Welcome to day 6 of the Senran Celebration month. Last time we looked at the controversy ridden game Senran Kagura Burst Re;Newal, a game that felt like a severe step back with general gameplay and a lazy feel. So how does the franchise get back on track? Well you take the dressing room mechanic and make a game around that. Yep, today we take a look at the dating-sim spin off for PC and Nintendo Switch, Senran Kagura Reflections.
There isn’t one…there is no story. Okay that’s not entirely true, but there is very little story here. The very little plot is that you the player meet with Asuka in a classroom as she struggles to confess to you. Throughout the game you enter her dreams while she envisions scenarios with you, ranging from a little sister x onee chan fantasy to…idol x producer fantasy. I will say this, one thing this story has despite a lack of story, is a real sense of darling and charm. The little mini scenarios can be a little…odd but they are crafted in a way that makes them super sincere and sweet. The scenes with Asuka in the classroom are also really quaint and have a lot of heart, the lack of any other characters really allowed them to make the scenes with her really nice and well written. So…yeah that’s all I can say on the story, or rather lack thereof, but the element that carries this game is most certainly Asuka and her interactions. However, one thing I really have to say is I hate the ending. The ending basically tries to find a way Asuka can leave the player and continue in the Senran Kagura world without them, concocting a really cheap and lazy excuse for explaining the games events, and it’s such a sad way to end the game it feels like your efforts were ultimately devalued as a result.
Aside from the DLC characters, which I have yet to play with, this game has only one character, Asuka. Despite this, I really gotta say this is Asuka potentially at her best. She doesn’t have any other characters to have chemistry with other than you, and this allows us to see a more tender side to her that we’ve not really seen before. Her interactions with the player are really sweet and her fragility adds to the really personal connection you build up with her as the game goes on. I also like the fantasies and how they act as little delves into her mind, giving us little fun moments with her acting in various ways. Her confessions are also really sincere and heartwarming, barring the ending interaction that feels like one giant middle finger before kindly telling you to shove off and leaving you in the dust. So while her interactions are great and her voice acting is absolutely sublime, major kudos to Hitomi Harada her voice actress.
If you’ve played intimacy mode and used the dressing room in any of the previous Senran Kagura games, you’ve played Reflections. I really wish I was kidding, but no this games main gameplay is just the intimacy mode from the other games with the dressing room for customization. Ok there is more to it, but not much. The aim of the game is to obtain multiple endings of different colours to unlock the vastly underwhelming ending by massaging various parts of her body. This raises one problem, the fact that usually it’s one or two places with the corresponding colour so it turns into a button spam situation where you have to build up enough hearts to unlock the Reflexology minigame, with you barely moving the controls and just hitting the trigger buttons repeatedly. The reflexology minigames are basically different ways you massage her with various motion control based tools that basically serve as little ways to squeeze in some extra fanservice, something this game lives and dies by. Other than that the minigames can be done in a few seconds, as the motion controls are insanely linear. There’s also just plain old intimacy mode from the other games and other than that there’s literally nothing in terms of gameplay, it’s just a tad too basic to be of real merit, but for what it’s worth it’s borderline serviceable.
Now I really do have to give them credit here, this game has some really good presentation. The trimmed down content may be a downgrade in terms of substance, but it does allow for better focus on the visuals, and this game has some great visuals. The classroom scenes are accompanied by some really sweet and calming music, the model of Asuka holding your hands is really well made and looks great up close and the in game reflexology models also look good, being a lot smoother and more well designed. The up close Reflexology scenes are also well animated and once again, kudos to the voice work because this is some really nice voice over work, accompanied by some really sweet music making for a tone that matches the calming and happy tone of the game. Th costumes also look great and the game GUI and menu screens are well designed as well mimicking doodles in a textbook like you’d find in a classroom. They really did their best with this in terms of visuals and it shows.
- Story: 2/5 – There is no story here, it’s just you talking with Asuka and her having fantasies about you massaging her. I do like how the story is presented, but there’s no major plot and the ending is beyond a drag and really damages the final impact of the game itself.
- Characters: 5/5 – Asuka is so excellent she carries the character side of the game all by herself. Her interactions with you are quaint and sweet, she has a lot of real charm to her.
- Gameplay: 2/5 – This is just the changing room and intimacy mode turned into a full game. While ironic considering Burst Re;Newel had said intimacy mode removed for the PS4 release, but even with the additions of some gameplay quirks, this game is insanely basic and unless you really wanna spend a few hours mashing the trigger buttons and maybe getting a little virtual kiss there’s not much to talk about here.
- Presentation: 4/5 – This game looks very pretty and has a lot of great visuals in it. Good menu design, stellar model work, outstanding voice over work and a really soothing soundtrack, this game has some real charm to it thanks to the visuals.
- Enjoyability: 4/5 – Ok I know that I have ragged on this game a lot, bashing the gameplay and lack of story, but I can’t help but love this game. It’s so weird and silly that it has this weird alien charm to it. Plus I was always a fan of playing dress up with my Senran Kagura waifus so this game feels like it was made for me and other like minded folks.
Final Grade: 3/5
This game is fine. It won’t be winning awards but honestly it’s not exactly the worst thing ever. This game was created with the intention of being a fun little distraction type of game and honestly it’s a fin distraction. Aside from the ending, this is a fun game that really makes you feel warm and cosy. It’s fun, well designed and you can tell that despite lack of substance a lot of heart and soul was put into it and that it was lovingly crafted, and honestly that’s absolutely fine.
As day 6 comes to a close, so too do my reviews of the Senran Kagura video games. Yeah I decided to skip the 2019 Senran Kagura Peach Ball because it honestly doesn’t look like much, just a pinball game with some fanservice in it. Who knows, maybe after Christmas I’ll splash out and buy it. Up next is the final week of Senran Celebrations month, and the final two posts will be a little bit different, instead we’ll be going for Senran Kagura discussion posts, so look forward to those. Well until then, thank you for joining me for this celebration so far, we’re almost done.