MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies released on October 3rd., for the PC by Idea Factory and Compile Heart. Also available on the PS Vita. This is a review of the PC version.
introductionMegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies in addition to being a mouthful of a title is third-person character action game in the style of series like Devil May Cry. While being vastly different titles, Idea Factory has managed to capture the style and flash required to make combat feel fun and exciting even if the effects on enemies themselves aren’t too visceral. Idea Factory’s Neptunia games have traditionally followed an enjoyable but predictable RPG formula, this game looks to break that trend in multiple exciting ways.
While the developers may have been used to creating fun, self-referential RPGs in the past, the latest few titles have seen them branching out into other genres with their colorful cast of characters. Specifically, Hyperdevotion Noire adventured into the fields of tactical RPGs and played more like the Fire Emblem games, and Neptunia U was a third-person hack and slash title. Both games successfully breathed new life into the series, so it’s interesting to see the developers create a game like MegaTagmension where instead of going back to their RPG roots or trying another genre, they took the time to flesh out what they learned in Neptunia U by making the combat more fluid and fast paced, and adding a fully featured multiplayer mode for co-operative play with up to three other players at once.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies can be found on Steam for $17.99.
The gameplay is the big focus here, as they’ve clearly been hard at work improving on Neptunia U and while the previous game was a fun experience that explored new territory, it’s hard to go back to it after having played MegaTagmension. Character action games are all about making the combat feel exciting, fluid and visceral while looking flashy and allowing the player to showcase their skill. The game drops the ball on feeling visceral as sounds used on hits aren’t anything special and many enemies throughout the game don’t have much visual feedback when attacked. That said, the game is plenty fluid as stringing combos together with dashes and jumps as well as being able to cancel combos into crazy finisher moves or the signature over the top EX attacks previously featured in the series make the combat fast-paced if the player can keep up with the game. The flashiness is handled just as well as the fluidity as launching enemies into the air isn’t difficult and the crazy on-screen effects when using the special moves, transforming or switching characters to chain combos all serve to make the game look and feel flashy in the moment. Gameplay seems to have been a high-priority, and it paid off in spades.
In terms of story, it follows the cast of the main Neptunia characters from previous titles trying to find a way to save their school from being shut down when the other students in the academy are turned into zombies. Blanc uses this as a chance to try to direct a movie that’ll be so successful, it’ll single-handedly save the school from shutting down. The writing is in-line with previous games as it focuses on the characters themselves as opposed to having a particularly engaging plot. The self-reference and meta-writing present in the game is the draw of watching the cutscenes. Constant references to the gaming industry and the girls riffing on each other can make the dialogue enjoyable at times if a bit long-winded. It’s the writing typical of the series, which can be a good and a bad thing, it mostly comes down to personal opinion as to how much self-referential humor one can handle.
The game is handled technically well, while the graphics settings aren’t anything special - just changing the window mode and rendering resolution, but the game runs fine itself. The 60 FPS cap is unfortunate but the game never drops below it due to being a fairly lightweight game, and no framerate dips have been recorded so far. Graphically, the game is passable, the textures on the ground and in the environment are detailed enough to not draw any ire, while the character models of both enemies and the playable characters are well detailed with good textures, which fortunately doesn’t change based on the costumes the girls wear, as they’re all well put together. What’s more impressive technically, is the game launching with a fully fledged four player cooperative game mode which seems to work fine both prior to and during the launch of the game. A slew of pre-selected messages with accompanying voice clips allow random players to communicate adequately and a revive system was retrofitted onto the combat specifically for the co-op mode.
By and far away, the multiplayer feature included in MegaTagmension is the most surprising thing to come from a Neptunia game in a while, as multiplayer tends to be one of the more financially investing aspects of a game. It’s hard to tell if the netcode uses a peer to peer system or dedicated servers, the latter of which would add a cost to supporting the game in exchange for a much better playing experience, but the mode itself is very enjoyable. It’s fun to blow through hordes of enemies with friends activating special moves that can’t be done in the main game by combining EX attacks and charge moves with other players to rain down hell on the battlefield. The best thing I can say about the multiplayer is that it doesn’t feel like a lazy, tacked-on afterthought thrown in to try to entice people to buy the game. It stands on its own as a satisfying multiplayer experience and while it’s pretty basic like the rest of the game, it’s fun to play both with and without a group of people, and thankfully the lobby system allows players to start matches with as many as four or as few as one players at once.
Before we wrap up, another thing worth mentioning is that lately, Idea Factory has been retro-fitting Neptunia games with a “Deluxe Version” piece of DLC that includes a couple extra features and bonuses from that game. For the most part, they consist of the game’s art book, their soundtrack, and some additional themes and wallpapers from the game. They’re small add-ons which give a little extra value to the fans who want a bit more out of their Neptunia experience. They come in at $10 a pop which doesn’t break the bank and anyone interested can get a bundle which includes the MegaTagmension game and the deluxe set for an extra discount on both items. They’re small extra value pieces of content that don’t make or break the game, which is an inoffensive way of doing DLC. No annoying content locks here, just some extra bonuses for the people interested in the Neptunia series and want a bit more of it in their life.
All in all, Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a very enjoyable title. While the story and writing are nothing new, the gameplay is vastly different from their mainline games and makes the game feel much more exciting as it steps into new territory for the series. It’s easy to get complacent as a developer - the AAA industry is proof enough of this - so it’s good to see that a smaller developer like Idea Factory willing to take risks with their IP. If not in writing, then in gameplay. The multiplayer is a huge boon for the title as well as having fun, fast-paced combat that only gets more fun the more time is put into gaining new combos for the colorful cast of characters. Right now, the game is having a launch sale for 40% off the base price of the game, and at that price, it’s incredibly difficult to argue against a purchase if someone is skeptical, as the value proposition alone is fantastic. For anyone looking for some quick fun with a bit of combo depth and replayability with friends and random people in the multiplayer mode, MegaTagmension is a great buy.
|+ Very fun to play, great combat with some depth||- No graphics options to speak of|
|+ Cheap on launch, good value for the buyer||- Writing is very similar in style to previous games|
|+ Multiplayer with up to three other people||- Occasional funky enemy spawns|
|+ Deluxe DLC doesn't take away from the game at all|