If you're an anime enthusiast, the mere mention of Jujutsu Kaisen likely evokes excitement. The manga series by Gege Akutami recently debuted as Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash on gaming devices. While anime-to-game transitions are common, this one falls flat. The game's reception has been overwhelmingly negative, leaving a sour taste in gamers' mouths.
Critics flooded platforms like Steam and Reddit with scathing reviews, decrying the game's lackluster content and unjustifiably high price tag. I agree with their sentiments. It seems this game is indeed cursed. This disappointment marks a significant stumble for Byking and Gemdrops, the developers, and Bandai Namco, the seasoned publisher. Despite their track record of successful launches, this one misses the mark entirely.
From gameplay mechanics to storyline execution, every aspect of Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash reeks of amateurish design. The lack of crossplay across different consoles only exacerbates the frustration. However, amidst this sea of disappointment, there may still be a glimmer of hope for this anime-inspired game. But I won't spill the beans just yet. Let's unravel the nuts and bolts behind the disappointment and why you should steer clear of this title. Here is our Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash review.
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash throws you into an intricate storyline, like diving into any other anime-inspired adventure. The game draws its narrative from the anime's first season and the Jujutsu Kaisen movie narrative, meaning seasoned fans will find themselves treading familiar ground. But for newcomers, allow me to shed some light:
At its core, the tale centers around Yuji Tadori, a high schooler balancing the rigors of academia with the title of a Jujutsu Sorcerer. The sorcerers are charged with exorcizing the world of curses and malevolent entities rising from unchecked human emotions—a veritable manifestation of emotional turmoil. It's like witnessing a toddler's tantrum, except instead of uncontrollable wails, these emotional upheavals birth tangible monstrosities.
Yuji's fate takes a grim turn when he becomes host to one of the most potent curses, Sukuna. He embarks on a perilous quest to sever this unholy bond and consume twenty of Sukuna's Rotten Finger talismans.
The storyline is an actual piece of art, but the game does a fair job of telling it for newbies. You'll have difficulty connecting the pieces unless you watch the anime series. But not all hope is lost. You can quickly search the backstory online to bridge the gap. This helps, considering the game is full of dialogue and a copy-paste of the scenes and stills from the manga series. Aside from a few animation scenes, the storyline is reduced to screenshots of the comics.
Ideally, here lies the crux of the issue. Aside from a few animation scenes, the storyline is reduced to screenshots of the comics, missing out on the essence of the series' storyline. I get the idea of trying to recreate a MyHero One narrative, but its presentation falls short.
A Crashed Gameplay
With its innovative gameplay mechanics, Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash sets itself apart from the anime gaming crowd. Unlike traditional 1v1 setups, it opts for exhilarating 2v2 battles that breathe new life into the genre. These clashes unfold on expansive 3D battlegrounds, teeming with destructible elements and different stories.
Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed J-Stars Victory VS, the game adopts a familiar control scheme, allowing fluid movement, jumping, and dashing. However, where it truly shines is in its implementation of combo attacks. While these strikes may not inflict direct damage, they serve as a precursor to unleashing the game's signature feature: curse power energy.
In a nod to the manga's lore, attacking curses requires you to fill your cursed meter, which then lets you unleash cursed power energy. This is the only way you can deal damage. Essentially, as the common notion goes, you can only fight fire with fire. But not all attacks will fill up this meter; there are only three attacks: the combo and two extraction techniques. However, if your curse meter is full and you unleash a combo attack, the game forces you to use your curse energy.
On paper, the technique sounds cool. It's a unique strategy, but it's not free of shortfalls. It can get utterly frustrating, especially after hitting your opponent multiple times, and your meter fills up slowly. Your futile attempts at raking up enough curse power energy may soon end after your opponent lands a blow that takes up half of your health. While I appreciate the ingenious thought put into this mechanic, more time could have been spent refining it, ensuring it works without causing frustration to the player.
A Not-So Ensemble of Excellence
The game boasts a robust roster of 16 playable characters, straight from the pages of the manga series. Whether you're unleashing the power of Ryomen Sukuna, mastering the mystic arts with Megumi Fushiguro, or channeling the unstoppable force of Gojo Satoru, each character brings their own unique flair to the battlefield.
Engaging in battle calls for assembling a team of two and mastering the curses' techniques. With many character combinations at your fingertips, you can experiment and uncover the perfect power dynamics for your play style. While each character boasts a distinct control scheme, their abilities and skill sets ensure a diverse and engaging gameplay experience. Additionally, certain characters possess special unlockable moves known as Supreme Arts, adding depth to the action.
However, despite the wealth of moves at your disposal, the combat can feel sluggish and uninspired, giving the game's combat a bog-standard outlook. Playing against AI does more harm than good, often devolving into a tedious turn-based affair. You're better off playing the 2v2 fights.
The vast area counts for something, considering other anime games come with a smaller space. But sadly, this grand scale comes at a cost. Instead of amping the gameplay, it floods it with hiccups. Players easily find themselves dashing across the fields to the arena's borders. In most cases, you end up falling out of the camera's angles, and getting back is another hassle. Or you may end up behind an environmental prop where the transparency is inadequate to let you see what's happening.
Again, this highlights the half-baked nature of the game, where the concept is excellent but its execution needs to be improved.
Amidst its flaws, Bandai Namco's latest offering has some silver linings. I like the idea of battles being timed, stepping away from traditional round-based combat. It delivers a sense of urgency when delivering your strategy. With the clock ticking, strategic planning becomes paramount, ensuring players must think fast and adapt on the fly to secure victory.
Also, every team gets a certain number of lives. A winner emerges after a team replenishes the other's lives or ends up with more lives than their adversary.
Beyond the gameplay, the diverse array of arenas provides a visually stunning backdrop for the action. You get different destructible environments to unleash coupled attacks in and watch the elements crumble.
Yet, the crowning jewel of Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash lies in its visuals. Character models are exquisitely rendered, breathing life into beloved manga icons with stunning shading effects. Paired with the authentic voice cast from the manga series, the experience is nothing short of immersive, seamlessly blending the thrill of combat with the nostalgic charm of flipping through the pages of a comic book.
Besides the shortfalls mentioned, one glaring hiccup in the game's presentation is its mismatched soundtrack. Rather than leveraging the iconic music from the series, the developers opt for what sounds like generic “royalty-free” tracks that fail to harmonize with the on-screen action. Instead of enhancing the immersive experience, this musical misstep leaves players feeling disengaged and uninspired, detracting from the game's overall enjoyment.
Despite its lofty aspirations, Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash ultimately falters in its execution, failing to capture the vibrant essence of the beloved manga series. While the manga series is full of excitement and life, the game doesn't capture its true spirit and barely scratches the surface. The game's technical hiccups detract from the game's potential, underscoring a disconnect between ambition and delivery. Now, underscoring this with a price tag is blatantly wrong. The game is certainly not worth the $59.99 price tag. The price feels unjustified, especially considering the game's lackluster narrative depth and reliance on recycled content from the anime series.
For die-hard fans, there are certain elements you can overlook, especially if you don't mind a rehashed narrative. However, if this is your first deep dive into the franchise, you're better off staying away from this one. It is a fun game to play, but not at a price. Besides the impressive graphics, Jujutsu Kiasen Cursed Clash doesn't have many great things going for it.
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash Review (Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
A Misfire in Manga Magic
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash resembles the proverbial Icarus who flew too close to the sun with waxed-attached feathers. Although the game soars with impressive graphics, Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash is grounded in mediocrity. The game ultimately falls short of greatness, needing more depth and innovation to truly shine in the competitive gaming landscape.