Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- is a strange game.
Its premise, that sisters Rinka and Ranka have been shipped to an isolated island in the hope of controlling the mysterious illness they have been stricken with, sets it up perfectly to be a fun-filled action game. Why? Because conveniently, the V-Virus they both have – as well as the other girls that inhabit the island – can only be controlled by battling each other. Anywhere. At any time. But despite this, it would rather bore you to death with countless inessential scenes of inane chatter that just sap the joy out of everything.
None of the girls ever really have anything that interesting or profound to say, and most of the comedy falls decidedly flat; you just sit through scene after scene of boringly presented narrative across the game’s 16 chapters, sometimes getting to engage in a bit of fisticuffs that does actually prove to be fairly entertaining. Whether or not the bite-sized chunks of action are worth all the tedium, however, is questionable.
Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni-‘s combat system is fast-paced and deceptively deep. You have the usual mix of light and heavy attacks, but things get interesting when you start to implement launch attacks and follow-up chasers into the mix. Before you know it you’re pulling off extended flashy combos with ease, starting on the ground before taking the action to the air and then back again. The attacks performed after this chasing jump, dubbed a Phantom Dash, are extra damaging, rewarding your skill with the quick dismissal of your average foes. But things get more challenging when you take on one of the island’s girls one-on-one.
I say one-on-one, but technically each fight between the girls stationed on the island is a two-on-two affair. You see, the V-Virus that they are all inflicted with means that they can turn their bodies into weapons for whoever they are partnered up with to use. While you only ever control one fired-up girl in battle then, by entering drive mode you take your weaponised partner in hand to inflict more pain on your adversaries than ever before. Oh, and as you batter your virus-stricken friends, their clothes often take the brunt of the damage, leaving them understandably red in the face.
If that all sounds rather crazy, then that’s because it is. And that’s why it astounds me how tedious Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- manages to be the majority of the time. Away from the yawnful storytelling, you’ve got basic relationship building to do, a dressing room where you can outfit any of the game’s girls to your desire and complete a dubious massage mini-game, and a shop where you can buy helpful items and “print” new items of clothing. You’ve also got a survival mode, a challenge mode, and an online battle mode for up to four players. Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkuni- can be a veritable source of pure entertainment and fun aside from some minor camera issues if you want it to be, but the main attraction is devastingly slow-paced and dull.
Beginning life as a PlayStation Vita title, one thing I will say about Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- on PC is that it’s a good port. The visuals won’t amaze you but they’ve been spruced up quite nicely, and, if you’ve got a rig that can manage it, it can run at a wonderfully fluid 60fps. My experience has been free of any bugs or crashes as well, which is always very much welcomed.
Of course, one of the main attractions of Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- for many players will be big bouncy boobs, and yeah, it’s got plenty of them. Whether or not they’re worth the boredom that accompanies them, however, is up to you. Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- presents itself as an action game, and had the focus been on delivering one instead of a poorly presented and utterly dull visual novel with action elements it would have probably been quite easy to recommend. Unfortunately though, it is what it is, and so unless you have a great deal of patience, it’s not really worth the price of admittance.