Stuck in Limbo
Following the fantastic JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, and being the first Jojo game for PS4, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven has a lot of expectations to live up to. And while Eyes of Heaven manages to impress in some areas, it ends up being a hollow and bland game that leaves much to be desired.
First, a brief history of Eyes of Heaven.
CyberConnect2 released an EoH demo in Japan halfway through 2015, this was for players to try out the game they were making and report on any aspects they didn’t like. the gameplay and presentation were similar to the finished product, but it had some differences that made it unique. Attacking an enemy would cause the camera to shift to a similar angle to that of All Star Battle, before showing off animations that would later be absent from the full game.
Later in 2015, they released a second demo. This time there were more characters, stages and a multiplayer function for players to try out. This demo greatly resembled the final game, and had completely changed or removed some of the aspects from the original demo. The gameplay was still slightly different however, and some aspects were noticeably different.
This would be the final demo before the game’s final release. If you have a japanese account, the two demos are worth checking out. It’s interesting to see the differences in gameplay style, and how the game developed into the finished product we have today.
Now, on with the review.
EoH tells a new story that takes place following the end of Stardust Crusaders and the “Death” of Dio Brando. The gang are celebrating their victory, but are cut short when their friends (who are supposedly dead) reappear and attack them. The gang then meet Speedwagon and are sent on an adventure that spans through every iteration of Jojo to find the one who is causing all this trouble.
The story is as basic as an anime video game “original story” can be, and it’s simply an excuse to have the characters interact with each other in ways not seen in the manga or anime.
The downside is that the majority of the story is focused on the Stardust Crusaders characters, meaning that you have the “pleasure” of having angry edge-lord Jotaro as the main protagonist. He’s a character with no personality who is there to purely be overpowered and save anyone in trouble. It’s frustrating when characters who were never meant to meet (such as Young Joseph and Jousuke) begin a hilarious back-and-forth, and are immediately shut down by a completely uninterested Jotaro.
What was meant to be a funny and whacky adventure is bogged down by a completely uninteresting main protagonist.
Sadly, the gameplay doesn’t make up much for the story.
The game ditches the fluid and accessible 2D fighting gameplay of All Star Battle in favour of an open map 3D brawler akin to J-Stars Victory VS.
Choosing from a plethora of large open maps based on locations from the series, the player and a teammate (who can’t be controlled or commanded at all) battle against two opponents to the death.
The massive roster of characters make use of strong and light attacks to build combos, before unleashing unique special attacks that are based around their special abilities. Stand users often use their stands to fight for them, while hamon and vampire characters have to get close to use their abilities.
While this sounds like there’s a lot of skill required to understand these powers, there isn’t. By instigating a combo or pressing a button you can use these powers instantly. While there is a small cooldown, there’s no punishment for simply spamming “ORA,ORA,ORA” repeatedly until you’ve defeated the opponent.
EoH also is home to the same killer problem that J-Star had, invincibility frames. When a character is knocked to the ground, they become invincible for far too long, allowing them to get up and attack with a good amount of their combo before it’s even possible to attack them. But since there is no combo breakers or ways to get out of a combo, you’ll be stuck and forced to wait until you’ve been grounded and given the invincibility frames.
This means the game boils down to characters taking turns performing combos on each other while the other is invincible.
What EoH excels in, is capturing the mood and look of Jojo. Everything, from the character models to the HUD screams Jojo. At points in the game the player is allowed to walk around environments and talk to other characters, at these times you can really admire the detail put into each of the characters and locations. Some locations even change over the course of a battle, and match the same way they did in the manga!
Characters also give different taunts depending on who they’re fighting and where they are. If Dio defeats Jonathan in his mansion, Dio will cry out “Goodbyeeeeee Jojo!!” a reference to the famous scene in the series.
While this doesn’t make up for the lackluster gameplay, it would entice fans to plough through to see what little details they might find next.
Overall, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a letdown. It failed to improve upon the previous games and ended up being the strange runt of the litter. While it oozes with style and potential, it fails on nearly all fronts when it comes to implementation. If you’re a fan of the series, chances are you’ve already got your copy. If not, wait until it’s on sale.