedy, this is worth getting, especially on sale.