Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review - Familiar Faces in a New Place 34534

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review – Familiar Faces in a New Place

Neptunia has always been something of a weird franchise. The original title was closer to a celebration of Sega’s legacy, followed by seemingly offering commentary on the industry itself, to completely off-the-wall adventures where Neptune turns into a motorcycle, or fights zombies. Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution reminds me more of the days when it had a message, something that really isn’t bad given how often this topic comes up in the industry. With this in mind, is Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution an absolute must, or is it just another game in the series?

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution starts in the middle of a high stakes battle. There is a brief introduction to the main cast of characters, the antagonist, and where the story is heading. It also includes the usual silliness as Neptune herself enters the scene by rushing her motorcycle through a window.

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review - Familiar Faces in a New Place 3453

Neptune has Returned

Following this Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution starts to explain how this scene came to be. The aforementioned cast are “failed” goddess that regained their form after Neptune enjoyed one of their bad games, prompting the team to make new games. This is a premise that could go interesting places, yet it really doesn’t do much with it.

It’s very reminiscent of the problems present in Borderlands 3. It’s a more modern look at what the industry has become, as their first game goes from a flop to unstoppable sales success following a popular content creator discovering it. If nothing else I like the different approach to bringing the core cast together, and the openness to try new things.

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review - Familiar Faces in a New Place 34534

While narrative takes a slight detour before hitting the usual stops, gameplay plays it surprisingly safe. Basically, Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution presents its usual turn-based combat as an action-RPG. This might sound confusing, but it likely makes sense for those familiar with the franchise.

Players are given two attack buttons that do a set combo rotation. Initially options are fairly underwhelming, with new attacks unlocking as characters level. Eventually combos can be completely unique allowing players to exploit enemy weaknesses, or situational advantages. To spice things up there are also skills, special attacks, and select characters like Neptune can transform into their goddess form.

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review - Familiar Faces in a New Place 34534

Where it starts to get bumpy is the actual combat loop. The general idea is to perform a combo, swap to another character, and continue with their combo. Doing this will result in a special attack, one that becomes increasingly powerful overtime. As much as I like the fact it encourages players to try new things, certain characters are more enjoyable to play than others.

Beyond that, enemies are largely not that engaging. Many are punching bags shaped as iconic monsters, or cute references. The enemies that do attack largely rely on juggernaut logic. That is to say, they will simply tank attacks until they’re ready to make a move. At this point it helps to be defensive, either by blocking or dodging, though neither is presented well.

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Blocking requires players to immediately stop moving and brace for the attack. It’s good for ranged attacks, though most times it’s better to opt for dodge. While dodge works as expected, it’s not particularly satisfying to use. It’s hard to explain, but there is a lack of fluidness, and impact that is typically found in a game like Elden Ring.

Exploration is something of a mixed bag. Most areas are linear paths with an open area somewhere in the middle. Occasionally there will be optional paths, though these usually have a chest, quest, or unlock a shortcut. Enemies still appear on the overworld and can be attacked to go into combat with an edge. They can also be avoided with relative ease.

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review - Familiar Faces in a New Place 3453

The world map offers dungeons, and an upgradable town. A big part of Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution is investing in their company, Victory. Of the six initial genres I selected action, which naturally included a reference to Mario and Sonic, that could then be further upgraded. Options range from items that increase production, or unlock events, to building on the core concept. For example, the action genre can be upgraded to 3D action, and so forth.

Finally, I wanted to briefly touch on graphics and performance. I think Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution has an interesting mix of great, and okay graphics. When it comes character models, especially those present during interactions, it looks fantastic. These characters have come a long way, and it absolutely shows how much time/effort went into these models. Outside of interactions the world can look flat, or dated. It stands out more due to the aforementioned quality, though I appreciate the two looks are generally separated.

Performance is something of a mixed bag. While combat was generally smooth, and things loaded reasonably well, transversing the overworld wasn’t great. At certain angles it looked like frames were being dropped and generally poor. When the ground wasn’t visible it was a bit better, even if it made navigating slightly harder.

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution Review Verdict

Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution: Enjoying Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution ultimately comes down to what you're looking for in a Neptunia title. Those simply looking to have a good time with familiar faces, and a few new friends will almost certainly enjoy this installment. There are enough references to gaming, and the franchise as a whole to keep things interesting. However, anyone hoping for a more refined gameplay experience, or stronger action RPG mechanics will almost certainly be disappointed. Grant

von 10

Editor’s Note: Neptunia Game Maker R: Evolution was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.

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