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Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart review

Hyperdevotion Noire Goddess Black Heart

Mirroring the moniker of their parent company, Idea Factory, developer Compile Heart has been consistently proficient when it comes to conceptualization. Record of Agarest War introduced an intriguing “Soul Breed” system into the SRPG genre, permitting characters to sire playable offspring that inherited the statistic traits of their parents, giving the game an enriching sense of legacy. Likewise, the studio’s most famous franchise, Hyperdimension Neptunia, created an elaborate allegory, depicting anthropomorphized consoles fighting for market share as well as the scourge of software piracy.

But until the recent PS Vita remakes of the Neptunia titles (co-developed with Felistella), Compile Heart’s coding couldn’t quite match the ambitions of its gameplay systems and storylines. Combat could become stagnant during the marathon treks, leaching much of each game’s energy. Likewise, the developers struggled to depict each imaginative realm, with recycled dungeons and framerate dips discouraging a sense of immersion.

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With the release of Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart, Compile Heart has teamed up with Sting Entertainment, a studio best known for their programming prowess and attention to detail. Within minutes of first booting up the title, the synergy between the two teams is unmistakable. Goddess Black Heart is undoubtedly Noire, Neptune, Blanc, and Vert’s best outing, offering the rare spin-off that outshines its source material.

This becomes immediately known through Goddess Black Heart’s aesthetic aptitude. An opening cinematic depicts Noire’s rise to power, with Goddess who symbolizes the Sony PlayStation giving her console-competitors a devastating trouncing. While pre-rendered, the segment is achingly cute, imagining the characters as expressive, pugnacious Nendoroids. While in-engine visuals can’t match the sheer adorability, the game does render the girls in chibi form during battles, while character portraits retain the detail of the Neptunia’s console titles.

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Smartly, it’s not just the main characters that will enchant the eyeballs- with enemies that draw from game lore, referencing foes like Dragon Quest’s endearing slimes, ghosts from Pac-Man, or Space Invaders. But that’s just the beginning of Noire’s hyerdevotion to homage. Parody abounds, with characters that poke fun at popular personalities like Street Fighter II’s Chun Li, Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine, and the Blitzball-loving Tidus from Final Fantasy X. There’s plenty of allusions to slightly more obscure properties, whether through the personification of a bishōjo game or a reki-jo who appreciates Dynasty Warriors just as much as your author.

Satisfyingly, Goddess Black Heart does more than just drop names. Stages lampoon elements of the source material, whether it’s a wrestling ring with electrified ropes that satirizes the persistent pugnacity of Street Fighter, a bomb-filled combat zone that’s typifies the tension of Metal Gear Solid, or an exaggerated take on a Winning Eleven football field. Considering that the game’s battles don’t veer too far from strategy role-playing blueprint, the creative contexts can help maintain a player’s interest during the extended duration of the campaign. Ingenuity even extends to the game’s status effects, where characters can become pixelated, tofu-ed, or even zombified, conditions that effect your stats in clever ways.

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Although the game’s writing is a bit more mischievous than most of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games, dialog has the tendency to become long-winded. There’s little fault in the game’s set-up, which sees Gamarket’s downfall after Noire risks the realm’s wellbeing in an effort to avoid future hostility with her fellow goddesses. The decision effectively enfeebles the character, her strength diminished by a lack of supporters. The impetus for her return to grace arrives the form of an unseen, unvoiced secretary, a contrivance which pushes players into the game’s world. Shrewdly, Goddess Black Heart assumes the assistant has a crush on the characters, which adds a new wrinkle to the series’ typical repartee. But when the goddesses start conversing with one another, they can get become quite loquacious, making players wonder how long they’ll have to wait until the next battle.

Eschewing the conventional combat mechanics associated of the franchise, Hyperdevotion Noire moves conflict to a grid-based playfield, contributing a gratifying tactical element to each skirmish. In execution, battles follow the Disgaea model, with highlighted regions showing the movement range and combat reach. Expectedly, unit positioning is important (with the game requiring characters to worry about the direction characters are facing, but can pay vast dividends through the Lily Boost system. By performing a special adjacent to an ally, the cost of the strike is reduced, while its effectiveness is bolstered, with the perk signified by a perk on the cheek between the girls.

