Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Review—Noire is Not Amused

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Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a newly released entry in the Neptunia series of video games that takes a different spin on things—lots of things.

Two differences are immediately noticeable. The game’s focal character is Noire / Black Heart, instead of Neptune, as per the main games. And Goddess Black Heart is a strategy RPG, similar in style to Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre; the game plays out on a typical grid, with 3D chibi models instead of the traditional 2D sprites.

The battle system has nothing new to offer, unfortunately. The only twist involved is the use of ‘Lily Points’, or LP, which build up over time as you battle. The Lily Points are gained by placing units near each other and using a special attack or skill. LP that you gain during a battle are then used to power more devastating attacks and CPUs’ HDD transformations.


In addition, Lily Points also function similarly to Fire Emblem’s relationship points. The more often that characters are placed during battle, the stronger their bonds will grow; having units that have high affection for one another next to each other has other benefits as well. Specifically, when a special attack is used next to a unit with high affection, the LP cost of the special attack will be reduced for that attack. Learning to use this mechanic is your key to victory.

Hyperdevotion Noire’s battle system also uses a simple elemental trump system, in which one element is super-effective against one other, while also being weak against another. It’s very standard for the genre.

The problem with the battle system is the lack of ability to efficiently plan before, or even during, battle. As a strategy-based RPG, Goddess Black Heart just doesn’t deliver; the battle system on its own functions well enough, but small quirks keep it from really advancing anywhere.

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There is a distinct lack of preparation. The game tells you to plan which units you bring into battle wisely, and to be careful when choosing your party leader (who gives your team a special bonus), yet you are unable to see which enemies are on the field before the battle begins. In fact, the field loads in after you pick your units. This makes planning for elemental weaknesses and such a moot point, as there’s no way to tell what will be coming until it’s already upon you. Author’s Note: As noted in the comments, I simply failed to notice that you can, indeed, look at where units are position before battle. This was my mistake; being able to check before hand does help make setting up which characters to bring in much more thoughtful.

Even worse, however, is that small missteps in planning can lead to silly issues. For example, units take falling damage from a miniscule height. This is fine on its own, except that taking falling damage also ends the unit’s turn. It’s a small annoyance, but when you’re not paying exact attention to the route a character is moving, it can end up costing you big.

All that be as it may, the biggest disappointment is the lack of difficulty. As a fan of strategy RPGs, I opted to start on hard, and was almost immediately disappointed. The first few battles were so easy I couldn’t even call them “a breeze”. But even the battles that followed, which felt like they should be challenging, simply weren’t. Bosses and chapter-ending battles are almost all easy to fight through, without any grinding. I suspect that they may have been more difficult had I not done every side mission that popped up, but who wouldn’t do the side missions in a Neptunia game?

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The battle system is a major flop. It isn’t broken in any way, thankfully, but it’s just not fun. At best, you have a middling battle system that does nothing to stand out. Unfortunately, even the aesthetics of the battles are lacking. The 3D chibis are simplistic and angular, and the environments are bland and desolate.

Thankfully, the art in the rest of the game is top-notch. The typical anime/manga style of the series is on full blast here, with moving 2D upper body sprites for all the major characters, and vibrant backgrounds. Sadly, any in-game cutscene that isn’t using just dialogue or (absolutely beautiful) CG ends up using the 3D chibis.

There are a number of fun scenes throughout the game, many of which feature the great art. In addition to these, there is also a fair amount of stuff to do that isn’t combat-based. Laststation acts as your base for the duration of the game, and there is an item shop and such there as per the norm. Throughout the game, you’ll develop items and, probably more importantly, discs. Disc Development allows you to alter and modify your characters, giving them stat boosts and special abilities, even some neat reactive ones like recovering upon taking damage. Item and Disc Development are a major part of the game as you progress, so you’ll often find yourself slogging through already cleared battles hunting for materials, if you’re a collector.

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Another facet of the Lastation gameplay is Noire’s room. Two things happen in here: you can deck out her room with items throughout the game by purchasing them with Sim Points, which are gained through spending money in the item shop. The room starts as essentially a run-down little shack, but you can upgrade it to a pretty impressive living space.

