Licensed properties have had a long history with video games, and it hasn’t always been a positive one. Some of the biggest failures in gaming history have been based on beloved franchises (such as E.T. and Superman 64), but JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has somehow avoided that. Both Capcom and CyberConnect2 have developed solid fighters around the action manga series, the latest of which is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven – a title that marks the series’ debut on PlayStation 4.
Despite being a follow-up to 2013’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, Eyes of Heaven doesn’t have too much in common with that game. The biggest change is that its combat no longer takes place on a 2D plane and is instead a 3D brawler similar to the developer’s Naruto games. The other big change is that battles are now 2-on-2 affairs, which is a departure from the mano a mano action seen in the previous title.
This dramatic change to the gameplay doesn’t work as well as one would hope, but there are some positives. The best thing is that it now feels a lot more like the anime that it’s based off of. I got to explore battle areas, jump across one rooftop to the next, and it felt like I was really interacting with the world of JoJo.
While that feeling of basically controlling an anime is certainly cool, there are also a lot of drawbacks. The two-on-two combat feels clunky at times, and that’s due to there being no real way to control your teammate. I couldn’t issue commands, and all too often I’d see my partner standing around doing nothing while I was getting ganged up on by two powerful enemies. This isn’t helped by the inevitably that every match becomes a handicapped struggle where two players take on the remaining member of the other team, which pretty much becomes a lost cause once one member goes down.
These issues basically curb Eyes of Heaven‘s potential of having any life as a competitive fighting game. There isn’t enough depth to the game’s core combat (which consists of just two buttons), and relying on A.I. doesn’t make for a fun experience. Luckily, there’s a very strong story mode that helps save the product from disaster.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven features an original plot that manages to include basically every notable character from the series’ 20+ year run. This is made possible due to the use of a magical turtle that protagonist Jotaro Kujo uses to cross into alternate worlds and time travel. It’s ridiculous, but it does a great job of justifying why all these characters (some of which should be dead) are back together.
However, while its premise is fantastic, it sadly starts off rather weak. For some reason, CyberConnect2 decided to limit the player’s move lists in the beginning. The combat is already very simple to begin with, so not having access to the majority of my character’s special moves made things a chore. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long before characters’ moves are unlocked and it ends up being thoroughly enjoyable after that.
The story mode is rather long and robust for a fighting game, and it’s definitely the highlight here. It does a good job of adding in variety by presenting battles where the player takes on hordes of less-powerful enemies, and there’s even a surprisingly fun poker mini-game to be found. It’s the one bright spot in what is otherwise a pretty dull package.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven has plenty of issues, but is saved by a really fun story mode. It might be akin to fan fiction, but in the best of ways. Both the characters and the plot are over the top, flamboyant and provide an eccentric ride through time and space. As such, fans of the manga will find plenty to like here, even if its gameplay is rather basic.
This review is based on the PS4 version, which we were provided with.
Fans of the source material will find plenty of like as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a love letter to the series. The story mode starts off on the wrong foot, but quickly becomes a compelling experience for fans and newcomers.