The greatest unsolved mystery may just be whatever is going on in the marketing department of Izanagi Games. It started with World’s End Club, a puzzle-adventure title that was marketed to be from the minds of Kotaro Uchikoshi and the creators of Danganronpa. Based on the marketing and even the demo, conventional wisdom dictates that the game would be a murder mystery based on the first hour of the game and the previous work by the creators, but the rest of gameplay is anything but. Yurukill: The Calumniation Games suffers the same fate. The marketing suggests that the game is a shoot ’em up, which is technically true, but the majority of the gameplay and the overall strength of the game is the murder mystery that unfolds through the visual novel gameplay.
The overall plot to Yurukill bears some resemblance to the Netflix hit, Squid Game. A group of prisoners are brought to an elaborate amusement park in order to compete for a pardon for their crimes. Going into any more detail about the story encroaches on spoiler territory, but suffice to say, the best part of Yurukill is playing the visual novel portion and watching the mystery unfold. The visual novel takes place over a number of chapters, with each one focusing on a pair of characters and how their lives intertwine. Yurukill does an excellent job of developing each personality and provides ample backstories to really add weight to the emotional attachment.
The chapters have the same basic structure: a visual novel with some light puzzles, a questionnaire phase, and finishes with a shoot ’em up level and boss to defeat. Most of the time is spent in the visual novel section enjoying the story and solving some simple puzzles. A small few of the them require some deep thought but all of them have hints that can be accessed at any time that mostly spell out the answers. At the end of the story, a short life or death mini-game takes place where the prisoner is asked a series of questions related to their crime. The answers are always obvious which undercut the stakes involved.
The final phase that seems to get the majority of the marketing is the shoot ’em up section at the end of each chapter. These sections are explained via the story but without spoiling they can be described as a VR game within the game. Each prisoner has a different ship with unique attacks and both the layout of the rather short level, and the attacks of the boss are designed with those in mind. As a shoot ’em up, Yurukill is fine. The difficulty level can be adjusted to simply fly through with minimal effort or cranked up to the extreme for fans of that genre. The shoot ’em up sections can be accessed via the main menu outside of the story as well for those looking to replay the shoot ’em up areas later on.
The main story of Yurkill can be completed in a very enjoyable 10 hour span. Some of the dialogue can go on a little long but otherwise the pacing of the story beats drop at a decent rate. As a visual novel, Yurukill is an easy recommendation. The mystery of the amusement park of death is a treat to discover and a pair of characters add levity at the perfect times. Adding the shoot ’em up gameplay is an interesting choice and adds some neat variety to the experience but ultimately comes across more as a break from the story than anything else.
- Terrific story with well crafted characters
- Awesome soundtrack that perfectly sets the mood
- Accessibility options for those that wanna cheese the shmup section
- Amount of lives in the shmup section depends on a redundant questionnaire.
- Some of the dialogue goes on too long