Thursday, September 13

Review: Senran Kagura Reflexions [Nintendo Switch eShop]


If there were ever a title that fit squarely in the realm of “knowing your audience”, or at least reaching out to an audience in earnest, it would seem to be Senran Kagura. While I’ve never played one of the games the series has certainly attained a level of infamy for pushing the limits of what would still be considered a game and focusing heavily on ogling virtual girls. If that’s what you’re looking for, to push the limits of appropriateness while not having too much actual gameplay, Relexions should satisfy but even as uncomfortable as the game gets in what it implies understand that oddly there’s still no nudity either, making it a curious creation.


Focusing on what Reflexions does well we’ll start with the game’s top-heavy female focus, Asuka. As a character she’s somewhat disturbingly malleable in what’s she’s got going on in her head, pivoting from shy to not-so-innocent with ease, and certainly impressive in her level of jiggliness. That pairs well with the fact that Reflexions should probably win an award for the most disturbing uses of HD Rumble on the system. This is a game meant to be played with the joycon and whether you’re rubbing her hands, massaging her thigh, or, um, using a “massager” to stimulate her abdomen the rumble feature gets a workout and makes the game very tactile.


The problem is that beyond appreciating the touches like the use of rumble or the fact that Asuka’s generous chesticles squish together without clipping there’s not much here aside from the pervier stuff. Whether playing the part of a pop idol, a naughty teacher, your, uh, naughty little sister(?!?) and a few more she’ll indulge in a range of fantasies where you’ll be able to inspire her to different feelings that correspond to colors by being gentle versus more forceful or what part of her body you focus on. These will unlock parts of her heart and if you focus on a different color each time you work your way through you’ll eventually unlock her heart. Just the path to all of this is through the same very limited mini games each time.


Beyond the main Reflexology mode there’s also a Dressing Room and a Diorama Mode that will allow you to make use of the new costumes and accessories you’ll unlock as you explore different fantasy scenarios and attain pieces of Asuka’s heart. For the right crowd these may be appealing but there’s not much to them and in particular the Diorama mode was less functional than I’d assumed it would be, mostly just letting you dress Asuka up and pose her in different environments, though only in a paper cut-out kind of way. Since there’s already an item for DLC on the main menu I’m assuming that there’ll be more variety on all fronts available at some point so if you like what it has to offer there should be more content in that same vein on the way.


While it seems like the developers behind Senran Kagura Reflexions have met their goals for the experience they’ve delivered it’s hard as someone who isn’t already familiar with the series to take in. With only the most bare amount of actual gameplay it’s more of an odd virtual girlfriend simulator than anything else but even then there’s not much variety here. The hook to continued play really just ends up being a chance to unlock more costumes and accessories but that’s about it. If this sounds like your cup of tea, more power to you, but for anyone who isn’t already on board it’s probably not something you’ll want to just randomly pick up.


Score: 5

Pros:
  • The tactile feel that comes with the use of the HD Rumble feature is well implemented, sometimes disturbingly so
  • You’re encouraged to use different approaches in order to unlock Asuka’s heart, which then unlocks more content
  • If this is the kind of experience you’re looking for, it’s pretty unique on the Switch currently

Cons:
  • Very little gameplay to speak of and the mini games tied to you massaging Asuka aren’t terribly challenging or interesting to begin with
  • The Diorama Mode was more limited than I’d expected where it came to placing Asuka in the environment
  • As pervy as it is at the same time in some regards I’d wonder what’s holding it back from just embracing going further since it has an M rating anyway?