By Steve Baltimore / July 1st, 2022
|Title||Yurukill: The Calumniation Games|
|Developer||IzanagiGames, G.rev Ltd., ESQUADRA,inc.|
|Publisher||NIS America, IzanagiGames,|
|Release Date||July 5th, 2022|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Shmup|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Steam|
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I took NIS America’s release of Yurukill: The Calumniation Games on for review. This looked like a visual novel mixed with a shmup, and I’m always saying we need more unique games in the industry. This certainly seemed like it would be that if nothing else. Let’s dig in and see if this crazy mix of genres made an unforgettable experience or just a big mess.
The story here begins with a man named Sengoku Shunju in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, or at least he claims he didn’t commit. He awakens in his cell one day to a strange visitor named Binko. She tells him he can be pardoned of his crimes if he can survive attractions in a certain amusement park in a game called Yurakill. What she doesn’t tell him is this game is played in teams: with prisoners like him, and executioners. In his case this is Rina Azami, whose whole family died in the fire Shunju is convicted of setting. She doesn’t believe him for one minute and has joined the game like the other executioners to see her wish granted. She wanted the one who took her family from her punished. This means if she wins, the vengeance she so desires will be her’s. Their teams is called Mass Murderers, but there are four other teams participating in these games as well: Death Dealing Duo, Crafty Killers, Sly Stalkers, and Peeping Toms. Each one has a unique story to tell and by the end of the game only one will win and have their wishes granted!
I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here to avoid spoilers but I love all of the stories here. It was very interesting to see how each team’s crimes played out and watch the prisoners try to prove their innocence to some less-than-receptive executioners. Each story felt very unique and polished with a ton of attention to detail. This played into the visual novel sections, where you would uncover the story by exploring different areas solving puzzles. Overall I was very entertained by all of this and anyone that loves a good mystery story with lots of twists should be all over this one.
One of the things that caught my eye immediately in Yurukill: The Calumniation Games was the art style. I always loved anime art done in this way and it fits this game’s darker tone to a tee. The detail in the visual novel sections is just simply amazing. This really helped you get immersed in the story while they were telling you the grizzly crimes these prisoners may have committed. Even the puzzles in the game had a lot of flair in their designs. I really want to replay this soon to find all the small details I missed.
The shmup sections found here look great as well. Each start has some amazing backgrounds scrolling while you blast all of the baddies into oblivion. The player ship models are all very nicely detailed along with all of the amazing bosses you will encounter along the way. I loved when you hit the final boss battle of each section they were presented in the most mecha anime way possible. This always amps me up for a bit fight, and it was a very nice touch here.
The music here is top notch as well. Each chapter’s themes fit the story they tell very well, and since the story is overall pretty dark and mysterious, expect some very eerie tracks. While those tracks were amazing, the music in the shmup stages were by far my favorites. There are ton of upbeat tracks to blast your ear drums as you lay waste to all the enemy forces. This is of course topped off by some amazing boss music. The vocal tracks are especially great here, and if I had one thing I would nitpick it’s that the tracks do not unlock in a gallery like in most visual novel style games. I would love to see this added with a patch down the line. Aside from the music, the game is fully voice in Japanese and I love this cast. The voice actors fit these characters very well and give them a lot of personality.
Gameplay here is divided up into two sections. The first part will have players explore various attractions set up to retell the crimes the prisoners have been convicted of. You will explore these locations point-and-click style, gathering evidence and solving puzzles along the way. This was a very good way to tell these story and it gave the game almost a detective like feel at times. I was really impressed with amount of thought and detail that went into each scenario. Once you complete this part of each chapter, it’s time for the shmup section to begin. Each one of these will begin by asking you a series of questions about the case that was presented. Right answers will earn you more lives to complete the three stages ahead of you. This gives you an advantage for the challenge up ahead. As you defeat enemies in these stages they will drop bits of data. Players can collect these to build their Outburst Meter. At 20% you can survive a single hit from an enemy or you can use this meter for two different attacks. The smaller attack will use only a little of the meter and drop a few bombs on an enemy it locks on to. If you choose to use the full burst at 100% it will do massive damage to everything on the screen but you will be back to 0% and will die if you take even a single hit until it is built back up.
Having just plain ole shmup stages was not good enough for this very unique title. When you encounter a boss battle with your executioner these will play out in different sections. Defeating the first form causes the boss to put up shields to guard their mind. You will then have to destroy these in order to enter their mind and destroy the prejudices they have. This is done by presenting evidence you found during the visual novel section. If you present the right evidence you will proceed onward, but wrong answers will cost you three lives every time you’re wrong, so choose carefully. Once you reach the final boss battle of each shmup section, you will be faced with a Mind Maze. Here you will be presented with a partial thought the executioner is having and you will have to complete it. Most of these sections were pretty easy if you paid attention to the details of each scenario, but just like in the earlier boss sections, wrong answers will cost you three lives, so choose wisely. I know this sounds crazy and overly complicated, but it works out great for this game. It gives players a very unique and very fleshed out overall experience.
Overall I had a fantastic time with Yurukill: The Calumniation Games. I loved the story, characters, art style, music and the gameplay is some of the best I’ve experienced in a long time. I feel like fans of either of these genres would have a ton a fun with this game. The shmup sections are pretty challenging but there is an easy setting for folks like me that suck at them greatly. You can adjust this to your liking and take them on in higher settings in the challenge mode that features online leaderboards. It took me about 13 hours to complete the story here, but I feel like there is a bit of replay value here just taking on various shooting in the unlocked mode. This one is easy to recommend at that $39.99 price tag and will likely be one of the best and most unique titles released this year.
Game was provided by the publisher.
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