Neptune has logged in to a new adventure! This time we join our favorite purple haired fourth-wall breaking protagonist as she explores the world of the massively popular in-universe MMORPG 4 Goddesses Online!
This time in Neptune spin-offs, we take a trip into Vert’s (Lady Vert for PY – Editor’s Note: HELL YA!) land of MMOs, with a pseudo MMORPG experience that’ll poke you right where it hurts, replete with tea facts, bust jokes and making fun of all those people that live in their basement playing MMOs. As much as I enjoy the series and its spin-offs, I’ll be the first to say that 4GO feels…clunky, I suppose is the best way to describe it. It’s like taking all of the aspects of an MMO, but trying to tailor it to a more traditional RPG playstyle, while retaining the MMO elements. If you’re here for the punchline, it’s that 4GO, despite my hopes, was rather…well, average.
The best part of 4GO is, without doubt, the writing. The Neptunia series has always been one to not really give a damn about breaking the fourth wall or cracking a joke at their own fans expense, and they certainly aren’t holding back this time. Neptune and her band of fellow goddesses, and sisters, get advance beta testing codes for the sequel of Vert’s favourite MMO “4 Goddesses Online”, so with a distinct lack of willingness to get their work done, they embark on an “in-universe, in-game” quest to be the first group to beat the game. Their goal quickly goes from simply beating the game to stopping an actual hacking attempt on the games servers. Filled with enough jokes making fun of basically every type of person who plays online games, coupled with what I feel has the best series running voice acting I’ve heard in a while, Idea Factory and Compile Heart really do set up some stellar jokes, gags, and dialogue.
Gameplay is pretty basic, being a primarily hack-and-slash a la MMO style. You’ve got your standard attack combos, a jump, a guard, an item bar and a skill set. You have MP to use your skills, and you gain MP back by attacking things or using items. You also have a counter available if you guard at the right time. The combat is one of the biggest definitions of “tedious” and bosses generally devolve into glorified sponges spouting the same two, occasionally three, moves over and over again, with a pause between attacks long enough to go make yourself a sandwich, wash the car, do your kids homework and still make it back in time to guard.
The enemy AI is also really dumb, and I’m gonna use the last boss as an example since it’s so perfect. The last boss has four attacks, as far as I’m aware: a single target melee, a ranged multi-shot, an AoE spread, and full area attack that, as far as I know, hits the entire arena. If you stand just outside his melee, but too close for his ranged attack, he will just sit there firing the ranged attack at you and missing. Seriously.
On the other hand, your ally AI tends to be pretty decent, as you can take a party of four with you into battle. Except they suck at the last boss, because they can’t block the area attack, which means you’ll probably end up having to more or less solo the last boss, which only extends the time spent, not the difficulty. Otherwise, your party mates heal and buff often enough that I was rather pleased.
You do have a lot of characters and classes to choose from, starting with a Dark Knight, Paladin, Cleric, and Enchanter and expanding as you progress through the game although combat won’t really change all that much. There were some interesting parts, like having a bonus boss due to eggplants (which Neptune hates) and then solving the problem with Pudding (which she loves), and the music was really great too.
On the other hand, the multiplayer is one of the worst multiplayer components I’ve ever seen, consisting of usually a few one-off quests per guild rank, and basically kicking you from the party after completion. It’s super laggy, and generally only the host has a smooth time, if at all. Many of the quests in the single player are basically just rehashed, buffed, or palette swapped bosses, or killing way too many mooks to be anything other than tedious. Which is a little funny, considering that describes my first MMORPG experience to a ‘T’. Regardless of whether it’s a subtle way of showing everything wrong with MMORPGs, or just an unfortunate gameplay choice, I wasn’t particularly playing for the combat, but rather for the characters and their interactions.