Neptunia: Sisters VS Sisters is Compile Heart and Idea Factory’s latest installment in the fan-favorite long-running Neptunai series and the latest mainline game that isn’t a spin-off in a while. Like the title suggests, the game puts the main characters on the back burner and puts their sister/ CPU candidates, Rom, Ram, Uni, and Nepgear, the protagonist of this story, in the limelight. The story takes place in the Gamindustri, the cheeky in-game reference to the real Gaming Industry, and the locations Lowee, Lastation, Leanbox, and Planeptune, which reference the obvious real-life gaming companies.
A Surprising Story
After Neptune and the rest of the leaders of these nations are sent on a critical mission to investigate strange occurrences in the PC continent, it’s up to their sisters to go on a separate mission which unfortunately ends up with them seemingly unsealing a new malicious goddess and them being sealed for two years. They later awaken to find the world plagued with new monsters and citizens losing faith in the goddesses and spending time with their new trendy mobile phones. So it’s up to the sisters to get the world back to how it was, with the help of new characters Maho and Anri, whose fates are also tied to recent events.
To keep things short, the story in Neptunia: Sisters vs. Sisters is by far the best aspect of the game, as the developers succeeded in giving the story great depth and letting several characters really shine. While the story starts with a pretty orthodox structure, it quickly ramps up by introducing new characters and high stakes. If you’re a long-time fan of the series, the game offers tons of references to the old games as well as geek and gaming culture, such as nods and pokes fun at Pokemon Go, PlayStation censorship, Higurashi, and more. I must also admit that the story concept is one of the most amusing and interesting concepts in any title I’ve seen, and the game’s story specifically manages to cover modern gaming culture in a way I’ve never seen any game do before.
However, while the game sports a genuinely interesting plot that admittedly tries to bring you up to speed on the lore and world, it unfortunately still relies on you being a returning fan or player of the series, as many of the story and character details will fly over your head otherwise. Though it’s also fair to note that this is standard for most continuation titles.
Now in terms of gameplay, I must admit that while the game’s combat system is passable, I did not find it very enjoyable, especially earlier in the story. Players can switch in, out, and between characters on the fly and use their several standard, range, and special attacks. Doing this lets them build AP (Action Points), which in turn lets them execute link attacks, special attacks, and goddess transformations by building up their EXE Drives. And while combat isn’t sluggish per se, the ability to quickly switch between characters really makes you wish movements were faster, and the limited frame rate on the PS4 doesn’t help at all. What’s more, the game also, unfortunately, sports lots of bland enemies that are heavily repeated, and only a few bosses are actually entertaining and satisfying in a fight. Outside combat, players will also buy consumable items, use accessories, and level up their characters while exploring the game’s several repeated maps and locations, many of which unfortunately look bland visually, save for Planeptune, which is surprisingly not only large and explorable but also unique among the game’s other locations.
Other than that, it’s also worth mentioning the game’s character models, which, while not bad, are not really as detailed as you’d expect a game of this era to be, as they look more akin to PS3 models than anything else. Lastly, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent Japanese and English voice cast, which did fantastic jobs portraying the characters making the overall story that much more enjoyable.
Overall, Neptunia: Sisters VS Sisters provides a fascinating story and highly endearing, well-voiced characters. While the game has its fair share of issues, making it a hard title to recommend to JRPG fans in general, Neptunia fans will most likely still love it, especially after many of its gameplay issues have been hopefully ironed out.
Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters
- Great story
- Great refrences
- Slow gameplay
- Mediocre models and graphics