Sometimes a game comes out that’s just so out there and so fun it is hard to not laugh and enjoy it. And earlier this year I got to play an extended demo for Kraken Academy. And I fell in love with the atmosphere and direction that Happy Broccoli Games. For their first game, they focused on extraordinary school life at an unusual school. And the demo left me in stitches and craving more.
That is why, when the full game launched I couldn’t wait to get into the full week of what to expect from the game. And having gotten to play the game in its entirety I had a unique experience with it. And that’s why I can’t wait to give you all my full thoughts on this review for Kraken Academy!
A/N: I wanted to get this out sooner to give my love to the team, however, due to starting a new job and changing schedules; it took a lot of adjustment. And just wanted to let that be known. I had been working on this for a while but due to some inconsistent schedules, it was hard to get to it when I had planned. So thank you again Happy Broccoli!
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD: While I will keep some parts of the story hidden, there will be some spoilers to the main story. Read at your own discretion
When the game starts, we are introduced to the main character or MC, along with his mother and sister. They are off to their first day at the illustrious Kraken Academy. A school with very well-known clubs and a not-so-great reputation. Here the mc it told that he will be joining the music club, the smallest and poorest of all the clubs. While the players’ super talented and snobby sister, Nadia, is joining the drama club. A club of rich kids with an even richer tuition fee.
And it’s this interaction alone that goes to set the town of the game. The mother is willing to spend everything on the sister while the mc gets some hand-me-downs. And upon arriving at school is swiftly kicked out of the car as their mother drives off. Upon approaching the school we see a student chasing after a hobo guy for stealing his phone. After a short argument, the janitor jumps the student and they start fighting next to a burning car. During the fight, a teacher says to break it up before jumping into the fight herself. I was left in stitches as I watched this unfolding as a young girl, made of broccoli, came along to guide me to the school itself.
Meeting the Kraken:
After a short run, and being shaken down by the janitor and groundskeeper, Stix; the mc makes it to class just barely on time. Here they are introduced to quite a few of the other club members and supporting class. Here I was given the chance to name the mc as I wanted. And I named him Ryhs. After a hi-jinks-filled intro, I finally met the Kraken himself. Upon meeting him, while trying to find a Halloween costume, I was told I needed to become his disciple to save the school.
With visions of the school destroyed and on fire, and students being eaten by alligators (which made me laugh); I was given the Kraken’s amulet. With the ability to time-travel, I was able to restart my school week as many times as needed to release the club guardians. Spirits that oversaw each club that was founded in their honor.
And it is here where the game really opens up. With sidequests abound you are able to meet and befriend your fellow classmates. And as you progress you unlock and are able to join the other clubs for a day like the Art Club or the PE club. All while rescuing the spirits of each club.
This all leads to a confrontation with the traitor, a student housing the spirit of the drama club, none other than Nadia! And it’s revealed the reason she worked so hard and betrayed many was because she wanted to be rich. To be able to pay for her tuition to be with her rich friends, who helped to save and said they’d help her with tuition, that true friends stand by each other.
Who is the traitor?
After this heartwarming scene, the real traitor is revealed in a twist. That while there are currently only 4 clubs at the academy, there was actually a 5th club: The Science club. And it turns out the headmaster is actually the spirit of the science club in a human form. He reveals he took over the academy because the other spirits were going to cut his club after an experiment that destroyed the school. They blamed him for not protecting the students that were lost in the incident. However, Beser’al felt betrayed and hurt. He was mourning the loss of his students and having his club and everything taken from him. So he sought to get revenge by using Nadia to help destroy the school. So he could rebuild it with only a science club.
Upon this revelation, the spirits realize they were all in the wrong to push him away. And that cutting the club did nothing but hurt the students as well as their friend. So they vowed to work together to bring the club back and make sure all the clubs were equally funded. And so after many resets the crazy first week of school, officially passed and the player officially starts school. And after some persuading, we are given a statue to our greatness and a party for the school.
