Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent Review – The New Kid at School

    Title: Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent
    Developer: Acquire
    Release Date: December 9, 2022
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: PQube
    Genre: Sim RPG

I’m all for not fixing what isn’t broken. To that point, I’m glad developer Aquire didn’t call Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent an official entry in the Class of Heroes series. Being a spin-off, Adventure Academia is allowed to try new systems with its gameplay and narrative. Still, sadly, I think this game should have gone to summer school because it clearly didn’t understand the assignment.

What Adventure Academia does right is provide a low-maintenance school sim RPG experience. Outside of that, its systems are messy, and its narrative is irrelevant, and yet, I couldn’t put it down for hours at a time.

Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent takes place on the continent of Pedra, which is currently being overrun by monsters. Our protagonist Alex just found out his father has left to check on these orbs scattered around, which have something to do with the monster outbreak. Unfortunately, Alex’s father just so happened to leave him the Ruler Orb, which allows him to command others and enhance their battle capabilities.

Eventually, Alex kicks it into gear and tries to find his father while his friend and advisor tag along. So, they’ll go from orb to orb to figure out what’s causing the outpour of monsters. A brief story scene accompanies each unlocked area before and after the fight, but it’s primarily nonsensical and irrelevant. The most significant story updates occur during boss battles, but even those can be skipped.

I was waiting for a prominent character to appear, join your team, and grow throughout the story, but this is not that type of game. Characters you meet during the story only serve for narrative purposes. Characters in your party will never make an impact, which makes it challenging for you to care about them.

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When it comes to character creation, you can enlist new students as you please. Simply having them in your party during a battle will allow them to gain experience, but enlisted characters will always join at Level 1. Characters have specific weapon types and special magical abilities, encouraging you to have a diverse party of classes.

Out of battle, you can visit the Obsidian High at any point to equip your party. Sadly, there isn’t an auto-equip option, but the equipment is pretty straightforward, with slight buffs and advantages to add to the character’s base stats. These can be further enhanced at the school lab, but it costs G, the in-game currency.

Further, SP is required to enhance characters within their current course. Characters can move up a course to have access to more abilities, but this takes time, considering the amount of SP required to graduate a character. The school also offers a store option to purchase new equipment, but many of these items can be found during battles.

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Battles are where you’ll spend most of your time during gameplay and what is likely the weakest part of it. From the beginning of each battle course, players are asked to destroy a target, which is typically an enemy or an orb. Alex enters the field first and can place two characters down. A timer is displayed, but players can pause the time to strategize. While time is moving, Alex will gain MP, used for magic abilities and to Rank Up himself and each party member on the field. You can speed up time, which helps in the early moments if you are trying to build up your party members early on.

As you gain ranks, your characters will become stronger and more characters can be summoned to the field. Strangely, party members can’t be controlled. Instead, you place a marker on the field, and everyone will start moving toward it. However, some characters move faster, so they’ll zoom into danger, killing any joint effort you had planned. Still, you can pick up a character from anywhere on the map and place them in Alex’s general vicinity.

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In battle, characters can buff themselves using their unique abilities, but navigating the button layout is confusing. You’re asked to constantly move the marker, pay attention to the chaotic enemy-filled screen, use abilities without really knowing if they took effect, and keep Alex alive while fumbling to understand a button structure where buttons have different actions depending on which menu you’re in. However, after a few hours, I began to get used to it and found it a little fun based on how strange it might look to someone watching.

The most hindering battles are the boss encounters. This shows the issue with the marker feature since the entire party will move toward it, including Alex. However, bosses can one-shot your entire party using an attack with an enormous AOE. Therefore, these fights need to be played at normal speed to react to the ability and try to avoid it. If a party member falls, they are put on a cool down and lose a rank, but they can be resummoned. So, protecting Alex is your only real option.

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It’s a little jarring since the maps before bosses are relatively straightforward. Luckily, you can attempt to level grind, but the battles are so dull that I’d attempt to take down the boss at the required level. After the first boss, every map pretty much plays out the same. You’ll rarely have to change your tactics and can breeze through each battle until you have to actually play the game by cheesing through the boss encounters. In essence, it feels like this game could have been an idle game, but it requires you to move the marker and react to any changes during the fights, such as interacting with a switch or a monster trap.

Graphically, I found the character illustrations to be charming, even though they only have one pose. However, the quality of the illustrations is upsetting because each party member looks excellent. Sadly, they never get any growth. Characters are voiced in most story scenes, but I wouldn’t say it’s fully voiced. Still, the Japanese audio tracks are well produced and give a little personality to the characters.

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Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent introduces too many nuanced systems that I feel like it lost sight of what it wanted to be. The school sim managing systems are sound, but they don’t work well with the battle system that doesn’t allow you to get the most out of your party. Instead, you’re left to mindlessly move a marker across each battlefield as your AI party has all the fun.

If Adventure Academia had understood the assignment, the story would have been a little more exciting, and the systems wouldn’t be so disjointed.

Score:
5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.