Manufacturer:Valkyrie Drive ; Bhikkhuni
Publisher: Pqube & Marvelous
Genre:3rd Person Hack and Slash Adventure
Platforms: PS Vita Exclusive
Game Supplied by: Publisher
Let’s get this out the way from the start. There is a lot of cultural differences between the East and the West, for which the contents of this game, Valkyrie Drive, highlights. What is acceptable in Japan is very uncomfortable in Europe. But let’s not dwell on this aspect too much as there are some equally uncomfortable game designs in some western games, like GTA and Carmageddon.
The meat and potatoes of Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni are as follows. A virus has broken out that only affects girls in their teens and early twenties. These girls are shipped out to four secluded islands for treatment to treat either the A or V virus they have. One such island is called Bhikkhuni. Their treatment though, and the way to cure it, is that they have to fight each other and the other girls on the island.
The opening cinematic of the game is incredibly well presented, just like the opening sequence of a real anime, and highlights the features of the game which is fighting with a lot of huge wobbly chested girls, sometimes completely naked, and kissing each other. Despite this there is actually a pretty decent and catchy story line underneath the bombardment of on screen boobs, that will take around 25 hours to complete. The narrative initially is pretty long winded and tiresome, but does set up the different aspects of the characters well. You don’t just play as one character either. You can play as one of up to seven, but for the first 5 hours or so will be spent with either the sisters Rinka and Ranka, or Mana and Mono.
After the first few hours of set up, the narrative, although still long winded in it’s text presentation, does start to flow a little more and i found myself very interested in the events to keep playing for long periods to find out what happens. Characters are well acted and voiced too. Each segment of the game is split into around 30 minutes of text to read then around 20 minutes of fighting to the end of the level and then another 20 minutes of text.
The combat system has to rank as one of the better systems I’ve used for hack and slash for a long time. The controls felt intuitive which meant i could express myself with the characters very well. X and then hold and release X, makes you jump them dash towards a locked enemy to strike them if you have locked on. Square attacks, Triangle is heavy attack, and Circle is lift the enemy up. It overall felt very much like the systems in DMC ( Devil May Cry of 2013 ).
As there are different playable characters you have different weapons to use. Sometimes it’s a sword, for mid range attacks, another character uses a bow from distance, and another uses her fists up close. You only play as a pair in each chapter, but on screen will only ever be one player. This is where it gets a bit weird. You see one of the pair is the weapon and the other the user of that weapon. During combat after landing a number of hits each player can go into a charged mode called “drive” which means the power levels of you and your weapon are increased. After each drive you loose items of clothing though, until the 4th drive per level where you are basically naked!
When you are attacked you also start to loose your clothing and vice versa for the enemies. Also as you are fighting everyone and anything to defeat the virus, you also fight against characters you will later play as.
The enemies were varied and the boss fights magnificent, and the combat flowed superbly, and was fun if a bit easy. For more of a decent challenge, start the game on hard mode.
As well as combat there are collectables to find and secrets to unlock. I was hoping the titillation of the game would be just a throw away aspect but it’s actually part of the narrative and indeed gets involved here in the gameplay too. To access certain secret areas your character has to have her massive boobs groped by a security bot to ensure she is of the required level to gain entry. Tacky and gross as this is, it’s made even worse by the fact that while this “groping” is happening the camera zooms into the girl’s face, and it’s very obvious she is not liking whats happening. In the west and in my book, this is called sexual assault, but in Japan it’s part of the game! Make of this what you will.
The collectables come in the shape of new items to dress your character in while in a hub called the dining hall. Here you can play mini games to win underwear, change outfits, talk to other characters and look at records and artwork. As you play you also collect points which can be spent at a shop to use on more outfits or consumables.
As well as the story mode there is also :
Survival mode to obviously survive as long as possible against waves of enemies.
Training mode to hone your battle skills.
Challenge mode to complete suggested challenges.
Online mode to fight other players online in three modes. Strip battle, Liberation battle, or Melee Battle.
Although there are three online modes, they are all basically the same, battle players 1 on 1 or 4 v all to set goals or targets to win. Think team deathmatch or free for all.
The online aspect worked really well apart from the fact it’s quite difficult to tell if you are hitting an opponent or not. It also took a while to find a lobby to join but i wasn’t sure if this was because of a lack of players or a slow system. Once connected, it worked very well, was good fun that does add value to the game.
The audio for all, be it for story or online is pretty good. Great sound effects for battles and decent in game music. The voice acting was also really good as well and the different characters and their styles shone through. For example, Mono is an aggressive recluse, and that comes across in her voice acting.
The only technical hitch I found was a tiny bit of screen slow down, but absolutely nothing game breaking at all.
It’s hard not to be distracted by the sheer volume of boobs on show here and rather than shy away from this, the game developers have basically highlighted the girls huge chests. It’s a talking point in the narrative, part of the gameplay, and constantly in your face during the lengthy text presentations.
But don’t let this fool you as underneath this blatant titillation is a very solid, well made, well presented, fun, superb game. The combat is standout, the amount of content superb, both on and offline, and what with collectables on top of a 25 hour campaign, a lot things to do for your money.
The only real issue is how you the player will feel at the sexulization of young girls all the time on your screen, be it their constantly wobbling humongous boobs, the clothes falling off or still pictures and sequences. For me, I have to say, during some sequences it felt uncomfortable to be playing and I don’t think the 16 rating is high enough at all. That aside, it’s a still great game.