Sidequesting and Friends:
The team did an amazing job with showing so much humor, hijinks, randomness, as well as heart with its story! Whether that’s helping our friend broccoli girl come to terms with her break-up after being turned into broccoli; or helping out Nikolai bake a cake for his friend Stanislav’s birthday. Heck, the player even helps Dimitri, a PE club member learn bear martial arts to go fight bears in the woods. One of my favorite sidequests was helping the bottle machines, which act as currency, start a revolution for freedom.
There is simply so much heart that it was hard for me to not love the story. And it is because of that I so highly praise it. While I wish it was longer, I think it was the right length for the story it told. That is why I give it a well-deserved 9 out of 10!
Kraken Academy has such a wonderful art style that is easy and complex. By that I mean the majority of the game is all a pixelated adventure in the style of old 16-bit games. Not necessarily more detailed like 64-bit. But that doesn’t mean that the art is lacking. The characters and look are complemented by the very well-done art of each of the characters. From having beautifully detailed character pictures you get the sense of each personality you interact with. From their excitement and happiness to their gloom and sadness, and to their anger or frustration at times.
And the thing is everyone gets a profile picture, even Wendy’s horse beefcake. While he may be stoic this horse has seen some things. But every person you meet feels real and has a range of emotions on display. Even the Kraken, without having a face has plenty of ways to show his feelings.
It’s hard to not love when a team can bring out so much emotion and fun in “low-res” graphics yet still have beautiful illustrations. For the Visuals and art in the game, I give a 10 out of 10.
The audio in Kraken Academy is probably the one area, where I could say it was truly minimalistic. Mainly using the music in the background. And in some conversations, the odd grunt, laugh or gasp. But there really isn’t a need to use a lot of sounds when they are using text to speak.
But that doesn’t mean to not make more use of it. However, they do make use of it to a great extent to create a wonderful atmosphere. With some catchy tunes and dance music sequences, and even a rock concert it’s hard to not enjoy it at times. Though, I do wish there was more to speak on the audio. While it is used to great effect, it still is only left as background noise. For this, I give it a 9 out of 10.
Now the gameplay in Kraken Academy is one of the pieces of the game that’s simple and fun. It doesn’t do anything too crazy, acting similar to a standard adventure game. There are QTE segments with characters in part to their friend “dates” or as part of a quest and storyline. In one instance there was a race against Wendy and Beefcake, where the player gets to ride a Goat and it was fun rising the Keys to race this goat down the highway.
Outside of some QTE segments, there is some puzzle elements; as some of the Outfits and costumes you acquire throughout the game are needed to open new areas and unlock secrets. The only big change in the gameplay part was during the boss battles, which do not occur until way late in the story.
Now it was a very simple approach and nothing that was too complex and demanding, which made it easy to get into. And that allows the game to be easily experienced by anyone if they wish. While the puzzles were a bit out there, it wasn’t too hard to figure them out.
Day and Night:
The biggest part was the day cycle. As certain quests and events only happen on certain days at certain times, if you miss it or manage time poorly you gotta time travel. Which is where the amulet comes into play. Allowing you to reset your progress back to the beginning of the week. Luckily, there are some items you pick up on later days during different quests that are needed elsewhere. Sometimes for a quest 4 days before, so it’s a good thing anything you pick up stays in your inventory.
Just like with the audio, having an easy and simple gameplay loop was enough to keep me invested. I liked the approach to simplicity and fun and it made it all the more enjoyable. I give the gameplay a 9 out of 10!
Kraken Academy was so much fun and was an enjoyable experience from start to finish. While working through the game I kept trying to guess who the traitor was and would randomly jump around like, oh what about this person, though deep down I had a feeling who the traitor was the entire time. I loved being right! Though it did have twist I didn’t expect which kept me on my toes for sure. I loved the side quests and getting to know my classmates; when I went back in time I forgot that they didn’t know me and was startled at first by the attitude or suspicion of me. Overall, I loved, loved, loved this game. Anyone who hasn’t played it yet….what are you waiting for?!