Senran Celebration Day 3 – Senran Kagura Estival Versus (2016) Video Game Review

Another day, another Senran Kagura review. Last time in the festivities of celebrating Senran Kagura’s 8th anniversary, we looked at the 3DS game Deep Crimson. In that review I declared it my favourite game in the franchise, I loved the gameplay, the story and the customisation it offered. As mentioned last review, we’re skipping over Shinovi Versus and Bon Appetit as they were games I never played, so instead we skip right to the grand old year of 2016, and onto the PS4 and Senran Kagura Estival Versus.

Story


This story carries a much more light hearted tone than the previous games reviewed in this month, a trend that would continue for the rest of the series into Peach Beach Splash. The story is that the girls are all dragged into the afterlife, or purgatory of sorts, and must compete in a tournament allowing them to receive that which they truly desire. This story isn’t necessarily focused on a larger overarching plot, but rather it acts somewhat like a character study, many of the missions and dialogue segments pertaining to a specific character or group of characters in their own little story. This is what I love about this game, and it’s what i feel this franchise is very good at. In this game the character roster is pretty gigantic, we’re talking like 30+ characters at this point, which would make a larger plot involving all the characters difficult and fairly cluttered. So they choose to keep the major story in the background until the final act begins to take form, while allowing for some excellent character interactions and some adorable side plots that just ooze charm. By this point in the series I feel the team has realized that for a series with buxom ninja waifus in it, the wouldn’t need to try with a serious plot, and so embraced the silly nature and just went with it. So in conclusion, this plot and story is pretty loose and lax, but it works in the context of the series, has some really nice mini stories woven into it and ultimately helps to circumvent the massive cast. Speaking of…

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F-F-FIGHT!

Characters


Now this is where I have to diverge from what I did in the last two reviews. What I mean is I can’t talk about the different factions separately like last time because there’s simply too many characters to cover. The cast has now more than doubled with 2 more factions and a whole heaping of other side characters to round it all off. Plus, while each character impacted the story in their own unique ways in the previous two games, this time round they serve more as protagonists of their own smaller stories that cross over with one another while a select few characters, namely Asuka, Homura and the newcomers Miyabi of the new Hebijo academy and Yumi of the Gessen Academy, all unravel the plot bit by bit until the climax. Some other characters do have a place in the plot, namely Ryouna and Ryobi as their sister Ryoki is an essential character to the plot. But enough about that, let’s talk about the characters themselves. You know…despite the large and at times overwhelming cast, they manage these characters pretty well. Each character we focus on has some really charming chemistry with one another and share some really tender and nice moments that really help to elevate the otherwise disjointed plot into a nice bundle of sweet moments. I can’t list off all of these characters and their moments as that would take too long, but I will say I loved Miyabi’s moment of meeting her deceased mom again as well as the hilarious antics around Haruka and how she just turns the whole situation into a perverted sports event for one chapter. I also like the Shinovi Paralogue segments in the game, where you play small side missions exclusive to each character giving them little disconnected stories. These are really charming, have some hilarious plotlines and are just nice ways to spend some extra time with your favourite characters.

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For as much as I don’t really like Yagyu, she’s a lot of fun in this game.

Gameplay


This gameplay is Deep Crimson taken to the next level, well…in terms of combat that is…but we’ll get more into what I mean by that in a moment. This game is a full blown Dynasty Warriors style game now, dozens upon dozens of enemies against you, and they crumble like paper underneath your explosive might. You rack up large combos, slaughter dozens at a time and before long you’re at the top of your game and demolishing the competition. The one one one fights are at times a bit slow and hard to maneuver since both you and the boss are travelling at lightspeed,, but they circumvent this at times with extra enemies, allowing for a grouped attack which makes it an easier fight to control. This is some really satisfying, albeit cluttered and busy, combat that takes the enemy count and just amps it up to 11. The combat is now even more streamlined when incorporating the Ninja Arts, with the elaborate animations basically removed now, but it’s for the best as it makes for smoother gameplay. Extra gameplay like the dressing room and the now infamous Intimacy Mode (just wait until Burst Re;Newel to figure out why) is a neat and fun way to interact with the characters, plus the Diorama mode lets you pose and position the girls to make some nice personal snapshots that you can really get creative with.  The level designs are pretty varied and spaced out now, and they are for the most part very well designed and have great flow to them. The game also introduces these little shrines that pop up in the levels that you destroy for extra points as well as unlockable items like clothing and the paralogue stories I talked about earlier. These help add some level of reward to the game, but then they also play a part in the games biggest flaw. These levels can be WAY too big and way too ‘clever’ in their design. While some shrines are pretty simple to find and fairly straight forward, some require you to find small hidden areas in otherwise large spaces and to make your way back, which can be hard in maps like the City since it’s hard to navigate. These shrines also consume time when searching for them actively going against the times factor of the levels and sometimes you can actually be stuck in a certain segment of the level because they layout is clearly not designed for widespread exploration and climbing. Plus, this games AI is just dumb as bricks at times. They will pursue you and try to go through walls, just stop moving and generally hinder level progression since you can’t progress onto the next area unless all foes are defeated, which can also add on to the time. So other than those two problems, this gameplay is perfectly serviceable and makes for some really explosive and exhilarating combat and has a great flow to it mostly.

