Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent

Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent by developer Acquire and publisher PQube—Sony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is an interesting active strategy RPG set in the world from Class of Heroes. Taking cues from both traditional turn based strategy games while implementing them in a more real-time fashion. Will this be enough for you to unite the continent of Pedra, or will the system be as fractured as the continent? It's time to find out.

Adventure Academia follows the story of Alex, a young boy who is the son of the principal of the local school, who's dad has disappeared on an adventure. One day he inherits the Ruler Orb, a sort of staff that allows him to command units as if he were playing a board game. Unfortunately, the previous owner was his father, which means something bad has happened to him! Hence Alex sets off with his childhood friend Citrin and the shut-in researcher who is supposed to be his advisor Lazuli in order to figure out what happened to his father. Unfortunately for everyone involved, strange things are happening on the continent, and it's up to you to solve the mysteries.

Adventure Academia has a pretty unique system in place, one that I found rather enjoyable for the most part. Or at least fresh enough to keep me entertained. The game story is told in pre and post battle snippets and interactions that will happen everytime you choose a stage. Beating a stage unlocks the next subsequent one. A pretty simple setup, with only a few side missions here and there. Note however that the story will play every time you do a stage, not just the first time. Either way, once you begin a stage, you will usually be given the task of "Destroy the target", which is generally a crystal or specific unit, but there are a few bosses.

In combat you have a square grid-based map, with the only default unit being Alex. If you've played any grid-based tactics games, then you will probably realize rather fast that Alex acts as a sort of mobile base camp. Alex can summon units from his party roster of 6 companions to drop onto the field, although not all at once to start.

See, Alex can only drop two units to start, but can be "ranked up" in order to drop more. Alex will generate MP, which is a bit of a global resource for Adventure Academia, where you can use MP to increase your rank when you build up enough, or to cast spells or special actions with. When you rank up a unit, they will get an increase in stats. For Alex, this will increase his maximum MP value, MP generation rate, and number of units that can be set. At Rank 5 you will max out. Other units Rank up similarly, and will gain access to their special skill at Rank 1, which is 5 MP as the baseline.

Something interesting to note is that Alex himself cannot attack. He can move around, be attacked, and use a special buff/healing skill, but otherwise doesn't offer much. What he can do is move and command units. While on a battle map, any time you set a location for Alex to travel to, or pick up/set down a unit, the game will "pause" while you are making a decision. Once the units are down and your location determined, your units will follow Alex along towards his goal, attacking any enemies that come within range on their own. If you have enough MP, you can also get your units to use their specialty skills. Be careful though, as if you take too long or if Alex dies, you lose the stage.

Thankfully, death is not the end. Well, not really. For Alex, it means restarting the stage. For any other unit however, they will simply be unavailable for a period of time and probably lose one Rank, but then you can throw them right back into the action again. In my experience, the time factor isn't much of a concern on story stages, and is only remotely worrying on some of the side quest stages, even if you spend the first few minutes just ranking up Alex and your units. Thankfully the developer included a "speed up time" button, which speeds up the clock, but also hastens all units. You can toggle this on or off at will. This is really handy if you're looking for treasure chests in stages as well, as it lets you zoom around the stage without it being too much of a slog.

As you move around the map, you can grab units from anywhere on the field, but can only place them within a set range from Alex by pinching them and moving them around. This allows for some interesting strategy, as you can wander into an area after setting your units on a group of enemies, then have them moved over to you, or you can box in an enemy with some of your units. Definitely a neat idea. Well, as long as the AI is functioning. See, you don't actually give your units any instructions. You just plop them down and expect them to do what they need to.

While generally this works fine, I did have a few issues with some of my units. For whatever reason, one of my front line units always headed straight behind Alex, away from the action. Not exactly useful in his role, unless I literally dropped him almost right next to the enemies. Another back line unit never engaged unless I forced them too. On the opposite end of the spectrum, my Diabolos unit, a mage-like type, always ran headfirst into the combat. While that...worked sort of, they are a little less healthy than the frontline units, so that could be a little annoying.

So, let's talk about the units you can summon. Each unit has a species, gender, and character traits, as well as unique classes to that species. All units start out as freshman, but will eventually be able to change classes to higher rated options. For example, a human can go through Freshman > Swordsman > Samurai > Sovereign in order of unlocking. Each class has a different unique ability, as well as unit abilities that apply to that unit regardless of current class once unlocked. Unit abilities, and the first time changing to a new class, requires SP which you can earn from clearing stages. You will also earn exp for your units other than Alex, money, and equipment from clearing stages.

Equipment is rather interesting in Adventure Academia. You basically have four stats on your battle units: health, power, action speed, and movement speed. Equipment can either be bought at the store, or found in stages either by clearing them or by opening chests. Equipment earned in a stage has a chance to have an added ability to it, such as a Power boost, that has multiple possible tiers to it. Good luck getting any specifics though, as the "info" about the skill can be very vague.

For instance, the GRD. Power+ skill says "Tier1 GRD PWR boost". Super useful that. If you didn't know what GRD (guard, I think) is, well too bad I guess? The abilities attached to equipment is interesting though, as it means you may favor a lower ranking piece over a higher ranking piece if the skill is good enough. Keep in mind that the units also have levels, and leveling up will also increase your stats.

If you think you've got a nice reserve of cash floating around, you can also head on over to the Lab, where you can enhance equipment up to +9 by shelling out some cash. This only upgrades whatever the basic equipment stat is though, so if you're upgrading a weapon you get Power, not Health for example, regardless of attached skill. By the way, you better remember this stuff either now, or if you play the game when it tells you, because there isn't anywhere you can check the instructions out again. Seriously.

So, let's mention two more gameplay elements before we move into the visual/audio aspects. First up, stages may have hidden switches. These hidden switches become noticeable either by looking at different coloured tiles on the map, or when Alex comes within one panel range of them. The game says you activate them by stepping on them, but what it means is by dropping a unit on them. It's actually a pretty interesting mechanic for exploring and expanding maps.

The second thing I need to mention is the difficulty curve. Or more like, difficulty EKG. You'll notice that each stage has a level suggestion, where bosses and "academy fight" stages have a big jump, and then the difficulty goes back down again. Even when the level suggestion starts going up after these fights, the normal stages still feel a lot easier. When some of the bosses can 2-hit Alex and constantly target him? It's an absolute pain.

On the plus side, the artstyle is rather cute. While the story mode is done in a standard "storyboard JRPG anime cutout" style, in battle you have a more board game like style to the art, where all the units are symbolized with little cardboard drawings on little plastic stands. It really does make it feel really boardgame like. The soundtrack is pretty decent as well, although none of the tracks really make me want to take the game seriously. Coupled with the rather corny and not overly interesting storyline though, this actually makes it seem a lot better, so a positive there.

As a bit of a wrap-up, I would like to mention how incredibly short the game is. Seriously though, there aren't a lot of main stages, and there are few bonus stages. Each stage will take probably somewhere between 3 to 10 minutes to beat, so you aren't looking at anything too lengthy, even if you take time out to over level your units. On the positive side, this means the game doesn't really overstay its welcome. Yeah, it does give some frustration that it really shouldn't.


Overall, Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is a bit of a fractured game itself. With a storyline that isn't particularly gripping, a lack of main content, some frustrating game design choices, and vague instructions and descriptions of how things work at some points, I doubt this title is making any headlines.

That being said, I did actually rather enjoy my time with it. Yes, it definitely could've been a lot better, but it also isn't the worst thing I've ever seen. If you want a fresh take on the turn based tactics, maybe you'll also get some enjoyment here.

Score: 6.5 / 10



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