The second part of the gameplay here is responding to fan letters. While I had expected this part of the game to be a lot of fun, it was actually a huge letdown. The writing in these short exchanges is mere lines per letter, and the worse part was the choices. When you pick a letter, the text in the letter is presented to you, and you immediately make a visual novel-style decision between three options, one of them being essentially no response at all. Unfortunately, without any sort of talk with Noire beforehand, there is zero indication of which choice may be the fruitful one, and the discussions regarding the fan letters aren’t even worth reading half the time—they’re simply too short to really enjoy.

If you answer correctly, however, your relationship with Noire will grow stronger, and you’ll be treated to a few more cutscenes and the occasional surprise (like a good CGs).

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One thing that does carry over from the Hyperdimension Neptunia games is the humor and parodies. They are, of course, all over the place, and the writing is at least not boring. While it does rely on gags very similar to ones already seen in the previous games, they’ll still get you to laugh. Of course, there’s also plenty of fanservice, ranging from some great ecchi shots to fun jabs at other game series and systems. Again, if nothing else, when the CGs appear, it’s difficult to not enjoy the artwork.

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a fan’s game. You get to have fun with the Hyperdimension Neptunia cast, and with the lovely tsundere Noire as the leading lady. It’s an entertaining ride, similar to the flagship titles. But the game itself just doesn’t measure up. There’s nothing of note that makes it worth playing, and that is what hurts this title: it’s just a too-simplistic strategy RPG that does nothing to make you want to play more.

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Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart was reviewed using a code provided by NIS America. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

Overall: 5

The Good:

  • Great art
  • Entertaining writing
  • Tons of great satire, parody, and other general goofiness
  • Noire as the main character!

The Bad:

  • Utterly bland, easy gameplay
  • Poorly implemented visual novel-style decisions
  • Many scenes that should’ve been fun just end up being too short to enjoy
  • In-game graphics aren’t up to par when compared to flagship titles
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I'm a pretty chill guy. Huge video game fan, but a bigger anime fan. I also love to write - obviously.

  1. Sergio Nacher Fernández
    Sergio Nacher Fernández
    February 28, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Seems that this spin-off was a miss rather than a hit. A pity.

    Let’s hope that Hyperdevotion Blanc fares better. I will not forgive Idea Factory if they make my favorite goddess look bad!

  2. Landale
    February 28, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I think what hurts the combat most is that all the random hazards on the maps. Mostly that enemies ignore them entirely. No getting shoved around, no damage from the floors, no fall damage. Nothing’s survived the knockback attacks I’ve used to see if at the very least the electric walls would hurt them.
    Also the statement that you can’t check the enemies on the field prior to starting is inaccurate as you are given the option to check them as well as look over the entire field so long as you’ve assigned a single unit, which will generally be the case by default on story maps. I’ve compiled screenshots to show the process.
    Also, to point out a minor but recurring spelling mistake, it’s Lastation, not Laststation

  3. Landale
    February 28, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Also, just to clarify, only checking the field’s layout requires having an assigned unit, without that the Positioning option isn’t there to do so. You can still check what enemies are present.

  4. KyoryuOrange
    February 28, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I think you’ve got this completely backwards. The writing is terrible, and largely centered around a self-insert character and forcing his relationship with Noire rather than actually being about Noire herself, but you’ve… completely misunderstood the gameplay.

    For starters, BEFORE you start maps, if you hit “positioning,” you can look at the entire map, including where enemies and traps are. That’s explained right away. You’re also warned of traps before every stage – you have all the information you need to choose before the maps, not after. Furthermore, “The only twist involved is the use of ‘Lily Points’, or LP, which build up over time as you battle” is a very strange way to word what is one of the cornerstones of the game’s gameplay.

    Positioning your characters to take advantage of the maps to master them are both huge aspects of the game, and you just sort of gloss over them here. For example, take “but when you’re not paying exact attention to the route a character is moving, it can end up costing you big” this comment. That isn’t really a fault of the game – the game tells you you can change the direction your character sets off in and how they move is based on that, so if you make the mistake that leads to this, you know where you made the mistake. That’s how the game works – the whole stage is there for you to conquer, not just the enemies. I would say the gameplay in this game is much more satisfying than that of the main games, where it’s just a traditional turn based RPG, and more often than that just a grind to win affair. Here, thinking is encouraged and rewarded, and not thinking will cost you. In a genre that has become dominated by Disgaea in the past years, which often has to resort to huge level spikes or Geo Puzzles, to see a game actually involve the maps and real strategy in this way is a breath of fresh air. It’s just a shame the writing is so subpar for a series that often is praised for it.

