Subscribe Today

Ad-Free Browsing

Close This Ad

Review: Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent

7 Dec 2022

If you’ve caught the subtle mentions of it many times over the course of the years I’ve been reviewing here, you probably have a vague sense that I actually really like turn-based strategy games. Heck, I like strategy games in general, hence why I keep trying to play RTS games despite being demonstrably bad at them. And Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is… kind of both of those at the same time?

What it definitely is, however, is a strategy game. And it’s a strategy game coming to both the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 on December 9th; there is a Steam version, but it does not currently have an English version available, and the announcements are unclear on whether English support will arrive there as well as on consoles. But the Switch version (played for this review) is definitely available in English. So let’s knuckle down and start talking about it.

Expected Courses

The worst indictment of any story that you can offer is when the story comes down to “people you don’t care about and won’t remember doing things you don’t understand for reasons that don’t seem to matter.” Lamentably, that’s exactly the territory that Adventure Academia falls into almost immediately, with more backstory established via the peppy theme song that comes before the game than in the actual plot.

Without any preamble, we’re told that Alex, our protagonist, has the Ruler Orb that he needs to use to help Kiesel defend the Obsidian Academy. What is the Obsidian Academy? Who is Kiesel? No time for that, the battle is starting. After getting a very cursory bit of backstory, Alex then decides to head out after his father, the principal of the school, who’s apparently been missing for some time. He also takes his childhood friend, merchant Citrin, and the studious introvert Lazuli along with him. But that’s all he needs, since he can just summon students from the school to help him in battle!

The mental image of someone just doodling in her notebook before suddenly being summoned into the middle of a battlefield with some kid screaming, “You need to help fight that dragon!” amused me far more than any part of the plot.

Credit where it’s due: Adventure Academia does not have a plot that is actively offensive or egregiously terrible, nor does it fill itself with patently unlikable characters you then have to grit your teeth and tolerate. What it fills itself with are instead stock types that it trusts you to fill in the rest of the details about, and it’s hard to particularly care about them or the rest of the setting as a result. It’s the same sort of environment, setting, and cast you’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of times before. I don’t hate Citrin or Lazuli or Alex; I don’t feel anything about them. They’re stock types.

Perhaps this matters more if you are deeply invested in the Class of Heroes franchise, which this has spun off from. I tend to doubt it, but if that’s what you needed to hear to be interested in worldbuilding here, there you go. But the world has explicitly been deformed as part of the plot, so even that is dubious.

Intramural Electives

So this is not a game that’s going to be able to salvage itself by having a particularly strong plot to carry its lighter elements. That’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t have to inherently be all doom and gloom. There’s still hope if the game can manage to be a whole lot of fun to play. And the game is not atrocious in that department, but as a strategy game, it’s… weird. On a lot of levels. It feels like an attempt to marry RTS gameplay with a turn-based strategy, and it… well, it’s messy, but it does at least feel functional.

Your main unit is Alex, who cannot attack. What he can do is summon students from the school. Each student has a race (which in this game is the same as their class, a tendency I greatly dislike; all elves are archers, all humans are swordfighters, all fairies are healers, and so forth) as well as three randomly generated personality traits, which affect their stats and behavior. You summon your party members and place them in your control zone, basically dragging and dropping them.

Then you set a destination, and your little collection of units trundles off in the direction you indicate with nary a further input.

No, really. You can directly upgrade the rank of your units in battle (improving their stats slightly but fading at the end of the battle), you can direct a unit to use their unique magic ability (determined by raceclass, as expected), you can pick up a unit and move them to another spot within Alex’s control zone. But you don’t directly control their movements or attacks, they handle that on their own. So your job is managing positioning and watching them amble along, occasionally tossing out a specific spell, and maybe getting a sandwich along the way.

Fortunately for this odd playstyle, there’s no need to control who gets the finishing blow or anything; experience is all awarded after the fight to everyone in your party, along with SP you can use to enhance your character ranks and unlock passive skills. Eventually you can also specialize them down more distinct courses to differentiate individual units. There’s customization here, albeit a lot of it gated behind grinding.

In fact, in actual play it feels less like a strategy game and more like managing a strange tower defense game where your towers are a moving blob. There’s nothing else quite like it, but I don’t know if that’s altogether a good thing.

Community Art

Story sequences are all done in a style that reminds me of Granblue Fantasy, with static character art and generic monster art moving around while people talk over a static background. Of course, that game’s a free-to-play mobile title based on a browser that’s worked hard to overcome those limitations and stay dynamic; this is not really a mark in Adventure Academia’s favor. Fortunately, the character art and sprite work are nice and detailed, but unfortunately they sort of lack pop or enough animations. It’s not helped by things getting kind of confused and hard to see in the heat of battle.

I don’t know why this game has a vocal theme song. It’s peppy and upbeat but it just feels weird. It is, at least, the most memorable piece of music within the game. Then again, the game also very much feels like a budget title in its presentation… but for a game that costs $40 I don’t expect “budget presentation.” Maybe that’s just me.

Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any bugs or major issues while I played, although the camera controls and general map navigation is a bit wonky. This isn’t a big deal early on when each map is just a curving line, though… although then there’s a different issue because it feels like there’s no real reason for you to have to navigate the map in the first place when everything is just a straight line. I get very tired sometimes.

Pass/Fail Grade

It would be wrong to treat Adventure Academia as a bad game. It’s not into the territory where it’s frustratingly terrible and needed more attention before its designers dare release it onto the world. The game functions, the story is complete, and it is even the sort of thing that you can have a fair bit of fun with. It’s the strategy equivalent of getting Taco Bell because you happen to be hungry and it’s 9 PM – suitable for what you want but not going to stick to the ribs.

But then, that perhaps is the worst thing about it. The game isn’t terrible, but it’s a bit forgettable. It comes out on the right side wherein you can have some fun with it, especially if you really like strategy games, but it doesn’t really feel like it works very hard to do more than just be good enough. If you’re in the mood for a strategy game but don’t want quite so much strategy, it’ll fill you up, but it’s not going to delight you in the process.

~ Final Score: 6/10 ~

Review copy provided by PQube for Switch. All screenshots courtesy of PQube.