Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- review
If you enjoyed the Senran Kagura games than you will love Marvelous’ new PC title, Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni-. The game takes the clothes tearing of the Senran Kagura franchise and throws in girls that transform into weapons by forming relationships with other girls. Yes, Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- is another fan-service action game, although despite what I just said it is surprisingly tamer than the Senran Kagura franchise.
Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- involves seven girls who are infected with the VR-Virus, a special strain of the V-Virus, this virus allows the girls to transform into weapons and control those who become weapons. The girls are on Bhikkhuni, an artificial island that was created to help cure those with the V-virus, because out of all the islands created only Bhikkhuni has successfully cured a girl infected with the virus. However, to be cured of the virus the girls need to constantly fight each other as well as their four teachers, who are known as the four pillar gods, as they are the protectors of the island who look like a mechanical turtle, tiger, dragon and bird (it is kind of similar to the story of the four gods that protect Kyoto).
While the majority of the story involves the seven girls taking part in training battles things change by the end of the tenth chapter as the seven girls find that there is more going on than they were told. From chapter 10 onward the battles continue per usual, but the story goes from focusing on the idyllic lives of the seven girls to something a lot more insidious. I don’t want to spoil too much, but teachers’ mechanical appearance isn’t just for some quirky design reason, but it is due to what is really going on in the island.
Now, while what I said might sound sinister, the sinister aspect dissipates rather quickly, while the dark secret of the island is revealed, the girls are shocked, but they continue to search for more secrets all in an effort to well have free will. Valkyrie Drive’s story might not be the best in the world, but it shows how a lack of trust can have consequences, if the secrets were open from the start there would be no massive push to uncover a conspiracy and the issues could have been resolved in a more peaceful manner, after all, there is no real enemy in the game, unless you count the fear of a world government getting onto the island and using all the infected girls as weapons.
Now, before going into gameplay let’s talk about the seven playable girls. I will say the girls were interesting, they all had their unique quirks with the likes of Ranka Kagurazaka having a happy outlook on life and wanting to make the world a better place, and Mana Inagawa who starts out as a pacifist, but slowly becomes somewhat of a yandere style character as she becomes more involved and complicit with the actions of the teachers. The one thing that is similar about all the characters is the size of their breasts, which just like the Senran Kagura games all seem to have a mind of their own as during the game’s visual novel style conversations their breasts appear to be moving all over the place.
Now, let’s look at the gameplay. As I stated earlier the seven girls are infected with the VR-Virus, this allows each girl to become a Liberator or an Extar. Liberators are the characters the player controls and the Extars are support characters that powers up the liberator’s weapon. During the story mode, the parties are fixed, although when you replay past missions you can customise the two girl team. When engaging in the game’s action combat you slowly fill your character’s Synchro gauge, and when you fill it and gain a Synchro Stock you can activate your character’s Drive, an ability that sees the Extar merge with your weapon. The merging involves a cutscene that ranges from the two standing back to back, to the two girls kissing.
As you progress through the game you can unlock up to four Drive modes, these modes are unlocked by levelling up a character’s Extar Drive Rank, to fully utilise the Drive mode you need to get to rank 10. The Drive Rank isn’t the only levelling system as the character playing a Liberator can also level up. Levelling up increases your characters HP, attack and defence. Levelling up your Drive Rank increases your HP, attack and defence multiplier. Levelling both Liberator and Extar stats is important as it improves your survivability in combat.
Apart from Drive mode, what else does the combat offer? Well, the game offers Drive break attacks, which drain your Synchro stock, and Phantom mode. The Phantom mode allows for special attacks that can be activated after you perform a launcher attack and if the enemy is successfully entrapped you can perform a phantom attack. If you successfully pull off a Phantom mode attack you are giving an attack boost that remains for as long as you are in combat, in theory, if you have the final Drive mode activated and every attack boost bar filled, you will have a 400% damage boost to your attacks.
So, while the game’s combat system sounds good, what is combat like? Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- offers a nice fast and fluid action focused combat that allows you do an almost endless array of combo attacks. However, the game’s poor camera controls places a heavy reliance on the lock-on system, which is a system that isn’t without its flaws. The lock on system tends to constrict your field of view leaving you open to ranged attacks, causes the camera to clip through characters and the environment, and changing to a specific target requires you to cycle through nearly every character on the screen until you reach the one you want, and honestly by that point 10+ enemies have knocked you to the floor and repeatedly kicked you.
So, what does Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- have to offer apart from a story and combat? Well, just like the Senran Kagura games, there is a dressing room where you can dress up or dress down the seven characters, and while in the dressing room you can take part in the Heart Catch mini-game, this mini-game involves massaging the girls. Leaving the dressing room you can romance all the girls, as you romance them you get cutscenes, which are surprisingly tame.
Now, leaving the game’s raunchy elements, the game offers a challenge mode, which involves completing various challenges, for example, Perform Revenge 3 times within the time limit. Survival mode, which has you fight against X waves of enemies, and finally an online mode that allows you up to four-player ranked and unranked matches that involve strip battles, liberation battles and melee battles. Unfortunately, when I was reviewing this game the online mode was void of players.
So let’s look at the issues. Besides the issue with the lock-on system and camera, what else is wrong with the game? Well enemies tend to get stuck on terrain, for example, I saw an enemy behind a fence and the enemy just constantly walked into it. There are also clipping issues as during the visual novel conversations as articles of clothes such as Momo’s tie clip through her breasts.
In terms of graphics, the characters and their attacks are visually appealing as their visual style make them stand out. In terms of audio, the game is, unfortunately, Japanese audio only, so this means you will be doing a lot of reading.
Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- offers fast and fluid action combat alongside an interesting power-up mechanic. However, apart from an impressive combat system, the game relies too much on fan service.
|+ Combat is fast and fluid||– The story is lacking|
|+ The Drive mode and Phantom mode makes combat more enjoyable||– A strong focus on Fanservice|
|– Numerous issues, including enemies getting stuck on terrain|
|Meteorise,Honey Parade Games||Marvelous (PC), PQube (PS Vita)||Action||16+||PC, PS Vita||June 20, 2017 (PC), October 11, 2016 (PS Vita)|
For more information on Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni-, visit https://marvelousgames.com/.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.