    As for graphics, I’m really not sure why a made-for-Vita game is even being compared to made-for-console games or their ports. Likewise, if any of your complaints are to the music, most of the Neptunia games share music, so that’s not really anything new. This actually has more new tracks than any of the Rebirths do.

  5. Chris Gregoria
    Chris Gregoria
    February 28, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for call out there! I added to the review and changed the Lastation spelling. I knew how to spell it, I think my fast typing just got the better of me there.

    As for the hazards, I agree. My biggest issue with the game was really the lack difficulty, even playing on hard throughout. The hazards not hindering the enemies was absolutely infuriating though.

  6. Chris Gregoria
    Chris Gregoria
    February 28, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for pointing things out. I’m not sure how I missed checking the field, but I skipped through a fair portion of the tutorials on the basic systems figuring my sRPG experience would lead me through. I was obviously wrong on that one. ><

    I thought the writing wasn't bad, per se, just…tired and rehashed. It was certainly full of tropes – and bad ones at that – but if you take it that way, it can be enjoyable. Though that's really just the writing of the main scenario as all the side stuff was lacking horribly.

    I had no complaints about the music, actually the tracks were fine, just nothing memorably really. Though I was humming along while playing. And the graphics…well, I've seen games use much cleaner looking Chibis and I think that's all I really wanted. Though the backgrounds and stages were still incredibly bland.

    I do stand by my main complaint being difficulty however. Even playing the game on hard, it was incredibly easy. While taking advantage of the stages like you mention would tip things in your favor more, there was never any reason to worry about it. That's really my biggest complaint. I wasn't looking for a grindfest like the main games are, but while strategy was rewarded here, it didn't feel necessary, which was a huge letdown for me.

  7. Chris Gregoria
    Chris Gregoria
    February 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Oh yeah – and totally agree on the insert of the ‘main character’. He seemed utterly unnecessary and didn’t add anything other than a vehicle to experience the game with instead of as Noire. It wouldn’t have been as bad had they not forced the relationship with Noire though, since it seemed so…off.

  8. Firion Hope
    Firion Hope
    February 28, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t like SRPGs and mostly am playing for the fanservice, so the fact it doesn’t require grinding or advance strategy is nice.

  9. NuclearCherries
    February 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Dang, and I was looking forward to this, as I love SRPGs.
    Ah well, may as well keep playing through the old Fire Emblem games.

  10. Matt McCoy
    Matt McCoy
    February 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    You know why I love this review? No morality play whatsoever. Take note of this, MS Gaming sites. :)

  11. Tromboner
    March 1, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I’ve been playing the game a lot lately, so I thought I’d give my thoughts, as I enjoyed your review, even if I disagree with it a bit. Apart from some of the factual errors other have pointed out (checking the field), here’s some of what I think:

    Noire as the main character is actually a minus. I love her in the supporting role in the Rebirth games, but I feel like by herself she isn’t strong enough to carry a leading role. Nep-nep absolutely stole the show every time she was on the screen. As for the rest of the writing, I generally enjoy it, and I like meeting the characters and seeing what they’re supposed to represent. Lid is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

    For the visuals, I really liked the charming chibi style for the 3D battles, and felt that the special attacks had a good bit of oomph to them while still being cute. I’m glad they visually differentiated it from the mainline (Rebirth) games, because otherwise they would just be re-using a lot of assets. As always, the CGs are top-notch, and there are lots of them to find.

    For the core gameplay, I think I ranked things a bit kinder than you. For some background, I’ve greatly enjoyed almost all Fire Emblem titles, all three FFT titles, several Ogre Battle games, some Langrisser games, and a few other SRPGs here and there, like Disgaea, Shinging Force, Luminous Arc, and many others. While the gameplay is Noire is fairly basic (just a few systems such as LP and elemental affinities) I think it’s executed rather well. You can really cheese Lily Points to use very little SP, but I feel that the maps and challenges are designed around the assumption that you can do that.

