The Jujutsu Kaisen franchise is huge. Starting out life as a successful manga series, it now encompasses an anime TV series, stage plays, and more. It’s even had the videogame treatment, but Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is the first game to launch on consoles and PC. It’s just a shame that it’s a bit of a disappointment.
For those unfamiliar with Jujutsu Kaisen, it focuses on a high school student called Yuji Itadori. A member of the school’s Occult Club, he ends up eating a rotten finger after attracting Curses to the school, which are essentially demonic entities. Things soon go from bad to worse when he discovers that the finger he devoured also holds a powerful Curse, Ryomen Sakuna, and that sorcerers are now required to exorcise him immediately, ending his life.
Upon witnessing Yuji’s ability to retain control of his body, however, the sorcerers forge a plan: why not let Yuji eat all 20 (yes, 20) of Ryomen Sakuna’s fingers before exorcising him, eliminating the curse for good?
Jump into the story mode of Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash and you can play through the events covered in the first series of the Jujutsu Kaisen anime. With the story playing out much like a visual novel with static scenes, text and voiced dialogue, however, it’s not the best way to experience the story for the first or even subsequent time. But at least throughout its chapters players can take part in pivotal battles, taking control of Yuji Itadori and more while facing off against a wide range of adversaries including grotesque Curses.
Even when it comes to combat, though, Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash disappoints. It’s just so basic. It’s a 3D brawler much in a similar vein to the likes of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, and by hammering the standard attack button you can perform a basic combo, ending with a powerful Cursed attack providing the Curse Gauge is full enough to facilitate it.
Numerous Extraction Techniques are also available that you can work into your combos, and you can use instigate powerful Cursed Energy Techniques providing you have the energy to do so. Throw in the ability to jump, dash, dodge, and make use of devastating Awakened super attacks, and you have a fighting system that should work on paper. In practice though, it just feels wooden and unfulfilling.
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Of course, it’s a problem that persists throughout the accompanying modes of Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash, too, although there aren’t that many of them. There’s Free Battle, where you can create your own match-ups, albeit via an awful menu that makes it feel like you’re manipulating a spreadsheet. You can also battle against others online in either Ranked or Exhibition matches, although inexplicably you can only engage in tag team battles, despite story mode often putting you in one-on-one scenarios and it being an option in Free Battle.
It’s in the Online Co-op menu that you’re likely to find the game’s most interesting modes, with both Rush Battle and Survival Battle letting you face off against opponents while growing your power, either online with another player or offline with a computer-controlled teammate.
With over 15 playable characters, for those who do find joy in the combat of Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash there are many, many outfits to unlock, as well as a wealth of other extras. It’s safe to say it will take a while before everything is unlocked. But for most, with the combat being a bit duff, and other issues such as poor sound mixing, no Japanese voice over option, and an uninspiring presentation on the whole, there won’t be much to keep them coming back.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is very much a missed opportunity to capitalise on a popular franchise. It’s a brawler that fails to get the most important thing right – making its combat dynamic and interesting – and also makes a litany of other errors along the way. And so, while some die-hard fans may eke some enjoyment out of it, we can’t really recommend it at all.