Neptune is my favorite CPU. Let’s put that fact on the table where we can all see it. One of the reasons I enjoy Hyperdimension Neptunia is that Neptune is such an amusing (if not entirely capable) protagonist. But what if we were to take the spotlight away from Neptune and give it to another character? For example, Noire?
Uh, no, not noir, NOIRE. Black Heart, Lastation, that Noire.
There she is. So, what would we get if we gave Noire the role of protagonist for a day? Well, we’d get Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart.
As opposed to the usual setting of the world of Gamindustri, Hyperdevotion Noire takes place in a different land called Gamarket, which is pretty much still Gamindustri but with a different name. If there’s one thing you can expect from a Neptunia game, it’s a lot of futzing about in parallel dimensions. Anyway, the CPUs of Gamarket compete for the favor of the people as we’ve come to expect, but the Noire of this dimension is a bit more on the capable side; with help from Generals hailing from cities that have fallen under Lastation’s rule, each one a spoof of a popular video game franchise, Noire has effectively conquered Gamarket, consistently defeating the other CPUs on a regular basis. After a kerfuffle with Lastation’s Sharicite (a big crystal thingy that regulates energy from the peoples’ faith), Noire and the CPUs are temporarily cut off from their powers, prompting the Generals to return to their cities and begin a power struggle of their own. Meanwhile, an invisible lad arrives in Lastation looking for employment, where he runs into Noire while she’s being attacked by monsters. After helping her get away, Noire decides to hire him on as her new secretary. That lad is you (yes, you). Seriously, he’s just called “Player”. Doesn’t even have a character model or a voice. As I’ve come to expect from Neptunia games, the plot is riddled with holes, but the laid-back attitude of the cast has a weird calming effect that makes you not really care. I can’t say I’m super into the self-insert secretary guy, but even he has his amusing moments, kind of like the producer in an IDOLM@STER game (not that I’ve played IDOLM@STER or anything).
Hyperdevotion Noire is a departure from the usual turn-based RPG/dungeon crawler gameplay that the other Neptunia games are known for, opting instead to be a strategy RPG, similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. I don’t usually play strategy RPGs, not because I think they’re bad, but just because I’m not very good at them. Thankfully, much like how Neptunia U is baby’s first Musou game, Hyperdevotion is baby’s first strategy RPG (though unlike U, Hyperdevotion is actually an okay game). You assemble a team of CPUs and Generals to take on missions, each with different objectives. Usually it’s just “kill all the things” or “kill the one big thing”, but occasionally it’ll mix it up with elements like a turn limit or a character you need to defend. Different characters with different weapons move around the field and interact with enemies differently, so you need to plan your deployment to cover all your bases. A feature that sets Hyperdevotion apart from other SRPGs is the Lily System. If you place your characters next to each other, the SP costs for skills drop dramatically, and you build up Lily Points that can be used for special attacks and activating HDD forms. Also, whenever you use it, the characters kiss each other on the cheek. No idea why, but I’m not complaining.
Outside of combat, there’s not a whole lot to do. Lastation is the only city you can visit, but it has all of the usual Gamindustri amenities, like a shop, a disc developer for creating stat-boosting discs, and item development, which is just another name for the Plan system from the Re;Birth games. You can visit Noire’s room, where you can renovate her furniture with Sim Points you get from talking to people in the city and shopping, as well as discuss requests from the people of Lastation and give Noire advice on how to handle each one. Supposedly, giving the best advice for each request and consistently renovating will net you something good down the line, or at least that’s what the tutorial said.
Hyperdevotion Noire is very much a diet Neptunia game; there’s not exactly loads of content, but what it does do it does competently, and sprinkling that with some goddess shenanigans makes it just entertaining enough to keep playing. Its regular price of $29.99 is a bit steep, but if you can get it on sale and you enjoy Neptunia games, then throw a little love Noire’s way.