The Senran Kagura series has been growing steadily due to the fact that the games have generally been well done and they make a joke of the fanservice. So, it comes as no surprise that Marvelous Inc. and XSEED Games went with a light dating simulator for the Switch. While Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash fell short due to a limited player base for a multiplayer outing, the rest of the games have done well to provide B level hack and slash gameplay in the gaming world.
However, Reflexions is another misstep for the series. Players only interact with Asuka. No Miyabi, Rin, Hikage, Yumi, Katsuragi, Hanabi, or any of your other favorite girls, though there has been some discussion of DLC girls in the near future. For a game that relies so much on the characters, only including Asuka is the first of many mistakes for this title.
Before getting too deep, let me make my opinions on fanservice brief and clear. There is nothing wrong with fanservice. You either are okay with it or you aren’t, but your opinion should not impact others. Look at the current debate about Dead or Alive 6. It seems the developers may be cutting out much of the fanservice that the game is known for because they want to be taken more seriously.
I will write a longer article about this at a later date but as I see it, and I think this is a pretty safe thing to say, if you don’t like fanservice in games, don’t buy them. To start a “revolution” against a company for deciding that is the way they want to go is to force your opinions on others. Speak with your wallet. Right now, porn sites see nonstop traffic. So, people are okay with nudity, and in video games, that is rare. At most, we get some jiggle. Is it fair that it is one-sided and only female characters are used in this way for the most part? Probably not, but that is a discussion for a later date. Either way, fanservice will not impact review scores on games that embrace them, like Senran Kagura.
So, with that out of the way, this game is pure softcore petting at best. The large, jiggly breasts are still in the game and water guns are flowing free, but it doesn’t affect the game at all, it simply is part of it. In the game, you simply are a pair of hands and a ghost body. You are actually a real guy, but you never see more than some poorly animated hands. Your job is to help Asuka understand her new “feelings” by touching her hands to open dream sequences.
These dream sequences have nothing to do with Senran Kagura canon. For the most part, they are just reasons for you to grope Asuka for… reasons. For example, one dream sequence takes place just after Asuka gets hit with a Medusa-like attack in which you must massage her to keep her from becoming petrified. You don’t see this stuff happen, you just show up in time to do the massage. Another has her talking to you like you are her brother.
The dialogue is written well enough, but it is a struggle to call anything in the title a game. You start by using finicky motion controls with the joy-con, or the far superior controller mode, and simply smack around or touch Asuka on different parts of her body. Certain areas get more of a positive reaction than others, but if you want to grope her breasts the whole time, you can. They do limit you from doing anything between the thighs, but everything else is wide open for you to slap around. The better you do in this section… the better things go in the long run as you will get a different ending, though the endings are as much of a let down as the rest of the game.
After the initial groping, you go into a special mini-game where Asuka will put herself in a rather uncomfortable position for your pleasure and you either slap her thigh in a certain rhythm or use a number of other items, such as a roller or a brush, to help her… discover her feelings? Ultimately, I’m not sure what all the reflexology has to do with the game other than let you spend a few bucks for a rather poor representation of what Senran Kagura can bring to the table.
There are unlockables that allow you to dress Asuka up as you see fit, but the changes are pretty tame. In a game like this, the carrot on the stick is generally something just short of full porn, but the best you ever get is something that you would see on late night television. The game sells itself as a game with a specific audience and purpose in mind but it never reaches those levels. It is simply a couple of mini-games with a tacked on story that makes almost no sense at all. Hopefully Marvelous and XSEED learn from the last few Senran Kagura mistakes and get things back on track.
A Nintendo Switch review copy of Senran Kagura Reflexions was provided by XSEED Games for the purpose of this review.