Jujutsu Kaisen hits the video game stage for the very first time, known for its high-octane clashes between curses and sorcerers. Yuji Itadori and his fellow classmates must learn to harness Jujutsu Sorcery as an ancient evil swells, beckoning danger ever closer. While the series is popular among both manga and anime fans, does the magic carry over to the world of video games as well?
Right off the bat, the main menu looks like something out of a 2000s title screen, with scenes from the anime playing in the background and a simple bar of options at the top. I bring this up because the UI in this game is atrocious to look at and maneuver through, and feels downright amateurish for the price tag this game has. This was my first red flag that this game might be of lower quality, and after completing the game I can say with confidence that the writing was on the wall from the very start.
When you begin a match in most modes, you’ll be playing some combination of 1v1, 1v2 or 2v2. It would seem that the 2v2 mode is likely going to be the most popular, as it seems like a lot of the moves, combos and balance seem to be centered around this set-up in particular. This is further cemented by the fact that outside of the Story Mode, there are currently no options to set up a 1v1 match. I say combos here lightly, because while there are three attack buttons, about ninety percent of the time you’ll be mashing square the entire match. This is largely because of the game’s greatest flaw; there are attacks that legitimately do zero damage.
Yes, you read that correctly, the only moves that do damage are moves enhanced with Curse Energy, which tend to only be the moves at the end of your strings. The game alleges these non-damaging moves to be Curse Extractors, allowing you to build your Curse Meter, but what’s the point when I could just be spamming square to build meter and do damage at the same time? This issue is exacerbated by the fact that a ton of your moves simply don’t flow into one another. If you initiate a launcher with triangle, you can’t follow up with anything besides the occasional ranged attack. If you use circle to knock an opponent down, all you’ve done is given them egregiously long wake-up armor to punish you, and dealt no damage to boot. It certainly doesn’t help that movement feels both floaty in the air and sluggish on the ground, with attacks feeling like they carry no weight behind them at all. Sure, some Awakened Abilities have some mildly cool animations, but even these become a drag when you’re taken out of the fight because your teammate across the map initiated their super move. There is almost nothing here to keep you engaged in a fight, which really rots the core of this game.
Story mode is about as bare bones as you can get, adapting the narrative of the first season of the anime and JJK 0 into a condensed slideshow. There are rare moments of actual cutscenes, but most of the time it is just stills from the show with text laid over on top. If you’re already familiar with the story, these are hardly worth your time, and if you aren’t so familiar… let’s just say there are far better ways of experiencing the narrative than this game. It also doesn’t help that many of these fights are ridiculously easy. It would be a tougher challenge not to ‘S’ Rank nearly every level on the first try. It’s pretty clear that there was very little passion that went into making the story mode even the slightest bit engaging, leaving behind a boring and borderline worthless mode.
The other modes on offer don’t get the Cursed Energy flowing much either. You’ve got a handful of online modes where you can face off against other people or team up to fight waves of bots and level up characters, but the issues just keep piling on. I experienced numerous network issues, either preventing me from joining matches or dropping me out mid-round. There were plenty of times where I experienced noticeable frame drops as well, making it a chore to fight back against the lag. Even when these things are going right, the simple things like setting up a lobby are still nightmarish. The game bombards you with screen after screen of match settings that could have been easily sorted into an optional menu, and it makes swapping between modes with your buddies even harder.
The fact that JJK: Cursed Clash is selling at a premium price of $60 is akin to highway robbery for the quality of game you receive. I really wanted to find something to love here, as I’m a fan of Jujutsu Kaisen, but there just isn’t anything here but bones. There isn’t even an option for local co-op, or hell even a proper training mode for that matter. I’d be ecstatic if the developers somehow turned this game around in the future, but I’m not holding my breath on this game surviving very long with just how boring and repetitive the core gameplay is. In its current state you’re better off playing almost any other anime fighting game.
Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash feels like nothing more than a soulless cash grab that likely exists only to fleece money from unsuspecting fans of the series. With lackluster combat, bare-bones modes, janky controls and an overall sense of unrefined gameplay, there is almost no reason I can recommend this game, even to JJK super-fans.