Senran Kagura is back on PC, this time in a full 3D remake of the first game. The game brings with it the fun hack-and-slash combat the series is known for plus a bunch of other cool extras. However, it also suffers from some issues that are quite common for the genre.
Fun and satisfying combat. Being a hack-and-slash game, the most important element here is the combat. Fortunately, Burst Re:Newal not only provides some incredibly fun combat, but also makes it more than just a two-button spamfest. To go along with the light and heavy attacks signature to the genre, the combat also makes use of parries, shinobi transformations, ninja arts, burst attacks, and even a cool air combo system. The air combo system in particular was very fun to play around with, and by play around with I mean trying to infinitely juggle enemies in the air, which is difficult to do so, but feels very satisfying when pulled off.
On top of that, the game also provides a couple of options in order to customize the combat’s difficulty. Each level can be played on either 1-star, 2-star, or 3-star level difficulty, making enemies tougher as the stars go up. That’s pretty normal for the genre, but what really sets this game apart is the inclusion of a frantic mode. At the beginning of each level, the player has the option of entering this mode, stripping their character of all of their clothing, but vastly increasing their attack power. As the character lacks clothing, hits do a lot more damage, with some moves almost one-shotting later in the game. As such, it makes the combat much more intense, putting even more emphasis on the block and parry mechanics. I found this mode to be much more fun than the regular gameplay, so I actually ended up playing through most of the game without any clothing.
Excellent customization. Senran Kagura is not only known for its combat, but also for its in-depth customization systems, something perfectly highlighted here in Burst Re:Newal. The game pretty much has everything covered in the customization department, with numerous outfits, accessories, hairstyles, etc. all available for purchase using the in-game currency. Outfits can be saved as favorites and can even be changed depending on if the character is in shinobi mode or not. The cutscenes even carry over these changes, it’s not just limited to gameplay. As such, I spent quite a bit of time playing around with the customization, giving some characters cat ears, angel wings, and even a couple goatees.
Outside of the customization, there are a couple other modes to take advantage of in the dressing room. One of which is the diorama mode, which basically just lets the player pose different characters and such to create different scenes. The other mode is a bit more on the questionable side, its called intimacy mode. This mode was questionable enough that Sony forced XSEED to remove it from the game for the PlayStation 4 version, effectively censoring the release. Fortunately, the PC version retains this mode, and although it doesn’t really add much to the game, it’s at least there for those that want it.
Nice PC port. XSEED has once again shown that they can do a great PC port, one without any crashes, freezing, frame drops, etc.. I played through the entire game and only ran into a couple issues (that being a small stutter during transformation cutscenes and some really fast-scrolling text during some story segments). As for controls, you can use keyboard, mouse, gamepad, or any combination of those. The default keyboard and mouse controls are a bit iffy, but with a little bit of tweaking, they can definitely do the job. Granted, I ended up playing through most of the game with an Xbox One controller, but it was nice to know that I at least had the option. And speaking of controllers, the game also changes up the button prompts depending on what control scheme is being used. I tested both an Xbox One and PS4 controller and the prompts automatically switched over between the two. It’s definitely a nice feature to have and goes to show the level of detail XSEED takes when doing a PC port.
Repetitive mission design. Although the combat here in Burst Re:Newal may be fun, it certainly does not help when the mission design is so repetitive. In fact, the entirety of the game’s missions are made up of either “defeat a single enemy” or “defeat a couple waves of lower-level enemies”, with some overlap between the two. As the story progresses, these missions only become more difficult through increased enemy damage and HP. Granted, this is a hack-and-slash game, and these are usually problems associated with the genre, but that does not excuse the issue. It’s a pretty lazy way to design levels and it only really works here because the fun combat overshadows the repetition. It would have been so much better had there been more variety to the game’s objectives.
Flat storyline. I wouldn’t say that Senran Kagura is known for its story, and for a very good reason. Most of the time, the series does not even attempt a serious story, instead focusing more on episodic comedy. However, Burst Re:Newal actually does attempt a serious story, but unfortunately it just falls flat. It just feels a lot like your everyday action-ecchi anime storyline that you’ve probably already seen several times already. The story simply does not make me care about these characters enough to warrant such a serious storyline. It really would have been much better off had it focused more on the lighthearted comedy seen in the earlier missions.
Wonky game camera. I may have praised the PC port, but unfortunately that port also brings along with it the game’s wonky camera. For the most part, the camera at least does its job, but if you ever go near the edge of a stage or get too close to a wall or other large object, the camera just freaks out and makes it hard to see what’s going on. It also does not help that the camera is constantly dropping the locked-on target, forcing the player to lock-on to that target again, usually several times per battle. These two issues combined provide for a rather annoying game camera.
Although the mission design may be repetitive, the underlying gameplay is satisfying enough to warrant a recommendation. On top of that, there’s also the customization mode to play around with, all of which runs smoothly on PC courtesy of XSEED. Even so, the game camera can be a bit annoying at times and the story is nothing to write home about, but the game is pretty fun despite these issues.
You can buy SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.