There is a decent 3D brawler buried somewhere underneath the awful story, dull characters, repetitive minigames, and creepy aspects of Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni. What could have been an entertaining—if short-lived—dumb action game is ruined by the game’s reliance on boring, unsettling, poorly written stuff to pad a lack of gameplay.
Players will control seven different women as they battle to overcome a virus that lets them turn into weapons. Each of the characters of Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni is designed around a single character trait—the peacemaker, the haughty fighter, the driven silent fighter, the moron, etc. Then, you get to see these character traits interact, over and over and over again, saying something in-line with their one bit of personality for hours until the game finally ends.
Bad character isn’t normally a complaint that sits well in a brawler, but Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni is obsessed with its crummy plot and characters. It will make players sit through ten-to-fifteen minutes of cutscenes for each of its stages, where these girls stand and stare at each other, breasts drifting in the breeze, while they babble on at each other about whatever useless topic is being used to let them talk in the exact same way they always do.
This is another part of the problem. Nothing really happens in these cutscenes save for the characters looking at each other, gesturing periodically while standing there. There’s no interaction between them, no sense of connection between characters—just described movement and reactions, making an already uninteresting moment look like someone is having four dolls talk to each other.
Luckily, you can skip it all and get right to the action, which is clunky and repetitive, but entertaining. All of the game’s seven playable girls have several unique moves they can do that are executed in the same way, letting players comfortably switch between them without a learning curve. Most feel appreciably different, although there are a few too many swords that behave similarly.
Each character is paired with another girl, and their connection will allow the player to jump into several states of Drive. Drive states, of which there are four, offer boosts to combat capabilities and give new moves and finishers. Unlocking them just involves wailing on enemies long enough to charge a purple bar under your health, with each stage of drive or finisher costing a full bar (which you can store). It adds a nice benefit to look out for while crushing the game’s basic foes.
Basic does describe them well. The game has a handful of gals to fight, pitting players against melee fighters, animals, larger machines, magic users, and defensive units. Other than prioritizing magic users and machines, most can be handled, on any difficulty, by spamming basic attacks nonstop. Even late game enemies, which are just palette swaps of the handful from the start, offer little challenge besides increased durability. If players are just looking to mindlessly smash foes and feel powerful, though, it’s fun.
Fighting the other characters as bosses makes things a bit more interesting. They have access to all of the abilities they normally do when under player control, making them more agile in combat. They still tend to be complete pushovers, but at least they do a bit more than just stand and take the hits. This may come from the game’s levelling system, which grants increased strength as they complete stages, but it does so far too easily, making the player excessively strong quickly. But at least when you hit the bosses hard, their clothes come off, right?
Many won’t care if the plot or game is bad, since they’ve come here for other reasons. The seven curvy gals can be dressed up in various ways, with the game offering a huge selection of underwear for players to dress them up in. There are hundreds of different undergarments…or so it would like you to think. Like combat, the game often just palette swaps most pairs, only offering a few different variants of colours. It seems like a lot while unlocking them in stages, or by essentially playing a rigged slot machine, but it honestly doesn’t offer that many styles.
You can take the girls into the changing room to customize the clothes they wear and their lingerie, which is where some will notice the lack of much clothing variety. Others may be distracted by the fact that they can prod at the girls with the mouse, raising their Rack Rank by molesting them. Do this enough, and for some reason you can give them a massage as they float through space, clicking on hearts that appear on the girls’ bodies as they whirl around.
Even if this is what you came here for, don’t expect much. The girls all have relatively the same body type, making the interactions all feel kind of the same. Their random flying around the screen is also kind of odd, making clicking the hearts frustrating since you need to click them when they fill up with colour. Also, the game also doesn’t tell you that, leaving you to guess if you’re doing any of it right.
At least here, they seem to be enjoying your contact, though. In the dressing room, they beg you to stop touching them, crying out for you to stop as you click at them. It’s not exactly appealing to be touching someone who doesn’t want to be touched, making these scenes feel really gross. That some of the girls grope and touch each other in unwanted ways throughout the story kind of adds to this sense of molestation that makes the game’s attempts to be sexy churn the stomach.
Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni is a failure at almost everything it tries to do. It is, at best, a decent action game, but one weighed down by its terrible plot, crummy characters, and feeble, if not off-putting, attempts to be racy.