Senran Kagura Reflexions Review: Senran-Lite
Let's not pretend the Senran Kagura games are high art: you play the games for the boobs. I also play the games for the boobs. You know what you're getting into when you buy a Senran Kagura game, is what I'm saying.
The big draw to this series is the fanservice -- oppai here, oppai there, oppai everywhere! Somehow Senrans have found their way to several platforms over the past few years, from PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS to PC and Nintendo Switch.
Senran Kagura Reflexions is not a game for a new wave of players, but it's more a toybox for already-acclimated fans who want to spend time with their favorite girls. Out of its digital box, Reflexions allows you to practice massage and spend time with series headliner Asuka.
Yeah, the above paragraph is kind of weird. This is a fanservice game, which can mean a few things within the anime community. Sometimes it means simply something for fans of a series to enjoy, and other times it means it's explicitly erotic without showing sex (or outright nudity; this definition is also called "ecchi").
In the case of Reflexions, "fanservice" retains both its definitions. It's pretty much only for fans of certain girls, and it's pretty much all ecchi content. This is not a game you buy for the gameplay.
Your time in Senran Kagura Reflexions is spent massaging Asuka in three phases. In the first, you massage her hands. In the second, you massage her body. In the third, you use one of a handful of tools for a deeper massage. Between each phase, she talks to you about the dream scenario you're in or her training a la' a visual novel.
There's not much to it. Her interactions with you adjust a bit between each phase based on how you just finished massaging her. In the Standard Reflexology ~Body~ phase, this is most easily directly affected as each action you perform can give one one of five feelings that will carry over into the next phase. It is very simple and easy to understand once you get to it.
When you finish the game -- which takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes -- you unlock new accessories to dress Asuka in and pose or freely massage. Dressing the girls up and posing them is a series past-time this entry couldn't afford to miss out on.
If this all sounds bad, it's time to check out from this review. If it sounds decent, it's time to get to the real meat of it.
Ecchi, at your service
The things I was excited for in Senran Kagura Reflexions were the supposedly unique controller vibrations the Nintendo Switch Joy Cons were supposed to have with this game. You're supposed to feel the jiggles. That's very tempting. Regrettably, I would not say I "felt the jiggles".
There's a lot of rumble in the jungle but don't let that push you into a buy if think it's going to feel like your holding your favorite Senran's hand. It's not going to. I'm sorry.
The last of the three phases is the most ecchi of them by a few miles.
The first one focuses on her hands, which (for me) is a big "whatever." The second is squeezing, caressing, or spraying water on her to affect her mood; this phase takes the longest, but is another "whatever." This one is best in Mini-Reflexology mode where she wears your chosen outfits.
The third is the one where it gets real weird. You can use one of a handful of massage tools -- from your hands to a brush or even an ultimate massager.
This is easily the most ecchi of the phases, but it's also the only one that actually has active gameplay. The motion controls are best for this phase but are significantly more cumbersome than just pressing the buttons. The motion controls are for dedicated fans only! At least, they're the only ones I can imagine using them the whole way through.
Among the 3D ecchi are a few visual novel-style CGs. These are few and far between, but I find them more satisfying than petting Asuka's arm with a brush.
Senran Kagura Reflexions is ultimately not much more than a toybox for fans of the series who want to get more up close and personal with a handful of Senrans. It's nothing more and it's nothing less -- the pool of girls and overall reflexology activities you can participate in are both very shallow.
As mentioned earlier, Reflexions only comes with Asuka to start. That's fair considering the $9.99 price tag, but there is no way to get out of buying Asuka (my second-least favorite girl).
Further characters to be added as DLC are Yumi, Murasaki, Ryouna, and Yomi. Each girl costs an additional $9.99 to practice reflexology with, with Yumi being the first available DLC today. Yomi, Murasaki, and Ryouna will be released in the coming weeks.
I can appreciate a good ecchi game but the lack of character and gameplay variety in Reflexions sticks out like a sore thumb to anyone not a massive fan of the five girls, and additional characters being $9.99 each only makes that sting a little more.
This is a discount game in price and content, and is by no means the high point of the SK series. If you want an ecchi game on console, go with a different Senran Kagura game like Estival Versus or Peach Beach Splash. There's even SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy out now, and that's a fanservice fighter.
If you're a superfan of one of the five girls mentioned, you'll probably want to pick Senran Kagura Reflexions up just to interact with them in a more direct manner than the series usually has available. I'll no doubt be buying Ryouna on release day, but only because she is of my particular tastes; otherwise this is an entirely forgettable entry to a series that is best known for it's big boobs and nutty scenarios. It's got the honkers, but they're not varied enough that i would recommend a purchase unless you really really want to get up close and personal with Asuka's thighs.
(Disclaimer: Writer was granted a copy of the game from the publisher for review purposes.)