[Review] Senran Kagura Estival Versus (PC) – More than Boobs?
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS Vita
Publisher: XSEED Games, Marvelous
Release: 17th March 2017 (PC) 18th March 2016 (PS4, PS Vita)
Price: 39.99 (PC)
Review Key provided by Marvelous
To be honest, I´ve never played a Senran Kagura game yet, even tho I was always interested to see if it can offer more than boobs and panties. So, with the release of the PC-Port of its latest entry in the west, I thought the time has come to finally take a look at it.
Estival Versus main storyline follows the events of the Kagura Millenium Festival. An event in which the four shinobi schools, known from its predecessor Shinovi Versus, are dragged to a tropical island to fight each other over the big price: The road to a Kagura. However there´s more to that island, all fallen Shinobis are resurrected on this island, leading to some unexpected reunitions.
To be honest, this sounds quite interesting and it actually was during my first hours. The concept of family members meeting each other again and the decision of staying at the island and be reunited with your lost family or going back to the real world could have given the game quite a deep undertone. But did anyone expect that? Of course not, instead of using this potential we mainly watch the different characters bathing in the sun, fishing and grabbing each others boobs. During the quite long story mode Estival Versus offers a huge amount of dialogues, which are mostly filled by the stereotypical chit chatting about anything except the festival, combined with the flat and stereotypical characters it´s often exactly what you would expect from it. Only a few times this game will actually try to create emotional moments by using some of the very rare more complex characters, which often just fails.
Estival Versus doesn´t offer an interesting story, despite its quite good base story, and it never tries to involve me in it. It feels more like a relaxed school trip, than an actual competition and the few times it tries to change it, Estival Versus fails due to its lack of character development and personality. Additionally it delivers no background for people like me, who are unfamiliar with this franchise, forcing you to either inform yourself or stumble in the dark for some hours. Yet, I can´t say I hated the story or that it annoyed me, it´s lovely written and due to the extensive amount of dialogues for such a game and some character development I actually began to like some characters, despite their flatness.
Since the Kagura Millenium Festival won´t always offer fun and boobs for you and the girls Estival Versus offers a Dynasty Warriors-like Gameplay mixed with an huge array of characters. Each character comes with its own handful of moves, that can be unlocked by leveling up, own Shinobi transformation, which adds some special attacks to the mix and frantic mode, boosting your damage and decreasing your defence. All these different things, while not being complex at all, feel and work surprisingly well. When you throw dozens of enemies in the air to finish ’em off with a crushing blow just feels very satisfying. Overall Estival Versus´s combat may not be very complex but it works really well, offers some really cool looking moves and reacts very responsive to your input, making it a really good action game, which I honestly didn´t expect it to be.
However Senran Kagura has some problems with variation, especially at the beginning. Since you have to unlock nearly the half move set by leveling up the character you don´t have many moves, leading to a repetition of the same 3-4 moves for every character. The Shinobi and Frantic mode help to prevent that but since they all share the same moves and only add some special attacks it comes out at the same. Luckily the game has such a huge character cast, which are the main reason why no mission feels the same. Every character has their own unique moves with own button orders to learn, no character feels like a copy of another one. To discover and learn these different characters is really fun and keeps you motivated throughout the campaign, while previous character gain levels and become interesting again, due to new moves. So, even tho Estival Versus doesn´t offer a lot combos or depth it still works surprisingly well during the campaign and always kept me motivated along with the well working mechanics.
Additionally to the various “mass”-enemies you will also fight more powerful boss-like encounters in form of other Shinobi girls. Since they can use the same skills as you and will also transform let them stand out, making them the highlights of Estival Versus. But the most important thing of these fights is clearly the “Cloth Break”-feature, ye it´s exactly what it sounds like, by doing enough damage or performing certain actions you´re able to break the cloths of the Shinobi girl, till they have nothing left than their skin, cool … I guess? Yet that´s not the only fan-service this game has to offer, every grunt looses their cloth too if you deal too much damage, during the Shinboi transformation you will be naked too. the Frantic mode lets you fight in underwear and much more! Well, you have to like such “special” things or be able to laugh about them, like me but I think you know what to expect from it if you even searched for a Review of this game.
PC Port: Let´s come to the main question of this PC-version, can a japanese PC-port be any good? In short, yes it can. The benefit of Estival Versus’ mediocre “standard” japanese game graphics is it low hardware hunger. It never exceeded more than 50-60% usage on my GTX1070 and that was on 4k60fps. What did I just say? Ye, this game supports 60fps and resolutions up to 4k. Combined with its good range of options and good optimisation it´s one of the better japanese ports I´ve seen, especially since you can rebind the keys. It never crashed, doesn´t have weird frame pacing, nothing standing between you and 4k Boob physics!
Senran Kagura Estival Versus truly surprised me, it offers an enjoyable story,a really good action based combat, which sadly gets too repetitive in my eyes, and a lot of Boobs and fan-service, which comes in the ultimate package with the PC-version! If you´re a Senran Kagura fan you probably already picked it up but if you want to try it out like me I would really like recommend it, due to it´s fun gameplay but since it provides so few background information and requires you to play the predecessor or dive into the wiki I don´t know if I blindly can. It´s definitely more than boobs but has many problems, especially story-wise, leading to a fun but way not perfect game.