In 2016 the world was introduced to Kizuna Ai, what many considered to be the world’s first virtual Youtuber or Vtuber for short. Kizuna Ai gradually rose in popularity, and no one could have predicted the boom in popularity that Vtubers would have. Even over the past two years, Vtubers has almost become a household name at this point, the most popular company being Hololive. While I could go further regarding the subject, we’re here today to discuss a series around since 2010 and has tackled several issues in the gaming industry.
That right, it’s the Neptunia series! Everyone’s favorite goddesses are back in Neptunia Virtual Stars! This brand-new adventure marks a huge milestone for the series as it lines up with the 10th anniversary of the Neptunia series. Like many previous spin-offs, Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert are pulled into another world called Virtual. Along with You and Me, members of MEWTRAL, the team is an up-and-coming group of Vtubers to save this new world from the invading army known as Obsolete and the “Antis.” This spin-off is probably one of the last Neptunia titles to come out on the PS4, so was it a good send-off to the previous console generation?
Neptunia Virtual Stars does something a little different and changes up the gameplay compared to the previous spinoffs. Instead of being a hack n’ slash game like 4 Goddesses Online or Blanc VS Zombies, now it’s both a third-person shooter and a hack n’ slash that you can switch at any point. The goddess all attack with guns; Neptune is your standard scout, Noire is your assault role, Blanc is heavy assault, and Vert is a sniper. For the most part, they do a good job of feeling like they do in the mainline RPGs. On the other hand, the newcomers Me and You act as normal hack n’ slash characters. I fight with a sword, and You fight with a bow but don’t share the same mechanics as the goddesses who also fight with ranged weapons.
Combat feels very stiff and unengaging on both sides. Playing as the goddesses don’t feel good; while each goddess attacks differently, none of them feel like they’re hitting anything. It lacks that feeling of actually causing damage like other third-person shooters. Most of the time, the enemies don’t react to being hit unless you guard break them. While that works for the RPG entries in the series, it takes you out of this game experience. While you can boost to increase the goddesses’ speed, I wish the game has a dedicated dodge button instead of having to use boost all of the time. I’m also shocked with how stiff Me, You, and the other additional characters you recruit feel to control.
They are not unplayable by any means, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as smooth how 4 Goddesses Online played. This feels like a step back from the previous entries in terms of action gameplay. I’m not sure what happened, but it feels like they wanted to do too much in terms of gameplay and could not truly finetune each section. This results in gameplay that’s not satisfying. Another thing that made it hard to keep focused on the gameplay is there is so much happening on-screen at once. I get the intent to make it feel like your watching a Vtuber’s live stream. You have your normal HUD; then you have a cutout box that pops in and out with Vtubers that you’ve rescued. They will say something brief and help you out. On top of that, you have a chat that will give you tasks to complete to obtain rewards. It’s a little much, especially when you’re trying to lock on to an enemy and check out its health.
Where Neptunia Virtual Stars shines is in its story and its cast of characters. While it does have its hand full of original characters, it’s also full of actual Vtubers. I’m talking about Vtubers from Hololive, Project, ReVdol!, and many more. Normally they are used in loading screens or play on screens during levels. When Tokino Sora popped up for the first time, I was so surprised, and then other Hololive members such as Noel and Marine popped up, and I was floored. The biggest surprise would have to be when the Vtuber Heart showed up on one of the screens. Now I’m waiting for any news of the Kizuna Ai DLC coming over to the west. While including all of these Vtubers is great, a sacrifice did have to happen. This is the first Neptunia title without an English dub. While it is understandable why it was not included, I know some fans will be disappointed.
Overall, I enjoyed the time I spent with Neptunia Virtual Stars; I kept wanted to see what the next Vtuber I would see was or where the story was going. I couldn’t help but be a little frustrated with what seemed like a little bit of a misstep for the series. It appeared that they tried to do a little bit too much with it, and we’re left feeling that it lacked polish. I do have faith that the developers will learn from this, and the next time the series attempts to do a third-person shooter, it will turn out even better.
Neptunia Virtual Stars Review
A small misstep
The developers tried to do a little too much and made an unpolished game as result.
Wonderful cast of Vtubers
Unsatisfying gameplay leaving to a lackluster experience