Tits are life, ass is hometown. Those immortal words sprang from the creator of the Senran Kagura games Kenichiro Takaki back in 2012 and have rung true to this very day. If you’ve somehow never heard of the Senran Kagura series, it follows the story of an all-female cast of shinobi warriors who attend rival schools. In Senran Kagura: Estival Versus the Kagura’s are all summoned to a mysterious tropical island where they encounter deceased friends among some new faces.
Senran Kagura is the kind of game series that you’re either going to love or hate. With an all-female cast dressed in scantily clad getup and performing some lewd and over the top ninja moves, it’s the kind of game that I absolutely adore. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time offers a lore-rich plot line that you can choose to delve into or ignore completely.
Set after the events of Shinovi Versus and spanning a period of eight days, there are over 50 chapters to play through and tons of story to cover. Fortunately for newcomers, it isn’t a requirement to have played the other games in the series, although some conversations may leave you lost. As I mentioned earlier, the girls are all mysteriously transported to a world that looks like a summer getaway. The girls find out that they’ve been summoned here to partake in a tournament called the Kagura Millennium Festival.Missions follow a chapter format and are comprised of story elements told in-engine and in a visual novel fashion. The in-engine stuff gives some great personality to the characters as they’re fully animated and expressive with each conversation. On the other hand, the visual novel segments offer more in-depth exposition for individual characters. If you’re more of a go-get-em style player, there’s the option to completely skip the story segments and jump straight into the action.
Hearing the term musou might be a turn-off for people who’ve only played Dynasty Warriors in the past, but suffice to say Senran Kagura’s blend of musuo action is quite addictive. With an incredible roster of 34 characters (including the DLC unlocks), each shinobi plays differently and the fast-paced combat makes it feel closer to an action game than a musou. Each character plays differently for the most part and finding out which character you vibe with is part of the fun, I personally mained my girl Asuka, even though Homura was a much more action heavy character to play as.
Shinovi Versus looked pretty good when it came out on PC, but Estival Versus pushes the engine even further by providing one of the highest quality PC ports XSEED has ever done. Running at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second at the highest settings, nets you a really enthralling visual punch. I didn’t experience any framerate dips or visual oddities during my time with the game. Shinovi Versus is honestly one of the best looking Japanese games available on Steam.Outside of the story mode there’s plenty of side content to dip into. If you’re into lewd things which you probably are if you’re this far into this review, there’s a dressing room mode where you can modify the outfits of each girl. I’m talking about everything here, you can change the standard outfit as well as the burst mode outfit, what bikini she’ll be wearing and yes, even her underwear. You can also add accessories to amplify their looks which is a nice touch.
To unlock new outfits and accessories you can enter the shop, which lets you buy apparel or try your luck with the lottery machine. I spent so much time trying to win good outfits here, but wound up losing all of my money. Seems like my luck in-game is as good as it is outside of the game. There are over 100 accessories to collect and as far as I’ve seen each one will work with any character.
There is an online component to Senran Kagura: Estival Versus that allows you to fight opponents online, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a match. The few matches I was able to get into were password protected, and I haven’t been able to see how the netcode and combat works within these modes. If you were hoping for an active online community, I don’t think that’s something you’ll find in Estival Versus.
Musically the game features poppy and bubbly music that fits the summer setting you’ll be playing in. Action-centric ballads have more of a melodic hard rock mix to them and help you get in the zone when you’re chaining combos. I think the best track in the game, and one that I’ve already added to my personal playlist is The Beach of Passion, it really encapsulates that summer setting with some nice oriental instrumentals added in.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is definitely an improvement from the last entry, in terms of streamlining the way you play as characters and visually. It looks absolutely gorgeous at the highest settings and running at a locked 60 frames per second. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously for the most part, but they aren’t afraid to tackle some darker tones like death and coping with it.
In terms of value, I think Estival Versus is definitely worth the asking price of $39.99, assuming you’re into Japanese games and don’t mind a ton of fanservice. If you’re on the fence about the combat due to it being a musou, I can’t stress how much better the gameplay is compared to your typical Dynasty Warriors or other Koei musou, but I’d say maybe wait for the price to drop during an upcoming sale. Overall I’m very happy with the work XSEED did to bring this game as well as the series as a whole to Steam and hope that Peach Beach Splash can come out on PC much sooner than previous releases.