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Review

Review: Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal

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With how the series has been over the past few years, it can be hard to remem­ber how much tamer the ori­gi­nal Sen­ran Kagu­ra was. Sure the­re was fan­ser­vice, but it at least attemp­ted to tell a more serious sto­ry. Sen­ran Kagu­ra Burst Re:Newal sets out to com­bi­ne the nar­ra­ti­ve of the first 3DS game with the updated game­play of later releases, but it only ends up sho­wing us how litt­le the series has evol­ved.

As you may expect from a Sen­ran Kagu­ra game, near­ly every major cha­rac­ter is a high school girl that is trai­ning to beco­me Shi­no­bi. The­re are two play­a­ble sto­ries, each focu­sing on a dif­fe­rent school of Shi­no­bi: The good Han­zō Aca­de­my which was the only one avail­ab­le in the ori­gi­nal game, and the evil Hebi­jo Clan­des­ti­ne Girls’ Aca­de­my that was made play­a­ble in the Burst ver­si­on of Sen­ran Kagu­ra. The majo­ri­ty of the sto­ry is told via long visu­al novel-style seg­ments, with only the occa­sio­nal in-engi­ne cuts­ce­ne used for cer­tain important sce­nes. Com­pa­red to later games in the series Sen­ran Kagu­ra Burst Re:Newal’s sto­ry is some­what serious, but rare­ly does it ever suc­ceed at being inte­res­ting. This is main­ly thanks to the less bla­tant but still pre­sent fan­ser­vice that ruins any attempt at serious wri­ting, even if the game does occa­sio­nal­ly come clo­se to having some inte­res­ting moments.

One area that the Sen­ran Kagu­ra series has never got right is the balan­ce bet­ween game­play and sto­ry, and this is still the case in Burst Re:Newal. It feels like you’ll be watching sto­ry sce­nes most of the time, with only the occa­sio­nal few minu­tes of figh­t­ing in-bet­ween. It’s espe­ci­al­ly bad ear­ly on, whe­re batt­les are over befo­re anything real­ly hap­pens and yet ano­t­her long cuts­ce­ne takes place. The 3DS release had this pro­blem too, but even that ver­si­on had more game­play com­pa­red to what’s avail­ab­le here.

The actu­al batt­les have seen very litt­le chan­ges from Esti­val Ver­sus, and if it wasn’t for a few minor visu­al chan­ges it would be hard to tell the two games apart. Com­bat still reli­es on the usu­al but­ton mashing com­bos that can be chai­ned into laun­chers which send enemies into the air. Most cha­rac­ters have their usu­al trans­for­ma­ti­ons and spe­cial attacks, though a coup­le recei­ved some new moves. Haru­ka, ins­tead of figh­t­ing with melee attacks like in Burst, just uses her Esti­val Ver­sus move­set which comes across as lazy. The retur­ning burst mecha­nic does litt­le to help how repe­ti­ti­ve the game is, as all it real­ly does is make your attacks stron­ger and fas­ter. Fur­ther­mo­re, you’ll often strugg­le to see what’s even going on thanks to the came­ra. It has a habit of get­ting stuck on objec­ts in the level and if you’re figh­t­ing near a wall it’s near impos­si­ble to see anything. Came­ra issu­es are not­hing new to the series, but this is the worst it’s ever been in the series.

Being a remake of the very first Sen­ran Kagu­ra game, the­re is also a lack of con­tent com­pa­red to other recent games in the series. The base cast of cha­rac­ters is very small, and they don’t have an even amount of sta­ges and sto­ry sce­nes. Also, if you igno­re the leng­thy cuts­ce­nes there’s only around an hour or two of game­play per sto­ry. Dif­fi­cul­ty levels and a point­less level­ling sys­tem attempt to stretch out play­ti­me by making you repeat sta­ges mul­ti­ple times, but the­re real­ly isn’t enough incen­ti­ve to keep play­ing after the sto­ry is over. Even mul­ti­play­er is absent from this release, mea­ning that you can’t grind up levels while play­ing with fri­ends.

At least the visu­als have been impro­ved, even if it’s not that gre­at of an upgrade. Cha­rac­ter models are a litt­le more detail­ed and expres­si­ve, even if they still have the ridi­cu­lous jigg­le phy­sics. Attacks also look more inte­res­ting, though the amount of effec­ts on screen will often cau­se the game’s frame­ra­te to tank on a base PS4. Are­as have also recei­ved some impro­ved tex­tures, though they still look qui­te bland over­all. It doesn’t help that the majo­ri­ty of sta­ges are just reu­sed yet again from Shi­no­vi Ver­sus, making game­play feel even more repe­ti­ti­ve.

Conclusion

For all intents and pur­po­ses, this is yet ano­t­her by the num­bers Sen­ran Kagu­ra release. The­re are minor impro­ve­ments here and the­re, but not enough has been done to dif­fe­ren­tia­te it from pre­vious ent­ries. Near­ly ever­ything is reu­sed and the­re is not enough new con­tent here to keep Burst Re:Newal from fee­ling sta­le after a few hours. This may be worth it if you want a simp­le hack and slash game with some fan­ser­vice thrown in, but even then the­re are far bet­ter games you could choo­se.

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