Was your beach body ready when Senran Kagura Estival Versus came out? Because even if summer’s over, there’s still much to come from Life and Hometown Man Kenichiro Takaki and SK’s little sister project Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni.
In the world of Valkyrie Drive, an illness broke out in girls in their teens and twenties, giving them great mental and physical capabilities, allowing them to turn into weapons when sexually aroused. The illness is caused by a virus classified in two types: “A-virus”, which turns girls into Ecstars; and “V-virus”, which turns them into Liberators. The government created several islands to quarantine the patients; one of these islands is Bhikkhuni, the only one to successfully treat girls. The story begins when the sisters Rinka and Ranka Kagurazaka arrive to the island to get treated, but they are a special case, as they are infected by the “VR-virus”, which grants them the abilities of both Ecstars and Liberators. In the island, they meet the rest of the cast, whom also are infected by the VR-Virus.
Before going in with gameplay mechanics, I must make clear: I played Valkyrie Drive’s Japanese version, and there are a few differences between it and the western port. The latter has an advantage over the former, as it is much lighter than it (about 300mb from the PSN) including all the patches that came along the way for the Japanese version (which are about a whopping 1-3 GB in size). Now with that out-of-the-way we can continue. The game has short, easy combos to follow and each character plays differently when controlling them as Liberators; on that, a Liberator is the character you control, while an Ecstar is the companion who will transform into a weapon.
The first time you play a part of the story you must do it with determined girls, but once done you can choose whichever combination you like. Either because you’re comfortable with the Liberator and the stats of the Ecstar, or because you want to see your favorite girl combo once they perform a Drive. Oh, but I didn’t forget about the Drive! It is the moment when the two girls link, and the Esctar becomes the Liberator’s weapon; raising her stats, healing her and changing her moveset.
There are four Drive Stages, each stronger –and sexier- than the former; the Liberator excites the Ecstar, and she will transform into the weapon, giving us a flashy sequence along with a nice view of her underwear. Now back on less sexy mechanics, aerial combat is well fleshed out here, and as you perform combos that launch the enemy and keep you in the air you will receive an attack bonus that stacks. Other mechanics that gives this boost is Revenge, when you get back up right after an enemy knocks you out.
Another thing that boosts you is a perfect evasion maneuver which will fill the bar that allows you to perform a Drive or a special attack. There are other modes to play as well, Survival and Challenge Mode: in Survival Mode you fight waves of enemies until you are defeated, and in Challenge mode you must perform certain things or defeat certain enemies to win. In spite of this Valkyrie Drive is not a difficult game, for the most part, but there are some difficulty spikes in certain parts that will catch you with your guard down.
Sadly enough, I couldn’t find someone to play some of the games online modes with as I looked for open rooms to play in (`the same could be said about the ones that I made myself as well), perhaps the game being from another region had something to do with that? I can say, however, that online mode includes Melee Battle, where four players share a stage and fight to not be knocked off of it. Another thing that got me disappointed is the few options we have in girls, even with the Mermaid DLC included, but this is a new IP and hopefully with some time we will see the cast grow in all sizes, if you know what I mean. A problem that scared me a couple of times is that the game froze; I can’t say if this happens to the western version, but it seems the game is heavy graphics-wise and puts a strain on the Vita. It was just a couple of times but since then I’ve been a bit wary about it.
Many may point out that Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkuni shares many similarities with its big sister series Senran Kagura, particularly with the recent Estival Versus, albeit this may be because of them sharing the same home console. Still, while similar, they’re not the same product. Furthermore, I should make it very clear that Estival Versus is closer to Musou with the amount of enemies to make long combos. While Valkyrie Drive you’re prompted to finish as fast as you can and with less damage, though there is a trophy for getting a 999 combo (which isn’t an easy task, I must add). That´s just the half of it though, because both have a room where you can dress and touch the girls (Dressing Room for SK and Communication Room for VD). They also offer side stories for the girls (Shinobi Girl’s Heart for Senran Kagura and Affection Novel for Valkyrie Drive), and both live for the Life and Hometown motto; but Valkyrie Drive got me with the pretty visuals, awesome boss fights and Rinka Kagurazaka.
I previously mentioned the Communication Room and its similarities with its big sister the Dressing Room, but Valkyrie Drive takes a step further with the former and makes the touching an important part of the gameplay. There you touch the girls to raise their Rack Rank, which will be tested by the Keeper in different stages and, if the girl’s rack is deemed worthy (or even the right girl as Keepers look for specific girls), the girl will be taken to another room where a reward is waiting, which can be more accessory slots or new lingerie. There are two ways to raise their rank: the old way, touching the girls yourself; and the fast way, with the Heart Catch mini-game. To play you must first take the girl up to level 20 and then get a Heart Catch ticket from Echigoya’s store. The game itself isn’t too difficult; just tap on the hearts as they fill and you’ll give your chosen girl a massage. When time’s up you’ll get quite a lot of experience, and if you did really well the girl will certainly be more pleased with your magic touch next time.
+ Good aerial combat
+ Decent panty selection
+ Pretty visuals/art style
+ Awesome OST
+ Nice level/stage design
– Small character roster
– Froze a couple of times
– Little variety in the dresses available in-game
Replay Value: 3.5/5
Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni is an enjoyable game with pretty visuals, fun gameplay and awesome music. It’s not without some flaws, but they were so small that I didn’t really mind them after a while. Simply put, Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni is a worthy addition to anyone’s PSVita library, and I hope to see more iteration of it in the future.
Title: Valkyrie Drive – Bhikkhuni
Release date: 2016-09-30 (EU), 2016-10-11 (NA)
Spent time: 50 hours
Average grade internationally: 80:00% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: +16
Price: 39.99€ / 39.99$ USD via Steam
The review copy was provided by Play-Asia. We (TGG) are also a part of the Play-Asia family, and we may receive a profit cut out of your purchase via
the Play-Asia links in this article.
The Gaming Ground
More by Guest Author:
Save 3$ with our Play-Asia coupon code "thegg"