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See all these enemies around her? Yeah you cleave through them like a knife through butter.

Presentation


This is a good looking game, although it sets the precedence for a lot of the problems that I feel have plagued the series from this point onward. Before we get to those though let’s talk about what I like. The models are all on point, everyone looks pretty good, the jiggle physics are at their best yet (yes this is an important factor…I think) and the game’s general colour pallet is pleasing and helps sell the generally light hearted and jovial tone the game has. The anime cutscenes and in game CG images are also very well done and look great, certainly better looking than Shinovi Master that would come 2 years later, but I digress. Te costumes and accessories look good too, but this brings me to a problem that this raises. From this point on, every single Senran Kagura game, at least the ones I’ve played, have reused the models, animations, clothing and accessories from this game with either minimal additions or changes or none at all. This ties in to the general fear I have for the franchise, that being that it’s becoming lazily designed and is just he team reusing assets, which isn’t necessarily bad itself, but doing it in the most unceremonious way possible. But that little gripe aside, this is a good looking game, it’s visually pleasing (in more ways than one), has a really nice and upbeat soundtrack, some good voice acting work and is just a nice game to look at.

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Don’t worry Asuka you still look great!

Grades


  • Story: 3/5 – It’s not exactly a good plot, taking a backseat to the characters and their little side plots rather than being at the forefront for the most part. But the story is still enjoyable and in fact aids the next category by allowing these characters to flourish unfettered by a gripping plot.
  • Characters: 5/5 – To make up for what is otherwise a pretty basic and unimpactful story, in my opinion, this game makes up for it with a wonderfully managed cast of characters. Each mini story these girls are involved in are so charming and fun, making for a fantastic collection of moments that really help elevate the experience and makes for an easy going and fun tone.
  • Gameplay: 3/5 – This is a mixed bag. On one hand we have gameplay tats fast paced, controls well, is satisfying to play and is streamlined to the best it’s been yet. On the other hand we have gameplay stifled by over designed levels, over-reliance on exploration in a game not focused on it, and generally poor AI. It’s fun, just be on the lookout for a few problems here and there.
  • Presentation: 4/5 – This is a good looking game, nice visuals, a pleasing colour scheme, great music and some really pleasant animations to accompany it all. It’s an all round visually pleasing game and becomes the standard for future games, for better or worse.
  • Enjoyability: 5/5 – Despite the flaws in gameplay, nonsensical plot and a jumble of characters, this game makes up for it by being just plain fun. The good parts of the gameplay are really good, the story takes a backseat to help compliment the great characters, who themselves really work well with one another to make a wonderful cast.

Final Grade: 3.5/5


I like this game a lot, but it is not without its flaws. It does suffer from some level design choices and I would have liked a tad bit more focus on the main plot, but it can’t be helped and honestly it makes up for it with some really fun moments. I do recommend this game definitely, it’s got some really great segments and really makes for a bit of silly mindless dynasty warriors style fun that helps continue this beloved franchise.

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Are you noticing a trend with these final images? If yes…c’mon cut me some slack.

Day 3 has come and gone, we’re almost at the halfway point folks. It’s been really fun rediscovering these games and being able to talk about them with you all. Honestly this is really reinvigorating my passion for blogging more and more, I kinda want to keep up this schedule the best I can. Well now we wait for day 4, and the bizarre spin-off / Estival Versus sequel Peach Beach Splash, but that comes in a few days.

Thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed it. If you did please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Till next time.

3 thoughts on “Senran Celebration Day 3 – Senran Kagura Estival Versus (2016) Video Game Review

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