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Pacing in strategy role-playing game can sporadically become plodding. Elegantly, Hyperdevotion Noire allows gamers to control the cadence of conflict. Button presses can skip animations, while a trip to the title’s menu allows the sequences to be evaded entirely. But only the most time-pressed people will want to shun them. Reliably, the game maintains a solid framerate, even when exhibiting a procession of impressive looking special attacks.

Beyond exposition and conquering antagonist, the game has a quite a few components destined to occupy players. Exterminated monsters reward the adventuring team with a bevy of materials that can be used to craft unique new items and weapons, which ultimately become consumables sold at the item shop. Meanwhile, the disc developer lab allows you to augment your adventuring team, giving stat upgrades, or earn abilities which distribute skill points whenever you take damage. Purchasing item also bestows Sim Points, which can be used to improve Noire’s dwelling, recalling the relationship you had with a Prinny wife in Z.H.P. The Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman. Thankfully, Noire is much less of a nag, bestowing helpful items, and even allowing players to answer her fan mail.

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Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is the game that series fans have hoped for- a near-faultless mixture of concept and coding. While the franchise’s set-up have offered variations of an imaginative and amusing theme, gameplay has often struggled to deliver. That’s not the case with Goddess Black Heart, which offers a new combat mechanic, as well as the novelty and nuance we’ve always wanted from Neptunia. Noire, take a bow.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart was played on the PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Compile Heart, Sting Entertainment
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release date: February 24th, 2015
Price: $39.99 retail, or via PSN
ESRB: Mature
Mirroring the moniker of their parent company, Idea Factory, developer Compile Heart has been consistently proficient when it comes to conceptualization. Record of Agarest War introduced an intriguing “Soul Breed” system into the SRPG genre, permitting characters to sire playable offspring that inherited the statistic traits of their parents, giving the game an enriching sense of legacy. Likewise, the studio’s most famous franchise, Hyperdimension Neptunia, created an elaborate allegory, depicting anthropomorphized consoles fighting for market share as well as the scourge of software piracy. But until the recent PS Vita remakes of the Neptunia titles (co-developed with Felistella), Compile Heart’s…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 90%
Story - 75%
Aesthetics - 85%
Content - 85%
Accessibility - 75%

82%

VERY GOOD

Summary : Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart delivers the fan-service players want, and the polish they rightfully deserve. Unlike Producing Perfection, this is the spin-off that’s splendidly executed.

User Rating: 3.94 ( 4 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

18 comments

  1. first!

    Wow, a lot of enthusiasm for the game. The other reviews I’ve seen gave it around a 6/10 or 7/10 tops.

    • Well, they made the combat more like Disgaea, which Robert (and most people) probably like better than the circles of HN.

      I’m kind of hoping a super version of this makes it way to PS3/PS4 becuase I just like playing on a bigger screen. I guess there’s PS TV, though.

    • Sounds like a perfect match. SRPG combat with lolis galore.

  2. I trust your taste with jrpgs and really trust your taste with srpgs.

    Good review.

  3. “whether through the personification of a bishōjo game or a reki-jo who appreciates Dynasty Warriors just as much as your author.”

    Haha. You should put more quips like that in your reviews.

  4. It might have taken 3 years but the Vita is finally coming of age. I play mine so much more than my 3DS.

    Going to have to pick up Noire.

  5. I thought Sting made this one of their own with CH’s characters and ideas.

  6. To me, the status effects and map hazards really bog the game down. They’re not fun and the game would be so much better without them.

  7. Looks like one of those crappy games where the characters talk and talk and talk. I hate those. They put me to sleep. I’d rather read a math book.

  8. Looks like my kind of game. I like Disgaea and Fire Emblem. Shining Force wasn’t bad either.

  9. no mention of the dlc characters? I hate how rpgs milk you now.

  10. Next on my buy list.

    Funny thing is, I didn’t really like the first HN that much. Good idea, but not all that fun to play. By the third PS3 game, it was one of my favorite RPG games of the generation.

  11. Anita should be all over this game. Women have to save themselves. There’s not a man around! If they are, then they’re personified through the enemies.