Those familiar with the series of Neptunia have been on a weird cross of drought, but lots of games to play in the series. A drought because there hasn’t been a sequel to the series since Megadimension Neptunia VII in 2016. Also, we have had a lot of games from Neptunia to play since then because of a bunch of new crossover games.
Every new reveal trailer felt like a punch in the gut until November 18th, 2021, when a new trailer hinted at a mainline game focused on Nepgear. We then got a title of the game days later as Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters. That’s all I needed to get excited, and I’m sure fans of Neptunia were equally excited as well.
Game Name: Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters Platform(s): PS4,PS5 (Tested),PC(Reviewed) Publisher(s): Idea Factory International Developer(s): Compile Heart Release Date: January 24th, 2023 Price: $59.99
Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters takes place as Nepgear finds a mysterious lab as Neptune, and the other Goddesses travel to the PC continent to fight Arfoire. They find what appears to be a CPU Goddess, who puts Nepgear, Uni, Ram, and Rom into a device that puts them all to sleep. Two years later, the CPU candidates awake to a world being taken over by rPhones. Neptune is nowhere to be found, and the other Goddesses are busy combating the immense power of shares that the rPhones are gaining over the world of Gamindustri. The goal is to save Gamindustri from being too involved with their rPhones and discover what happened to Neptune.
Alongside the rPhones, Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters also has you looking into what’s known as the Trendi Outbreak. It requires you to search areas to find the outbreak’s epicenter, where you will find the Trendfluencers; big monsters that, once defeated, will cause the monsters from the Trendi Outbreak to disappear.
Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is a big step in a new direction for the Neptunia series. Most of the mainline games were turn-based combat, Sisters vs Sisters introduces a new action combat system. You still get to put your skills in an order similar to the previous incarnations. The combat also includes a guard button, that, when pressed while moving the analog stick will quickly move your character out of the way from being hit by enemy attacks. The only issue is in the beginning, the guard and dodge will not stop your attack. If you are about to get attacked and your skill is a multiple-hit attack, you will have to finish the attack before it lets you guard or dodge. That is until later, but I will elaborate on that further in the review.
Alongside the attacks, you get a series of gauges you will have to pay attention to. You get AP, Goddess gauge, and the Tactical gauge. AP stands for attack points, and every attack in your chain of combos you set up has a number attached to them. To do those attacks, it requires that you to have that number of AP available. AP recharges as you move around the battlefield without attacking or if you are playing as a different character in your party. Tactical gauge starts at fill at the beginning of combat and, after some time will be full. Once full you can use a variety of special tactical skills, or you can use items. Using either a skill or an item depletes your Tactical gauge. The goddess gauge carries over between fights and fills slowly based on how you often you attack enemies and get attacked by them. When the Goddess gauge is full, your character can enter their Goddess form, which ignores AP, using tactical skills won’t use up the tactical gauge while in Goddess form, and enhances your stats.
The game loop of Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is simplistic yet addicting. You’re presented with cinematics via visual novel-type scenes that explain the character’s stories, and what you are supposed to be doing. You will then go into dungeons to find items, monsters, quest scenes, or other types of story-related things. As you traverse the dungeons, you will see enemies that you can initiate combat with by attacking them in the back or touching them. It then seamlessly enters combat with a small scene, and then when you are done with combat, it lets you go back to the dungeon. The best part about it is there isn’t a combat zone like in previous games.
While initiating combat, you enter in the part of the map you are in, so when you are finished fighting, you can just keep going in the direction you are facing—no need to grab your bearings. The only nitpick I have is that some of the dungeons are reused with slightly different styles. Sometimes it is a forest, and sometimes it is that same forest but with fog. The maps are very similar too. Though when you get a long dungeon that has a lot of fun puzzles that are completely different than the other aesthetics, it is a breath of fresh air. There is one map I am thrilled with that made it into the game!
Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is a much more ambitious title than a Neptunia game has any right to be. You have seamless combat changes to maps. You have a new battle system that gets more complex the more you dive into disc development. The larger dungeons aren’t nearly as segmented as the older maps in a Neptunia game. The animations have expressive facial features that add to the models of the game. Rounding things out, there’s also AI Allies; characters in your party that fight alongside you. Based on what type of AI you choose (Offensive, Defensive, default, Varied), they will act accordingly while engaged in battle.
Disc Development is how combat becomes fun in Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters. Early on, you will start to unlock scouts, which are used to create game discs. These game discs will have a variety of passive effects on combat. Some can add guard cancel to your combo allowing you to cancel a move by guarding, the ability to dash faster, or even dash farther, as well as other passive effects. The only issue is that RNG plays a big part in getting the passive effects you want. Luckily once you use a scout, you can see what secondary effect they can add to a game disc. Each character in your party can equip four discs each, with each disc having up to two passive effects on them.
Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters has a lot of great animation in its graphical department. The models’ facial features are expressive, while the movements are slowed down a little, but they are very fluid. I played most of the game, jumping back and forth between my PC and my Steam Deck, and encountered little issue. The resolution was set to 1440P on PC, while 720p on Steam Deck. The PC game runs very well, and it is optimized well, with one expectation; the Steam Deck has issues with the bigger maps. The frame rate jumps from 60 fps in combat segments to 30 in the larger dungeons. The PS5 runs at exactly 30 fps with no dips. Either version of the game is worth grabbing if you are a Neptunia fan.
Overall, Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is a joy to play, and if you are a fan of the Neptunia series, you will have a blast with the comedy, and the characters. The story and the gameplay loop are more serious than in previous games, but that isn’t a high bar when your genre is mostly satire. The characters are fun to be with, while the new additions can be a little crazy, and they fit in with the rest of the cast. Meeting Maho, Anri, Higurashi, and Alice was enjoyable; I’m sure it will be a joy to fans of the series, as it was for me. For the newcomers to the series, there may be some confusion early on with some of the references, but they pass by so quickly that you might not notice them in the first place.
The only issue I have with Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is with how combat can feel super clunky in the beginning without the disc development system.
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Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is an ambitious title that finally returns to the mainline series of Neptunia. Action based combat with still keeping skill setups from the previous games along with seamless transition from combat to traversal makes it a great step up to current generation hardware. The combat system without the passive effects of discs feel clunky, and the maps have plenty of reused designs but otherwise a solid entry into the series.
Great cast of characters with added additions
Action seamless between combat and dungeon traversal
Great customization and accessory layout
Clunky combat beginning, relying on disc development to make combat smooth
Reused map designs
Feels slightly shorter than other Neptunia mainline titles