“When I look down into the abyss, down into the merciless blackness, colder and deeper than Hades itself, there I see the Kraken rising.” – Greig Beck
Kraken Academy mixes an eclectic range of genres, from interactive fiction, dating sim, RPG and adventure games to create an original gaming experience in which the player takes on the role of a new student. They must become the disciple of the school’s resident Kraken, find the traitor and save the academy!
Developer: Happy Broccoli Games
Released: 10th September 2021
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
The game begins with the protagonist on their way to Kraken Academy to begin their education. Soon after arriving the player encounters the Kraken who reveals impending doom in just three days. In that time a traitor must be uncovered, four spirits freed and the whole world saved. Luckily, becoming the Kraken’s disciple enables the player to manipulate a time loop, going back in time leaving found objects and certain actions, such as freeing a spirit, intact!
The narrative is delivered mainly via the dialogue which is very funny in places but comes across as cheesy and stale in others leading to mixed levels of immersion. Some of the jokes felt a bit childish but swearing and items such as a ‘skeleboner costume’ would suggest this is not intended for a very young audience.
There is some nice characterisation, with distinct personalities and dialogues styles but a lot of the characters felt like clichés or stereotypes such as the hot guy that knows it, the British guy that likes tea and the eccentric cave-dwelling ‘hobo-guy’ that verges on offensive. That being said, most of these characters are presented in such an over-the-top way that it matches the energetic and colourful styling as well as the overall quirkiness of the story.
Kraken Academy’s gameplay is incredibly varied and one of the high points of the overall experience. Alongside the dialogue and storytelling aspects, players can also collect currency to decorate their dorm room, explore the school grounds and partake in a range of quick-time events (QTEs) with a couple of different difficulty options. This is all utilised in both the main quests and the various side quests that are available.
The QTEs were used for various things such as answering questions in class, a game of ‘I have never’ and a game of pool. While these did require a small amount of skill they were not challenging and it would have been preferable to have the mechanics be more representative of the task at hand rather than simply trying to press a button at the correct time. However, given the scope of the game and the size of the team creating it, the decision does make sense and is a minor criticism.
Kraken Academy mixes a detailed 2D anime art style for characters during dialogue sections. These elements tend to be the most vibrant and contrast nicely with the slightly muted tones of the pixel art used for the game world and playable environment.
The soundtrack consists mainly of energetic dance tracks that can feel a little obnoxious but mostly suit the themes and style of the game well. A few familiar tunes, such as In the Hall of the Mountain King and Beautiful Dreamer were also utilised for the music in more subdued situations which worked nicely and provided a welcome bit of variation. Apart from the odd line and some sounds like laughs, grunts, and sighs, there is no voice acting but these minimal elements do help give some extra life to the dialogue.
Kraken Academy is something of a mixed bag with its cliché characters and some cheesy dialogue but boasts some fantastic artwork and fun, varied gameplay. Additionally, the narrative is quirky and fits well with the styling and themes. Despite a few flaws, this game is vibrant and enjoyable and easy to recommend to fans of the genre.