Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash Video Game Review

Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash Video Game Review

What’s this? A 3D arena-based fighting game with tag team mechanics based on the current most popular shonen anime? Where have I seen this before? Cursed Clash is a game that will feel familiar to fans of anime video game adaptations that have emerged in the past five years. Many of them, Cursed Clash included, have an expected formula. This is a shame because the inventive imagery and cursed techniques featured in Jujutsu Kaisen could be utilized in various game styles. As a package, Cursed Clash is a derivative, bare-bones fighting game that features everything it has to offer within the first two hours of gameplay.

Cursed Clash is a retelling of the first couple of arcs from the franchise, and right off the bat, there is something undeniably cheap about the presentation. The menu screen features some clips from the anime, and the modes on display felt incredibly economical, especially by most modern-day fighting game standards. There’s a story mode, a shop, and online matches. Many rewards are available, from profile cards to alternate costumes for characters that players can buy using currency acquired from online matches or by completing missions. However, even these rewards felt lackluster. Many of them boil down to cosmetic changes or items that can give you an edge during combat. Some of the costumes are humorous, like Jogo and Mahito wearing school uniforms, but the more I look at them, the more incongruent they feel. It’s like taking the head from one model and sticking it onto the body of another.

In fact, at a standstill, many of the 3D character models themselves look lifeless and off-putting. This happens often during transition screens, but they look pretty good in motion. Playing this on the PlayStation 5, I didn’t suffer any performance issues besides some slight lagging when logging into an online match. But particle effects and auras were good in order to add an extra crunch to attacks that specifically utilize cursed energy. Players can trigger the characters’ domain expansion once they accumulate enough cursed energy by performing consecutive combos against their opponent. I commend the level of detail that goes into re-creating a lot of iconic moves from the anime. In the heat of battle, the matches held my attention.

Players can perform blocks or side steps to avoid attacks and dash strikes to close the distance or perform heavy blows using cursed energy. Probably my biggest praise is how every character has a distinct fighting style, with no one feeling like clones of each other. Gojo uses his blue and red curse techniques to draw enemies in or snipe them from a distance, respectively. Megumi summons shikigami to augment his attacks, and Todo can utilize his clap technique to switch places with other people on the field. Once you fully explore your options, it’s impressive, albeit a little unbalanced.

This game has a tag battle feature. Utilizing either an NPC or another player, a lot of fights are two versus two. The primary goal is to knock out someone on your opponent’s team several times. It doesn’t matter if it’s split evenly or on the back of one person; if one team gets four knockouts over the other, you win. Players can fight together or fight one-on-one against their opponent’s team. Fighting together leads to stronger results if they strike opponents at the right time with combination attacks. However, some characters are inherently better at executing certain combos than others. Geto can summon insects that hold the player in place for a few seconds, thus making it very easy for his teammate to perform a combo strike. During my playtime, I didn’t discover a way to break out of this. You could ensure this attack never hits, but considering you don’t have control over the in-game camera, it’s easy to get hit off-screen or miss a block. Again, I commend the team’s attention to detail when executing specific attacks, but there should’ve been a better balance to account for specific abilities.

This isn’t where the game’s problems stop. It feels like everything went into making certain pieces of the combat flow and look as cool as possible while everything else fell by the wayside. I already mentioned that much regarding rewards for online matches. While online matches can sometimes feel unfair or poorly balanced, the story mode can feel dull and drawn out due to the presentation. I appreciate the game giving us an English dub with the original voice cast. Still, I cannot tell if they rerecorded new lines for the story mode or if they just ripped audio from the anime because that would feel consistent with the visuals. Even if they were new recordings, the audio mixing makes it hard to distinguish what the characters are saying by default, with the droning background music or poorly implemented anime OST always sounding louder. The story mode is divided into multiple chapters, and each of these chapters boils down to using cropped stills from the anime to present its story with some voiceovers from all of the characters. It is, without a doubt, one of the laziest ways that you could tell the story, and for the most part, it tries to condense the original content as much as possible. Players who have never seen the anime before may not appreciate the intensity of certain scenes or the importance of specific battles.

The fact that these are the types of cut scenes that I could get “rewarded” for by going through the story mode is laughable, especially when you consider that the gameplay for the story mode is just as bland and repetitive. It’s fights with specific mission requirements attached to them, like defeating your enemy with a domain expansion, landing three hits with cursed energy, or performing a combo attack. There’s nothing creative or relevant to the mission system except to pad out the fighting or make things feel more engaging than they are. About an hour into the game, I’d already mastered all of its mechanics, and by the second hour, I was bored senseless. You can get some bonuses by buying the ultimate or deluxe edition of the game, like an RBI baseball game, but while it’s fun as a brief novelty, it in no way justifies the price.

Considering we’ve been eating pretty well as fighting game fans for the past couple of months, nothing here satisfies me as a fan of the anime or the genre. At best, this game is just ok, but at worst, it’s a repetitive, slightly polished slog. It wouldn’t surprise me if people stopped playing this game online soon in favor of other fighting games on the market that feel more dynamic and more “anime” than this ever will. Honestly, save your money on this one.

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