Grab your chopsticks and prepare some good ramen because we travel to the land of the rising sun with this incredible thriller brought to us by Izanagi Games. A mix of pure graphic adventure mechanics and classic shoot ’em up action, Yurukill: The Calumniation Games will be released on July 8th for PlayStation, PC and Nintendo Switch.
The story takes place in an unspecified country and world, where a young man named Sengoku Shunju is accused of a series of murders he did not commit. The protagonist, along with five other criminals, is transferred to an island built as an amusement park where, if he wins, he can clear his name and commute his sentence. The criminals will ally themselves with the Executioners, humans who will agree to accompany them in exchange for having all their wishes granted if they win. Sengoku must pass the tests imposed at the Yurukill Amusement Park while defending his innocence and competing with the other teams.
A manga in motion
The main feature we need to address about Yurukill is its setting, as if it were an anime. There’s no denying that the game is made by Japanese and its tropes and aesthetics permeate the story. Something that not only shouldn’t hide, but will become its greatest strength and emblem. From the cover to the dialogue boxes, the story unfolds like any other mystery manga. The conversations between the characters jump between flashbacks of their past and the choices and answers we have to make in real time.
At Yurukill, we call it a “manga in motion” because that’s essentially what it is. It’s not just about character design. The narrative structures, the topics treated and of course the overall aesthetics and design of the setting are closely related to the Japanese comic genre. The main story comes from the mangaka Homura Kawamoto, known for the Kakegurui manga and anime, which we recommend here if you like Japanese thriller style. Yurukill explores human nature, the capacity for forgiveness and the sense of vengeance, and the characters’ arc is based on the trauma and conflict situations they went through to get to the point they are now.
This means that the game will be a real gem for lovers of Japanese culture and especially for anime consumers and manga readers who like visual novels. For those not used to this format, it can be a somewhat dense story, although it can also be quite a discovery. Yurukill is above all a graphic adventure, a mystery story in the purest Detective Conan style, peppered with puzzles of medium difficulty and confrontations with our enforcer. We must constantly show the game that we are aware of the narrative, and use the knowledge given to us to solve puzzles and try to prove our innocence.
It is very important to note that the game did not arrive with a Spanish localization. Dialogues are in Japanese (which is quite immersive in aesthetics), but all lyrics appear in English. So if we are not used to the Anglo-Saxon language, this can be a handicap for many because there is a lot of reading in Yurukill.
A shoot ’em up in the purest Japanese style
And yet we can’t relax in the conversations and riddles either, because as the story progresses we’re forced to face our own demons and fears, with the truths behind our case suddenly slipping into some ‘Bullet Hell’ sequences., will delight lovers of the genre. All of the concepts and information gained in the investigative format must later be posed in a question system against the clock, where failures in the filming phases diminish important benefits or lives. This is a similar format to what we saw in the Phoenix Wright series trials.
As for the higher shooter levels, we have to split your experience into two parts. Firstly, the one that we experience in the story mode, the difficulty of which we can choose depending on whether we want to focus on the main plot. I played it on Normal difficulty and the truth is that I found it very accessible, even easy. Remember, the better we do the interrogation stages, the more lives and perks we have for the action scenes. Something very important: manual saves in these stages and auto-saves do not work here, that is, if we lose we have to repeat the entire stage of shots and questions, all of which adds about 25 extra minutes of play, which will become very taxing.
On the other hand, we have a special game mode exclusively focused on the “Bullet Hell”, where we can choose the pilot we want, as well as the game phase (among the 6 available levels). The choice of pilot is very important as everyone has a slightly different shooting ability. Curiously, the results of our games are uploaded to an online server where we can see our global position in player rankings.
The Yurukill Judgment
I was able to enjoy Yurukill on Nintendo Switch and I have to say that it’s done very well. The fast-paced dialogue format, as well as the clue-seeking and arcade stages fit perfectly on a portable platform. I did suffer some frame drops on the Bullet Hell screens and the ship’s flight animations during the phases where there was more movement on the screen.
Visually, the anime aesthetics are very successful and both the dialogue boxes, which change depending on the protagonist’s intonation, and their design are spectacular. Of particular note is the character’s charisma and the exquisite design of Binko, our guide throughout the game and who could be the new Japanese Lady Dimitrescu. The soundtrack is spectacular and incredibly captivating, worthy of any avant-garde anime series.
And as a negative counterpart, I have to say that although the aesthetics and the script are spectacular, the game becomes very repetitive after the first few hours. Although we’ll move between different puzzles and within the five assassins’ stories, in the end we’ll have to do the same thing with each of them. The fact that the difficulty of the puzzles isn’t over the top doesn’t help alleviate the feeling of lack of variety, plus we don’t feel any real danger of dying or failing the stage. The shooter system looks pretty good as we said before, but the truth is that it seems like it’s two games trying to merge into one. While the whole spaceship and gunfire setting makes sense in the manga world it suggests, it seems to rub against the dense, oppressive environment of the puzzle and thriller stages.
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