The New Neptunia Is A Love Letter To All Things Zombie

The New Neptunia Is A Love Letter To All Things Zombie
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The Neptunia game series has a simple premise: What if video game consoles were actually magical goddesses in a world filled with video game-inspired characters and in-jokes. Uberdimension Blanc + Neptune Faction Vs. The Zombie Army is more of the same but in a high school — and with zombies.

In the world of Uberdimension Blanc, the Goddesses, while still goddesses, are “studying abroad” at a human high school so they can better understand the wants and needs of their followers.

Of course, Neptune takes this as a golden opportunity to goof off and ends up becoming president of the film research club. Her goal? To make a zombie movie. Just one problem though: She has no idea how to write or direct. However, by appealing to Blanc’s ego, Blanc ends up as not only the writer and director of the film but the heroine as well.

Yet, just as their zombie filming is getting started, a real zombie outbreak occurs, turning the school’s population into the walking dead. Not to be deterred, Blanc opts to continue shooting during the zombie apocalypse — using the undead students as background set pieces for the action scenes.

The result is an impressively funny story that goes out of control as more and more goddess and game company-related characters are drawn into the movie-making ordeal — many cast as zombies despite the abundance of the real thing all around. The plot generally switches between the behind-the-scenes problems and actual scenes from the film — so we can see in detail how Blanc’s supposedly brilliant script becomes nothing but a mashup of every single zombie trope ever.

But as entertaining as the story is, the gameplay is rather uninspired. Uberdimension Blanc + Neptune Faction Vs. The Zombie Army is an underwhelming 3D hack-and-slash. As with many similar games, you face down waves of minions and slaughter them en masse with a mix of strong and weak attacks.

However, the levels are minuscule in size and the enemies are largely interchangeable. All you have to do is get them into a group and then plow through them all at once — it doesn’t matter if they look different or have different attack patterns if they never get to attack. Heck, in truth, about half the enemies on the screen at any time won’t even try to attack — they will just stand there waiting to die.

The bosses are similarly disappointing. Over the game’s 12 chapters you will face the same four or five of them again and again — easily a dozen times each. And like the normal enemies, there is almost no challenge to them. You simply wait for them to attack, dodge, get your own combo in when they pause afterwards, and then run out of range as they attack again. (Repeat as needed.)

The game boasts a sizeable roster of characters from across the other Neptunia games. As you play, you get money which can be used to customise them in any number of ways visually — from hair and clothes to accessories. Likewise you can use this cash to buy weapons and customise their gear.

In combat the characters all play uniquely with their own move sets. Unfortunately, once you find a single good move or combo, it’s unlikely you’ll ever feel the need to do any other attacks.

I, for example, discovered that one of Noire’s charge attacks knocks enemies — including most of the bosses — right on their butts for several seconds. During the stun time, I would simply press her strong attack — which does a good dozen hits in a 90 degree arc in front of her. Bosses and normal enemies alike had no defence against this.

Of course, not all characters have an unstoppable one-two punch. Some felt downright useless when compared to others. While it can be fun experimenting as you unlock new characters, they start at level one. So if you want them to be useful as one of your two controllable characters, a bit of grinding is needed.

Other than the story mode, Uberdimension Blanc + Neptune Faction Vs. The Zombie Army comes with a coop multiplayer mode. In it, up to four people can team up locally or online and fight various new strong boss monsters. While I was a bit late to the party on this one (and was therefore pitifully weak compared to my partners), this was the most fun I had with the game. There was no easy way to stomp these bosses — it was simply a matter of timing and skill.

To put it in the simplest terms, Uberdimension Blanc + Neptune Faction Vs. The Zombie Army is all flash, little substance. The story is good for a chuckle — especially if you’re a zombie fan — and the characters look great with all their customisable options. But the gameplay — outside of the multiplayer — is pitifully lacklustre. If you’re really invested in either zombies parody or Neptunia, you may find enough enjoyable to be worth your time. But if not, this probably isn’t the game for you.

Uberdimension Blanc + Neptune Faction Vs. The Zombie Army (Geki Jigen Tag Blanc + Neptune VS Zombie Gundan) was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita on 15 October 2015. There is currently no word on a Western release.