Kraken Academy!! Review

Gaming
8

Great

Kraken Academy

Developer: Happy Broccoli Games
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Platforms: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 10 September 2021
Price: $17.99 USD/$25.95 AUD – Available Here

Overview

Many games are released every single day, so it’s difficult, especially for a new developer, to stand out. Kraken Academy!! is Happy Broccoli Games’ first game, and to attract attention, they decided to use very eye-catching promotional visuals with bright colors and nice-looking drawings. Time travel is not a new concept, be it in movies or video games, but here it’s approached with a lot of humor making the concept feel fresh.

Story

The player plays as a teen boy starting at a new school called Kraken Academy. The school is composed of multiple clubs that each represent an activity: there’s the music club, the art club, the sports club, and the drama club. However, soon after the main character arrives, he discovers that the school is in danger and that he’s the one that must save it from destruction. To achieve this task, he will only have three days.

The game doesn’t take itself very seriously, a lot of the characters and situations are intentionally absurd. For example, the main character becomes the disciple of a giant kraken, and the player can befriend a girl turned into a living broccoli. There’s even a parody of Ace Attorney. Still, I found myself interested in the main storyline and I really wanted to discover the secrets behind the school. Additionally, I liked most of the characters and thought it was fun to do their side quests so, that I could befriend them. But, as it is often the case with humor, the game might not appeal to everyone.

Gameplay

The core gameplay is very simple. It mainly consists of going around the school, talking to NPCs and to smash bins and lockers in order to obtain bottles that can then be exchanged against in-game currency. Overall, the gameplay is very fluid and satisfying.

Some events in the main story will require the player to play through quick time events to make sure the character realizes tasks correctly. While I understand that these QTEs were added to make the gameplay feel a bit more dynamic and engaging, in my opinion, they were not necessary and, after a while I even found them to be rather annoying.

Towards the end of the game, the gameplay changes a little bit for the duration of a few boss fights. The player will have to dodge attacks and hit the boss at the right moment. Even if these fights are easy after a couple of failures, there’s the option to skip these parts, which I think is great.

The game revolves around a time travel mechanic. There’s only three days, from Monday to Wednesday, to save the school. Most quests will have to be achieved on specific days, but if the player misses the deadline, there’s still the possibly to rewind time and go back to Monday. An option to make time go forward is also present which is useful, especially when completing side quests. A game mechanic based on seeing the same three days again and again might sound boring. Yet, it isn’t because each time a quest of the main storyline is achieved a new part of the school will be open. Meaning new buildings to explore, new characters to meet as well as new side quests.

There’s an emphasis on completion thanks to in-game achievements and a completion percentage that is shown each time after saving. To complete the game at 100%, the player has to achieve both the main storyline and all of the side quests. This is obviously a way to increase the lifespan of the game. I’m not usually the type of person to fully complete games outside of the main storyline, but I enjoyed how that aspect was designed here, and I did continue playing even after finishing the main story.

Visuals

The game is mostly made in rather basic pixel art. It is not the best-looking pixel art I’ve ever seen in a video game, but it’s still easy to tell what the locations and objects are supposed to represent. On the other hand, the drawn visuals are gorgeous and help to make the multiple characters feel unique. These visuals were clearly inspired by anime, which is something the game totally embraces during its animated intro cutscene. I want to add that the in-game menus look very good, and it is clear that a lot of efforts were put into making them.

Audio

The soundtrack was not bad, but it didn’t leave much impression on me either.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed playing this game and I recommend it! I did have some issues with the repetitiveness of the QTEs, I also wish that the school grounds would have been bigger and the soundtrack more memorable. Still, the game is very enjoyable with a fluid gameplay, fun characters, and a humorous and rather engaging story.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

It's always a difficult task for a development team to release their first game but Kraken Academy!! is a success. Despite a few flaws, it's overall a good game and shows Happy Broccoli Games' potential.
8

Great

I really don't know what I'm doing with my life except when it comes to video games

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