Young Yuji Itadori is almost an ordinary high school student if you ignore his naturally pink hair and implausible physical performance. Built like a Norman wardrobe, capable of jumping several floors in a single bound, our fellow is as strong as he is accommodating towards his neighbor. A cream. But his little world is turned upside down when evil spirits interfere in his daily life: Yuji swallows a cursed relic to save his comrades, sees himself possessed by a sociopathic millennial spirit, and by force joins a high school for exorcists. So far the recipe shōnen classic is respected. But Jujutsu Kaisen quickly stood out by offering combat that was as tactical as it was dynamic, mainly inspired by Bleach for the atmosphere (this is seen in the latent charisma of each character) and Hunter X Hunter for the cerebral-explanatory aspect. Paragraphs on Buddhist esotericism rub shoulders with duels to the death between exorcists and scourges where the protagonists soon find themselves skinned to the bone. The potential for a brawling game is there.
Close to being correct
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash takes the form of a arena fighter in 2v2. A bit like in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, hitting your opponent does not inflict damage, but rather fills our cursed energy gauge – equivalent to mana – and increases its maximum capacity up to a certain cap (defined according to the characters) . This gauge is used to launch special attacks which will hurt a lot. Each fighter has two spells whose effectiveness and cost depend on the level of our gauge. The idea is to start small before launching more and more destructive special techniques as the fight goes on.
A rather original format which allows Byking to exploit the wildly different abilities of fighters, like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Eyes of Heaven before it. For example, Todo the Muscle Mountain has the innate spell Boogie Woogie ; nothing to do with evening prayer, this technique exchanges the position of two objects or people by clapping your hands. Ideal for sowing discord in the fray. On paper, the mechanics and the 2v2 format therefore open the door to innovative strategies.
The compliments will stop here. While it’s refreshing to have a truly diverse cast, the sensations are so mediocre that Byking’s hard conceptual work is directly destroyed. My Hero One’s Justice already had a complicated relationship with gravity, but Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash opts for the simulation of swimming in a space environment. Every action, every movement, every strike is hopelessly stuck in molasses. Any exchange of blows inevitably ends up taking to the air with endless aerial combos. This contrasts radically with the very lively martial duels that made the saga famous. The rhythm is seriously hampered since our characters take a long time to get up when they are knocked to the ground. Not to mention the damage from spells which oscillate between a wet fart and a nuclear bomb on an infant.
It is not possible to catch up on cooperation given the very limited potential of the systems. Hitting the same opponent (or helping a comrade in distress) generates a small bonus of cursed energy; we can also work together to launch an unstoppable “combination attack”, usable once per match. In fact, four-way scrums quickly become illegible. Because of the camera, partially, but also the physics engine created which, already painful in 1v1, turns out to be disastrous in more intense confrontations.
Bandai Namco passion slides
Let’s quickly move on to the retrograde visual aspect which tastes good to the start of the PS4’s career. Despite certain efforts to reproduce the visual style of the animated series, remarkably worked by the MAPPA studio, the general softness is felt too much in the impacts. It’s like putting glitter on a bike lane, it’s cute but it doesn’t make it the Rainbow Road. The general blandness hits hard the ultimate attacks of the characters which are difficult to see against the competition (CyberConnect2 remaining absolute master of the staging). The arenas offer a basic destruction system but their limited number makes it very depressing.
The permanent redundancy of the playing fields is particularly felt in the Story mode, where the same three arenas come back in a loop (with rare asides to take a breather), interspersed by miserable slides completely destroying the original narration. For example, the internal duel between Yuji and Sukuna (the evil spirit that inhabits him) does not occur in a mental space studded with bones, but in the same rotten warehouse as the previous fights. In short, we go through all the “cutscenes” – I’m being kind – and we mechanically massacre what comes to hand. The soundtrack does more decently by imitating the soundscape of the anime; it’s obviously disappointing not to hear the electric-eclectic compositions of Hiroaki Tsutsumi and Alisa Okehazama, but this defect is so widespread among manga adaptations that we won’t specifically hold it against Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash (shooting the ambulance is not a socially acceptable sport…).
There is no point in turning to local or online modes because their abject poverty is matched only by the instability of the servers. Finding friends is a priesthood, finishing a game without problems is almost a miracle.Otherwise, no local multiplayer of any kind. A little heresy for a product that could still only find salvation through wild evenings lulled by one too many beers. Let’s end the overview with a round of subsidiary criticism: the character selection menu in the form of an Excel table, inexplicable drops in framerate on PS5, inexplicable shortcomings in casting (Mechamaru where are you?) and sub-par titles often absent. A good point for the road: Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash features a good amount of bonus costumes to unlock as you play. It’s always a catch!