Yurukill: The Calumniation Games review: Creative, but rambling

Yurukill: The Slander Games

MSRP $49.99

“Yurukill: The Calumniation Games doesn’t quite find the right narrative justification for its intriguing gameplay hooks.”


  • Fun shoot’em up sections

  • Compelling character stories

  • The music is great

The inconvenients

  • Puzzles are too easy

  • Shoot-em-up sections don’t match the narrative

  • Technical problems

Yurukill: The Slander Games tries to mix two incredibly niche genres: the visual novel and the shoot’em up (shmup). By incorporating the two, developer Izanagi Games risks undermining the game’s audience even further. Half of the game involves reading through mounds of dialogue between characters to navigate the story with light puzzle solving. The other half has players commandeering a battleship in classic shmup sections and gunning down grotesque enemies.

The result is an odd mix of different playstyles that feels fresh but disjointed. Yurukill: Slander has engaging spur-of-the-moment gameplay mechanics, but lacks a narrative rationale that ties them all together.

let the games begin

The game follows two protagonists: Sengoku Shunju and Rina Azami. They both participate in the Yurukill Games, where the winner will be acquitted of their crimes. The problem here is that Sengoku and Rina are partners, with the former being the prisoner and the latter the executioner.

The prisoner is accused of committing a crime, while the executioner acts as a judge to decide the prisoner’s ultimate fate. Sengoku insists he was falsely accused, but it’s Rina who wields the button to forgive his actions or kill him by releasing poison into his neck from his collar. This setup invites a biting and sharp tension between the two throughout the game, as Sengoku must constantly assert his innocence, lest Rina execute him.

There are several other duos in the game that are in the same dynamic, with each prisoner being charged with a different crime. The groups are called Crafty Killers, Sly Stalkers, Death Dealing Duo and Peeping Toms. Sengoku and Rina are known as the mass murderers. Fortunately, each chapter changes the point of view for each team. This way you get enough time between all the characters and you get a holistic perspective of each one.

All groups are sent to different attractions across Yurukill Land and must solve a dungeon depending on the crime committed by the prisoner. In these dungeons, you’ll need to gather evidence from a first-person perspective, similar to a point-and-click game. These dungeons recall the events that led to the prisoner being sent to prison and eventually joining the Yurukill games. You’ll also learn about each character’s backstories and how prisoners and executioners are connected. Each dungeon is well-paced and doesn’t linger beyond its welcome.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

The main problem with dungeons is that the puzzles they contain are easy to the point of being almost insulting. To give you an idea of ​​how simple they are, one had me solve a simple math equation using the order of operations.

While I appreciate that the puzzles are simple and not obtuse like those in similar games like the Zero Escape series, the puzzles in yurukill swing too hard in the opposite direction. The sense of urgency and fear of a character’s life hanging in the balance is dissipated when the solution to a puzzle is literally to line up the colors of the rainbow in ROYGBIV order.

After clearing a dungeon, you’ll be placed in a shoot-em-up section against your executioner – this helps mix up the gaming experience of a pure visual novel. You’ll shoot down waves of incoming enemies and earn bonuses along the way, then take down the final boss at the end of the level.

One thing that helps distinguish these sections from dedicated shmup games is that when you beat a stage, you’ll sometimes be thrust into a mini-game where you’ll have to present evidence to refute an executioner’s claim. Other than that, the gameplay is a bit basic but it was fun enough to hold my attention.

It feels like these sections are just there to have traditional gameplay elements.

However, the way yurukillThe history of attempts to justify these shmup sections is flimsy. There’s a tonal mismatch with the characters experiencing trauma through recreations of gruesome crime scenes, then immediately having to put on VR headsets to play a shooter. It feels like these sections are just there to have traditional gameplay elements. The music is great, though. The electric guitar running through the boss theme really amps up the excitement of closing these sections.

Imitation is a form of flattery

Through yurukillI couldn’t help but think how similar it was to another of the games published by NIS America, Danganronpa. They both have the game of death premise and yurukill also has anime portrait cutouts for its characters that appear during pivotal moments in the story, just like the Danganronpa series does.

The Yurukill Games even have their own Monokuma-like spectator character, a girl wearing a kitsune mask named Binko. However, yurukillThe art style of is distinctive as it goes for a more realistic anime look compared to Danganronpathe cartoon aesthetic of – the character designs look more like Zero time dilemma.

Unfortunately, at least in the Nintendo Switch version, yurukill suffers from performance issues. In visual novel games, you can usually view a recent dialogue history without any friction. However, there is an annoying pause hitch that causes the loading symbol to appear when extracting past dialogue. Other visual novel games, including the recently released AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiativeusually don’t have this issue and load instantly, so it’s a noticeable annoyance.

yurukill has some cool concepts, but it’s not as polished and optimized as some of the titles it’s based on.

There is also some slowdown during firing sections if there are too many enemy attacks or effects on screen. During the final boss fight, I ran into a progress block where the on-screen text was not advancing. After trying several solutions such as restarting the game, I was finally able to work around the bug by changing the language of my game’s text from English to another and then back.

yurukill has some cool concepts, but it’s not as polished and optimized as some of the titles it’s based on. The pause hitch when trying to pull up past dialogue hinders the game’s narrative flow. in attacking an enemy and losing a life.

Our point of view

Yurukill: The Slander Games is a valiant effort to merge two niche genres, but it feels a bit underwhelming. The premise of the titular Yurukill games is interesting and the characters have compelling stories, but there needs to be more meat and narrative justification for the shoot-em-up gameplay sections. Spoiler-free, the ending of the game is indeed sequel bait. If this game’s shortcomings can be ironed out in a follow-up, there’s definitely potential here.

Is there a better alternative?

The Danganronpa and Zero Escape franchises are better visual novel experiences with more complex stories and engaging puzzles. games like Ikaruga and Sine Mora are better shoot-em-ups because they’re all about mechanics like that.

How long will it last?

The game will take around 12 hours on the easiest difficulty, but may take a bit longer if you choose normal or hard (hell) difficulty for the shoot-em-up sections. There’s also a Score Attack mode, which lets you compete for high scores online on the leaderboards.

Should I buy it?

Yes, but maybe wait for a price drop. If you like both genres or are a fan of niche Japanese games in general, then yurukill may be for you. It’s a unique game, but there are definite improvements to be made.

Yurukill: The Slander Games has been tested on Nintendo Switch.

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