One of the most interesting gaming genres is MMORPGs, as they have their own lingo, culture and community behind them. Even if you’re never played WoW or even ESO, it’s something Destiny fans have been introduced to and love. So, after fighting for people to embrace gaming, piracy, Sega’s past and some odd spinoffs, Neptunia is back with the latest adventure taking place in an MMORPG. With the games typically being about character interactions and meta elements, it seems like Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online could be successful. But, with the higher than usual concept, jokes relying on players having experience in a certain genre and action gameplay, can Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online find success or does it sound better on paper?
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online starts with the beloved CPUs joining the beta for 4 Goddesses Online and deciding to work together. This makes the story easy to transition into jokes and silliness, then having to pay attention to the central story about collecting artifacts, saving the goddesses and then defeating the demon king. In-fact, that story might be in the background, with the main one being the race to finish first.
This is an odd direction for the story to take, not that it feels out of place for the character, because it’s a concept many are not familiar with. Outside of having a dedicated team, one that is highly coordinated, open to figuring things out and have similar goals, being the first in a game like this is a pipe dream. There is always someone faster, better and more prepared, an element that is certainly part of the story, but it only goes so far.
Outside of stories, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online does a good job of tossing in MMO specific jokes. One that stood out was people moving away from the healer and the problems it caused, something my friend who typically runs a healer, more than empathized with. However, the success of many of these jokes relies on someone being familiar with the genre.
Where Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online falls apart is the gameplay. Since this is support to be an MMO, there is an action combat system. Most of the combat is spamming a single button or doing that with the occasional jump. It doesn’t take long for things to feel bland, which is where magic comes into play.
Every character has a handful of spells or special attacks, which offer a little more variety. However, it doesn’t take long for the game to feel like it’s going through the motions. Even the levels play out this way, as there isn’t much of a need to block or dodge, especially with the AI ignoring it and compensating by either dying or healing through it. In a sense this works like it would in an MMO, but it makes the experience so hollow. Every fight is little more than locking on and then pushing the same button until you either win or lose.
The same is true for a lot of the mechanics. Once you figure out the build you want, there isn’t much to change. Weapons and armor are added at a snail’s pace, with the same being true for the upgrade system. This, in turn, makes collecting resources feel pointless, especially once you unlock the ability to upgrade something and you have 30 or more of the resource you need three of.
Level design is build around minimal exploration, with the bulk coming from collecting the same resources. Quests help break it up, even if they just pick random things and require them to progress, especially padding the game. Before long it feels like the tedious grind most people dislike about MMORPGs.
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is fun, but it isn’t painfully shallow. As much fun as the combat system is, it doesn’t take long to master and even less to realize it doesn’t require much effort. The same is true for the story, as the main arcs are pointless. This makes the selling point the MMO specific jokes, something that might get a laugh or two, but this is easily one of the shallowest offerings. Outside of loving games like Sword Art Online or the usual Neptunia beats, Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is one of the most forgettable entries in the series.
[Editor’s Note: Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]