Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent Review (Switch)
Release Date: December 9, 2022
File Size: 2.3GB
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Strategy RPGs are a dime a dozen on the Nintendo Switch, each showing their own colors in fun ways. The freedom of creating your own team and figuring out the best strategy to take down an opponent, especially when the cards are stacked against you, is one of the best feelings. Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is unfortunately, not one of those strategy games. In fact, it seems to do everything to encourage you not to enjoy the game.
Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent opens up its story pretty quickly, dropping you right in on the action. The school is under attack by monsters and you have to help defend the building using the help of your students. The onslaught is eventually defeated and you have a moment to regroup. You play as Alex, a young man who has recently inherited the Ruler Orb from his father, who has mysteriously gone missing.
With very little preamble, Alex decides to go searching for his father, bringing along his two friends to help, as well as a group of students to fight at his whim. Past this, the story is very surface level, as the quest morphs into finding pieces of the Ruby Orb, which the Ruler Orb is a small part of. You’ll meet other NPCs from neighboring schools and regions, each with their own personalities.
The writing is your typical anime video game plot: you have your big overarching mission, and in order to complete it, you must travel to different regions collecting parts of a special item (parts of the Ruby Orb in this case). There are some side quests that you can play through, but much like the main story, the writing is one-note. There is a lot of fluff with little substance. The only upside is that the story doesn’t linger around too long, choosing instead to pass through scenes quickly to let you get to the next battle.
Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is a strategy RPG where you can build out a team of students and send them out into battle. As you defeat enemies and win battles, you’ll gain gold, experience, and SP, all of which can be used to build out your units and make them stronger. You can build out your team as you like with different character archetypes, from healer to melee.
The best way to describe Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent’s combat would be reverse tower defense. The enemy has a monument that you need to destroy in order to win the battle. But for you, if you die in battle, you lose. And since your character can’t attack or defend themself, you need to play battles safely while also making sure to take down enemies before the timer runs out. Battles take place on a grid-based map and you have to move your characters from your starting position all the way to the enemy’s monument.
As time passes, you gain MP. MP is used to rank up your units, which powers them up. The best strategy is to power up Alex until he hits the max rank of 5, because this results in doubling the amount of MP you regenerate per second. Ranking up your units will increase their power, giving them more HP to take more hits. MP can also be used for skills, with each character having their own skill. But given that you’ll find your units falling like flies in later battles, it’s hard to actually make use of those skills at times unless you’re hanging back and waiting for MP to recharge.
In the beginning, there is a max imposed on the amount of units you can have out at one time. But as you progress in battle, you’ll be able to summon more units. There are several types of units that you can make use of, such as melee, ranged, and healers. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your play style. Units will auto attack any enemy that is nearby (with the exception being healers who, obviously, heal).
At the end of each region of Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent, there will be a boss battle. Boss battles are straightforward, in that you have to defeat the boss in order to win. However, boss battles are where a lot of the frustration with the game lies. Bosses hit hard and fast, two things that aren’t good for the main character. The main character tends to move slowly, even using the skill that he has that can boost movement speed. Along with that, a boss can easily take down the main character with two hits of its special attack. With this combination, it makes charging into battle risky, with the game seeming to want the player to play the long game of charging and retreating. The fact that the only thing that makes boss battles difficult is your defenseless main character, who can’t be upgraded or improved upon in any way, takes what could have been an okay strategy game and makes it a slog to get through.
As your student characters are the ones going into battle and fighting against enemies, you’ll want to stay on top of upgrading their equipment and enhancing their stats. Each student has their own equipment that they can use. However, with each upgrade (whether you are purchasing or enhancing gear), the cost of equipment jumps substantially. If you want to keep all of your units up to date, you’re going to have to grind for gold. What if you don’t want to grind for gold for equipment and just want to upgrade your units’ stats and classes? You can do that using SP. Oh, but with each increase, you’ll need a lot more SP and in order to get more SP, you’ll need to grind.
Is grinding necessary? If you want to sweep through enemies without constantly having to keep on top of who’s surviving and making tactical retreats so that swarms of enemies aren’t taking you down quickly, then yes. The cost of better equipment and course upgrades is honestly outrageous when you consider how much gold and SP you’re receiving per battle. Adding to the frustration, the recommended levels make sense in the first area, but from that point onwards, you’ll start seeing jumps in the recommended levels. And if you want to reach that recommended level before taking on that new mission, guess what? You need to grind.
Despite the fact that you have to keep the main character alive in order to win battles, there isn’t a way to upgrade the main character, only your students. You can’t even change Alex’s equipment to give him higher defense or speed. It just ends up with a situation where it feels like the answer to all of your problems is just to endlessly grind until you can afford better equipment, better courses, and have a much higher level than the recommended one. But that grinding may not even save you if you happen to make the wrong move and watch your main character die to the boss.
The main school acts as your base where you can do multiple things to upgrade your team. You can manage your team layouts, upgrade your characters, purchase new equipment, recruit new students, along with other miscellaneous things. It’s recommended to make a majority, if not all, of your recruitment from the beginning to cut down on any grinding that needs to be done later. When you recruit a new student, they start off at level 1, with no way to quickly get them up to level with the rest of your units. This ends up making it harder to want to experiment with different layouts, since a unit needs to participate in battle in order to level up.
Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is pretty standard with both its music and its art. During cutscenes, the story is told in a visual novel-esque way, using 2D anime character sprites for each of the characters. The designs themselves are fine, although don’t do anything too daring to make the characters stand out compared to other games. During battles, characters take more of the appearance of game pieces, adding a cute aspect to the game that does set it apart visually from other games. The stages are bright and while a lot of the stages in the same region do blend together, they are nice to look at.
The controls do take a bit of time to get used to, but otherwise Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent performs fine. The only thing that would have been nice is if you could drag and drop characters using the directional pad as opposed to the joystick. On the flip side, one thing that was really nice and did help to make battles pass by quicker was the addition of a 2x speed that can be toggled on and off. Of course, during intense battles, this can make battles a lot more intense than expected.
Overall, Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is an interesting game that is held back by its gameplay. It appears as though the answer to everything related to upgrading and bringing in new characters is grinding, but since there is little variety in how battles play out, this just means mindlessly going through the same battle over and over again for miniscule returns. Allowing players to upgrade Alex in any sort of way would have helped to take away any frustration during later battles in the game.
While a cute game and utterly non-offensive in terms of its writing, there isn’t much reason to take a chance with this title in its current form. There are plenty of other strategy RPGs to partake in that handle both the strategy and the RPG elements much better than this title.