If you've ever wondered what a murder mystery shoot 'em up would be like then look no further than Yurukill: The Calumniation Games.
│ At Video Chums, accessibility is important and we go to great lengths to ensure that it's easy for everyone to enjoy our content. 👩🦯
Yurukill's gameplay swaps between escape room, murder mystery, puzzle-solving, and arcade shooting throughout its campaign in a fantastic way much to my surprise. Who would have thought combining a shmup with Danganronpa would work so well? v1d30chumz 35-172-223-251
In Yurukill: The Calumniation Games, you play as 5 teams that are tasked with finding out information about a crime which was committed while solving puzzles along the way. As each team is made of at least one prisoner and an executioner, it's up to the prisoner to convince their executioner that they should be acquitted of the crime that they allegedly committed. After gathering every piece of evidence, you'll then enter a shoot 'em up segment where you'll play as one team member while shooting the other.
The prisoners on each team are currently serving a sentence and have been taken out of prison to play in The Calumniation Games in the hopes of beating the other teams and winning the chance to leave prison permanently. The executioner on the team possesses a button that they can press at any time to kill their prisoner (or prisoners) if they please so it's up to the prisoners to convince them otherwise. As the executioner is granted any wish they want if their team wins, they must decide what matters more to them: granting their wish or finding out the truth of the crime which usually has affected their life in a profound way. This dynamic makes things interesting from the start and creates some very tense scenes among the cast of characters.
Each team must make their way through multiple escape rooms in order to learn about the crime including completing puzzles of varying difficulty. I quite enjoyed completing these sections and they offered a solid level of challenge; sometimes requiring me to think outside the box. Yurukill has a hint system where you can view 3 hints with no penalty although some are more useful than others. As you uncover evidence, you'll start to piece together what happened during the crime while getting to know the motives behind it.
Some of these crimes are catastrophic while others have deep personal impact on the executioner and watching them talk back and forth is entertaining for sure but the general banter occasionally goes on a little too long. I also wish that there were more characters and stories to unfold because I would have happily played through a few more teams' stories before I got tired with the game.
After gathering all of the evidence, you'll enter the shoot 'em up portion of the gameplay that does an impressive job of keeping with the theme of Yurukill: The Calumniation Games as it integrates itself into the murder mystery narrative. When you first start this segment, you'll answer questions about the case and the number of correct answers you give determines how many lives you are allotted. You have to pay attention to the facts because missing out on lives can be devastating as you'll also need to answer questions about the case later on that will take multiple lives away from you if you get them wrong.
I asked our resident shmup expert and head honchum himself A.J. Maciejewski to try out a shoot 'em up segment and he had quite a good time with it. However, there are a few repeating enemies throughout the many shooting segments and there isn't a ton of depth in the controls but what's there can be quite enjoyable and definitely challenging at parts. I particularly enjoyed the levels where you have to wind your way through corridors while shooting at enemies and blocks in your way.
In between shooting, you'll sometimes be interrupted by dialogue where you'll have to choose evidence to present in order to prove your case to the executioner and picking the wrong thing makes you lose lives so it's a pretty high stakes feat. Right at the end of the shooting, you'll also have to come to the correct conclusions about the case in a fast-paced flying segment that punishes you even more for making the wrong decisions by taking multiple lives. Intertwining these difficult decisions with the intense shooting action really amps up the excitement and in the end, makes the arcade-style shooting segments a thrill. 😄
I should add that the shooting segments can be played separately to the main story after unlocking them so if you want to replay them later, you'll have a full shot 'em up to enjoy. There are also a few collectible items to find on each stage if you missed them the first time.
The investigation sections take you through a variety of recreated crime scenes such as an apartment building that is engulfed in flames and backstage at a concert. There's a solid amount of detail in each scene with a wealth of items to interact with and the portraits are detailed with each character effectively portraying their own personality. Although there's no English voice acting, the tone of the Japanese voice actors fits well with the characters. I particularly enjoyed the character of Binko who loves to change the volume and tone of their voice without notice thus making them abruptly swap from angry to just plain silly. 🤭
The map of Yurukill Land where the entire game takes place looks like an extremely detailed hand drawn painting and watching the train animate on it as the characters move to the next stage is enjoyable just because it gives you the chance to look at the whole picture more. Add the intense music and sound effects when playing the shoot 'em up segments and you can see that a lot of love was put into the presentation of Yurukill: The Calumniation Games.
Yurukill: The Calumniation Games does a fantastic job of marrying a dark murder mystery with a rewarding shoot 'em up. IzanagiGames has managed to get the formula just right and I hope they invest in the series with a sequel that has an even larger scope.
- + Shooting segments are a blast and fit impressively well with the narrative
- + Investigation and puzzles are a lot of fun
- + Great characters / attractive presentation
- - Could do with even more characters and additional crimes to solve
- - Some characters babble on too much