    Where it falls down gameplay-wise for me is lack of polish. For example, not being able to see buffs and debuffs from the main map (having to use a menu for that is a real drag), or having to manually end my turn every time my units are done moving. I also feel the tutorial slides do a poor job of explaining the mechanics, and some experimentation is necessary. Additionally, camera control is just plain poor, and not being able to quickly or easily survey the entire map during battle is very annoying. Those few small fixes would really smooth out the game and make it seem more polished on the whole.

    Map design is good, and I like the height variation actually mattering a lot (spears can’t hit spaces above, HDD form can fly over any height, some characters can jump well, some can’t), but what drives me nuts are the hazards, or rather, how they only apply to your party. I had fully planned on knocking enemies back into traps, only to find that it didn’t apply to them. That’s a huge oversight in my book.

    Still, I found the gameplay to be consistently enjoyable, never chore-like. The large cast kept my strategic options interesting, and I did encounter some challenges at times. I never grind for levels though, so that’s worth noting.

    Totally agreed on the decision making parts. There was a lot of potential there, but it felt like a tacked on afterthought. As for the male self-insert regular guy secretary, I would’ve been okay with him if he functioned like the tactician in a Fire Emblem game, but it just comes off strangely in a series where the girls aren’t there to vie for male attention. I had the same gripe with PP, though here, it feels a touch more natural.

    In the end, I can only really recommend the game to Nep fans who are looking for a light weight SRPG with which to have fun. It’s not a great SRPG, to be sure, but it’s not bad either. I personally think you were a bit harsh, but I appreciate the honesty in your review. Just wanted to share my two cents :) Sorry this was so long!

  12. Gareth
    March 1, 2015 at 4:34 am

    I’m playing this at the moment and am enjoying it loads. I’m a sucker for strategy RPGs and the trademark Neptunia comedy always makes me chuckle.

  13. lpchaim
    March 1, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Yeah, seems my gut instinct was about right on this one. Simplistic and badly polished combat system with the usual Neptunia flare. Don’t like the busy and oddly proportioned chibi models either.

    Now what really gets me wondering is if the eventual Blanc game will be on 3ds because of her being the lead and the install base being a lot bigger, even though the fanbase itself might actually not be there. Adding to that, for consistency, if a Vert one is made someday it can’t just pop up on Xbox One, in Japan of all places.

  14. Dammage
    March 1, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I think that’s kind of appreciated coming off of a Disgaea game. I don’t really want to spend countless hours on other games like I do for those

  15. Morningstar
    March 2, 2015 at 4:23 am


    you know what funny? I was watching some fairy Fencer F videos and I saw a charatcer that looked familair for some reason. Now I know why

  16. Morningstar
    March 2, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Um I’d like to point out that the name of the franchise’s protagonist is “Neptune”, not “Neptunia” (I’d compare it to the Captain Marvel/Shazam thing but the renaming of the character makes that a moot point).

  17. Dimi Gronnings
    Dimi Gronnings
    March 2, 2015 at 7:21 am

    We know that, just an oversight. :P Thanks. Now fixed.

  18. Landale
    March 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Considering I was pointing out errors earlier, I’m almost kind of disappointed that I missed that one. Then I remember my time on other sites where seeing the name right was what caught eyes, not that ever present error. It would seem that conditioning hasn’t faded yet.

  19. Thanatos2k
    March 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    My decision to not play a single Neptunia game after I blew $60 on the first continues to be justified.

    After so long, they can’t even get the combat right?

  20. landlock
    March 4, 2015 at 4:20 am

    I’m actually bad a SRPGs so i’m glad to hear it’s on the easier side. :)

  21. Female Anime Face
    Female Anime Face
    March 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    After playing Tears to Tiara 2, I would never play another Sting developed SRPG. Loved, loved, loved the story and writing in Tears 2, but the battles were the most bland, generic, uninteresting system I’ve ever seen in an SRPG. Totally dull, I just wanted to get them over with so I could continue the story.

    Glad I decided not to pick this Noire game up.