Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni PC Preview
Quarantine zone. Viruses. Battles. School-life! Welcome to Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni - a 3rd-person action brawler that originally came to the PlayStation Vita last year. It’s coming to Steam on June 20th!
I know what you’re thinking. You can be honest with me. Indeed, Bhikkhuni wears its heart on its sleeves with a lavish amount of fanservice. It nonchalantly references the rich bosoms of its all-female cast constantly; there are even a number of gameplay mechanics that revolve around them. You can freely dress these ladies up with different outfits, accessories, hairstyles, and yes, even their underwear.
Fans of the Senran Kagura series know what to expect in this field. After all, this game was developed by the same team. In fact, the PC port of Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni now carries the newly established Honey Parade Games studio logo built by series producer Kenichiro Takaki.
Despite its heavy fanservice elements, I never found them too bothersome. In fact, I’m surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni’s PC version.
Bhikkhuni opens up with a ridiculous plot explanation to contextualize why this game is as insane as it lets on. The girls in the world of Valkyrie Drive have it rough; a virus that only affects young female adults is causing them to transform into highly lethal weapons. After determining that no amount of Tylenol or Advil would make it go away, the world government secretly constructs a few quarantine islands for the infected.
It just so happens that the main characters, sisters Rinka and Ranka Kagurazaka, have this virus and make their way to one of these areas - the island of Bhikkhuni. Fortunately this zone’s school has found a way to control the virus; one that it’s coy to publicize… have their beauties engage in violent combat.
Sure it’s an elaborate excuse to isolate these young girls to do battle, but it works for me. I’m only a few story chapters in and I’m having fun with the light-hearted banter among the cast. There are definitely some more serious developments that I appreciated too. These include understandable aspects of homesickness and misunderstood rejection; the story isn’t all fun and games which inadvertently makes me more interested in it.
Above all, the strongest part of Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni lies in its extensive combat system. Though the roster only consists of 7 playable characters, each of them all have different weapons and attack styles. Ranka likes to get up close as her fists do the talking, while the soft-spoken Mana opts for a more ranged approach with her trusty bow and arrow.
Skirmishes shine in Bhikkhuni thanks to its proactive, aggressive flow. You’re rewarded for effectively using Phantom techniques to press the offensive. Phantom Dashing rapidly closes the gap between you and your foes. Launch them into the air, pursue them with Phantom Dashing, and a host of Phantom techniques (Strikes, Dances, and Falls) are available at your disposal. Familiar combat mechanisms from other action games, such as instant dodging and recovering from hits, are also in Bhikkhuni.
Plus, your character technically doesn’t fight alone in Bhikkhuni. The controllable character is a Liberator and her partner, an Extar, is your weapon when you activate your Drive. This is interchangeable throughout the cast; Rinka can be a Liberator in one mission and an Extar in the next. This virus is conveniently flexible.
You see, effectively pulling off the previously mentioned techniques raises your Liberator’s Synchro Rate with her Extar. Getting a certain amount will let you activate Drive but if you’ve leveled up your Extar enough, it’ll gain access to more powerful Drive abilities and with it, more risque transformation animation sequences.
Those who’ve played the Senran Kagura Shinovi and Estival Versus games will be familiar with the pace of Bhikkhuni’s combat; I much preferred the more involved systems in Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni though. I also loved the option of being able to scoot the camera back more and a bit above my character to make it a borderline isometric view. It helped me gain a better sense of my surroundings.
With that said, how does the PC version of Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni perform? Quite admirably.
I’ve been running it on 1080p at a steady, consistent 60fps. Though I haven’t played the Vita version myself, I heard that Bhikkhuni runs at a lower framerate on it and often suffered frame drops. This PC version ran smoothly and the developers have mentioned that it does include native support for higher resolutions. I don’t have a setup that supports 4K yet, so I can’t comment on that. If you’re curious about what its PC config options look like, you can check it out at the gallery below.
Visually, Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni on PC is naturally cleaner, more polished, and the anti-aliasing smoothes out any rough edges that its Vita counterpart may have had. Some low-res textures throughout the environments and accessories pop out, but nowhere near close to damaging my experience with it. Character models seem to have benefitted the most in its transition to PC.
Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni has been a great game to play so far. Its fast-paced, responsive battle system has me wishing that more action games adopted some of its ideas. Bhikkhuni knows that it’s a fanservice game and isn’t afraid to express it. Instead, it has fun with its premise and characters. Couple that with a solid gameplay foundation and you’re faced with some good fun coming in just a month to Steam.