Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a spinoff of the Hyperdemension Neptunia series. Instead of Neptune or Nepgear taking the prime spot on the stage, it’s Noire who is the main focus in this game.
Small world after all
Compile Heart switched things up graphically a bit for Hyperdevotion Noire. Instead of the cute looking anime style graphics of the mainline games, Hyperdevotion Noire is sporting a chibi art style. This means tiny bodies, big heads. They dipped their feet already in this kind of graphical style with Monster Monpiece. They approved their detailing of the characters a lot since then, but the graphics still look more like PSP or PS2 game than a full fledged PS Vita title. The Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth series wipes the floor with the graphics presented in Noire. And that is a pitty. The skits and story parts on the other hand look amazing, a real step up from Re;Birth2. The movement of the characters is more ‘active’, which helps engaging in the ludicrous story.
The gameplay has received a complete change of pace as well. Instead of the classical turn based RPG system used in the Re;Birth series, Noire is a tactical RPG, in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, La Pucelle Tactics and the Disgaea series. The tactical battles take place in fully realized 3D battlegrounds. Unfortunately these are filled with a lot of objects which don’t enhance the actual gameplay, like cannons, floors with sudden holes in it and rotating belts. Although I understand wanting to spice things up a bit, these items are mostly an annoying hindrance. Besides that Noire features standard tactical gameplay: You can manage your teams characters and placement on the map before you start (in a limited capacity), once the battle starts you can move all your unites (each with a different range), each character has its own set of moves (healing, bufs and attacks), you can use items instead of attacking, if two characters stand next to each other they will help each other attack, and so forth. Noire follows the standards of the TRPG genre and doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table, except for its broad range of exceptional and well established characters.
Hyperdevotion Noire is a celebration of all the characters in the series. It’s nice to see all the characters we have come to know come by in rapid fashion. All of these characters are based on gamecompanies or gameseries. Not just the top dogs make an appearance, also small niche studios make their appearance as one of the fighting (and talking) dames. If you follow the game industry at least a little bit, there are a lot of fun statements and known, but exaggerated, behavior to be found in Hyperdevotion Noire. The game is mostly focused on Japanese studios, which is understandable, since Hyperdevotion Noire is a very Japanese pop culture product in almost every sense of the way.
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a fine tactical RPG which celebrates the characters of the series. It's a good celebration the whole way through, but never a great one. The gameplay is solid, yet the gimmicks are annoying. It never comes close to TRPG highlights like Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics, but if you want a good tactical RPG on your PS Vita Hyperdevotion Noire is a fine choice.