In an alternate universe, a virus infects teenagers that makes them more aggressive and gives them enhanced endurance and strength. A series of islands was created to help the girls hone and control their virus abilities, since, if the virus goes out of control, bad things can happen to both the carriers and the people around them. So that’s the basic premise of Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- and I am never spelling out that last word again, so it’s just “Valkyrie Drive” from here on out.
“Valkyrie Drive” came out on the PC and PS Vita in the past couple of years, and if you like “Senran Kagura“, you’ll feel right at home in this game. A word of note, while I have the PC version, my PC specs could barely handle it, and I ended up renting the Vita version from Gamefly. So I could at least get a handle on the gameplay and characters.
Unlike “Senran Kagura”, there is only one group of girls. The sisters Rinka and Ranka, who fight with a sword and her fists respectively, the bow-using Mana, the spear-wielding Momo, Viola who fights with her sword and gun, Ms Chang, (who loves food and fights with two giant cleavers) and finally Koharu, who fights with a rapier, are your cast of characters. There’s a few NPCs in the game that are named and two DLC characters from the Valkyrie Drive -Mermaid- anime round out the cast.
Gameplay in stages is pretty straight-forward. Most stages you fight wave after wave of enemies, who get an upgraded form called “Error” later on, before taking on a boss, either one of the other girls or one of the four Pillar Gods of the island. Where Senran Kagura focuses on the “in the name of the Moon” magical girl-styled transformation, Valkyrie Drive goes more with an evolving weapons power-up.
You pair two girls up in each stage, a Liberator (who does the attacking) and an Extar (who becomes a) weapon. And the more aroused the Extar is, the more powerful the weapon become. There are four Drive levels. The first is back to back, second Drive is when the Liberator fondles the Extar’s breast, third drive is an intimate hug while Final Drive is a kiss that leaves the Extar completely naked and the weapon at its strongest form.
Late in the game, you allows for the Liberator and Extar to initiate a transformation that leaves the Liberator nearly naked and glowing (which you can turn off at will, since staying transformed uses power stock up). So “if” you’re thinking that this sounds like Bleach and DBZ, then you’re right. As it really does feel that way. Well, okay, you’re not able to fly all around the stage while Connected, but I think you get the idea.
Before I forget, when you have second, third and final drives active, you can do a level 1, level 2 or level 3 super, even while Connected. By the way, when Connected, you’re invulnerable to damage. The game doesn’t really clarify that, I had to look it up, since the damage output doesn’t increase. So now that we got the premise and the gameplay out-of-the-way, how about the story?
Well, the game follows sisters Rinka and Ranka as they arrive at the Bhikkhuni research and treatment island. It turns out that the girls have a mutated strain of the V-virus called a VR-Virus. This allows anyone who has it to be either a Liberator or an Extar.
When they first arrive, they get lost and run into Mana, who comes across as a real sweetheart when you first meet her and a bit later they run into Momo, who’s the complete opposite. In fact, Momo reminds me of Heero Yui from Gundam Wing when we first meet her. She didn’t care for friends, and she often says “I’ll kill you” to people who annoy her. Even when partnered up with Mana, her outlook doesn’t change for a while.
It takes a combination of Rinka getting hurt and Mana’s personality doing a complete turn-around for Momo to start to change. It’s not like Momo doesn’t have a reason for her attitude, she grew up on the battlefield and everyone she ever knew or cared about died, so she tried to avoid getting close because of it.
Of course, Momo doesn’t remember any of that. As she’s suffering from amnesia when we meet her, so it’s probably for the best. Oh, and Momo’s only fourteen, despite being just as tall and physically developed as the rest of the cast. As for the sisters, well, they’re really close. So how close are they exactly? Well, Ranka wants to get into her sister’s panties throughout the whole game, even wanting to get married to Rinka.
Yes, they’re sisters.
Yes, they’re blood-related.
Yes, the entire cast is made up of lesbians.
Shortly after Rinka gets hurt, the game starts to take a darker turn. It’s hard to explain it, but the feel of the game in the first part is dramatically different than the latter parts of the game. After Rinka comes back and a fight against one of the Pillar Gods that protect the island, a rather shocking development occurs that sets Rinka, Ranka and Momo to discover the truth about the island and the four Pillar Gods while Mana, Koharu and Viola try to stop them.
As for Ms. Chang, she doesn’t care either way, so long as there’s good food. That’s all she cares about. No, seriously, she’ll betray her friends if she’s paid enough. And, yes, she loves to eat. At one point, she comments “by the time I was finished with my second breakfast, it was already this late!” Viola and Koharu are the top two students of the class. Koharu joins in just after Rinka gets hurt. It quickly becomes obvious that the two are quite compatible with each other. The special memories that you can unlock by spending time in the dining room has Viola wondering if she can marry Koharu.
Truth be told though, and I’m not going to hide this. Mana is my least favorite character in the game. You see, after that Mana teams up with Viola, she becomes ambitious, which isn’t bad. However, she starts treating everyone else like dirt, manipulating the others around her, and generally being an absolute horrible person. Thankfully, you don’t play as her all that much after she becomes like that. Sadly enough, you can’t do much about her in the story. As for the shocking development that was discovered, well… I’ll leave that for you to find out.
It should be noted, however, that if the girls were to leave the island, the world government would abduct them, re-train them, and then sell them off as weapons to various parts of the world to fight until they die. So the game’s story is tied into the shocking development, but that’s all I’ll say on it (there will be no spoilers here!). As an aside, the game was an REAL pain in my butt to play… Because even on the Vita, the game crashed, and I wasn’t able to complete it. Thankfully enough though, there are videos up on Youtube that helped me finish the story at least.
So all in all. “Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkhuni” has it flaws, but it’s still a pretty good action game. Furthermore, Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkhuni” is even more lewd than “Senran Kagura”. In other words, the game “might” be worthy of your time and money if you can look past the said cons of the game.
+ Solid combat
+ Plenty of panty shots
+ Fanservice galore
+ Decent graphics, especially on the PC version (Ranka’s booty is more pronounced, for example)
– Platforming isn’t the game’s strong point
– Double nudity censor
– Very, VERY easy, even on hard you don’t need to worry against grunts
– Drags on a bit too much. By the time I got done with the Chaos route, I was ready to end it, but then the Order route appears
– Personal problems with the game made it hard to finish and enjoy
Sound and Music: 3/5
Replay Value: 3/5
“Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkhuni” is a solid crowd-control beat-em up. Sure, while it doesn’t do much to innovate the genre, it doesn’t hurt it either. So all in all, it’s a fun and enjoyable game. Well, at least for the most part. As the game that takes a while to get going for the story. However, once it does, you want to see it through to the very end.
Title: Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkhuni
Developer: Meteorise, HONEY∞PARADE GAMES
Resolution: Highest possible on PC
Release date: 2017-06-20
Spent time: +15 hours
Average grade internationally: 54,17% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: +18
Price: 29,99 Euros via Steam
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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