School can be a challenging time for any student. Whether just entering the school system as a young elementary schooler or dealing with the stresses of college, starting a brand new year can be tough. Imagine how much more difficult school life would be if a giant Kraken appeared asking people to save the school from destruction. In Kraken Academy, this is the scenario and we’re the only ones who can save the school, but should we take up the mantle?
The protagonist plays as a young high school student who has just enrolled in Kraken Academy along with their sister, Nadia, and right off the bat, Nadia is illustrated as being the perfect sibling. She’s a part of the distinguished Drama Club, is wearing a much nicer uniform than the player’s, and even if their mother is saying she loves them both equally, there’s something in the way that she talks that seems to say otherwise.
From there the protagonist is dumped off at school and must start their first day at Kraken Academy in the Music Club. Players will meet several new “friends” who seem less than enthused for a new person to be joining the club. Speaking with them, the player learns of a student that was in the club previously who was doing work for the Kraken. What luck, our protagonist ends up taking that role for themself! Kraken Academy is in danger, and we, as protagonist, must do everything we can to stop the destruction and find the traitor behind the horrendous plot.
The story of Kraken Academy is linear, despite initial impressions that players may be able to explore as wished from the get-go. Players are locked out of the other clubs until they can purchase the keys to each gate. As they complete the specific mission in a club’s area, they can unlock the next area, with up to four clubs to explore including the beginning Music Club. Along with the main story quest, there are side quests that can be taken up as well.
The writing for Kraken Academy is definitely its strong point, with lots of lively characters and fun plot points to explore. Despite the fact that the school is facing its doom in just the span of a couple of days, everyone is in high spirits and there’s lots of drama to watch unfold. While the amount of strange antics and humor may turn some people off, those looking for a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously will find themselves having a good time.
Kraken Academy is not a serious game and as such, has many wacky characters that make an appearance. Given the short nature of the game and the vast number of characters that players will be able to speak to, a lot of the characters are pretty much tropes, but in the context of the game, that’s not a bad thing in the least. If coming into this game just looking for a good time and fun characters to interact with, Kraken Academy delivers on that front.
If looking to get closer with some characters, there are side quests that allow players to learn a little bit more about specific characters, such as the four other members of the Music Club. With some of the quests, players may even be taken off school grounds and be able to see other sides of the characters they wouldn’t otherwise see.
Kraken Academy is an adventure game where players walk around and interact with objects and characters, as well as solve puzzles as they appear along the way. There are a handful of puzzles in the game each related to remembering certain patterns, icons, or gathering the correct information. Each puzzle is different from the rest, so it never feels repetitious. If anything, it may feel as though each puzzle is wildly different from the rest. In one timeline, players will be in the middle of an amateur court case, while in another, they’re moving around to avoid security cameras in order to escape an abandoned barn.
During certain interactions, the character may be asked to perform specific tasks such as performing with an instrument. In order to gauge whether players successfully complete these tasks, the game will throw a quicktime event at them. There are two types of quicktime events to complete: one related to hitting the button at the correct time so that the cursor lands in the middle of the gauge while the other involves button mashing until a bar is filled completely. Depending on how well these quicktime events are performed, players will either pass or fail the task. The quicktime events are pretty generous in how easy they are.
The game doesn’t truly start to unfold until speaking to the Kraken, who gives a strange relic that has the power to travel back in time. Players can only go back in time and are locked into a span of three days, with six different points of time (mornings and evenings) that the protagonist can time travel from or to. Honestly, there isn’t much reason to time travel outside the ending points of missions in the main story quest. It’s very easy to clear through the main missions of each section if observant and good with time management, but if you do end up not being able to clear missions the first time, you can always reset.
Kraken Academy takes place over the span of three days and at the end of the third day, the school will collapse under a combination of intense earthquakes, fire, and monstrous alligators. As such, there are only three in-game days to solve the mysteries of each club and save the animal spirit associated with each club. The general loop involves players arriving at a new club, speaking with all the club members, and locating the club member that needs to be helped in order to free the animal spirit before the three days are up, and then going back in time once the mission is complete to repeat the cycle with the next club. While this sounds repetitive, it feels that way, too. The variety between each club, the missions, and the characters does just enough to lessen the blow.
In order to unlock the keys to the other clubs, players will need to purchase those keys from Stix’s Shack. To get money, otherwise known as shlotinki, players need to collect bottles and turn them in for money. Bottles can be found by hitting trash cans and garbage bins with a bat. We can turn those bottles into any BottleMachine around the campus (the currency rate is a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning 1000 bottles is 1000 shlotinki). Players can also save at any SaveSnackMachine, however, at least 1 shlotinki is needed in order to save. After a while, you don’t even need to bother with gathering bottles, as the keys don’t get more expensive, and all bottle gathering spots respawn when you go back in time.
As progression is made in the story, players will unlock the ability to do side quests. As mentioned earlier, when deciding to time travel, players will lose any progress made during any of these quests, and if a side quest was completed for a character in one timeline, they won’t retain their memories once going back in time; any friendship medals that you do earn will remain. If pursuing a quest, it’s best to finish it before going back in time. Players can go back in time whenever they want, but any characters spoken to will reset to their first conversation point again. Players do get to keep any items that they’re currently holding.
Most of the quests in Kraken Academy are fetch quests and as such, players are going to have to remember which characters want which items. To make things slightly more difficult, players also must remember where specific characters are on specific days, as there are some days where characters won’t accept items to progress their quest. Keep in mind that if giving a character an item, and not continuing their quest line, but then going back in time, players will need to recollect that item and start the quest all over again.
Kraken Academy is not a difficult game. It’s definitely a story game first and foremost. Quicktime events can be set to either easy or normal, but those events aren’t difficult to master. There are other mini games that can be played as well during play through, but once again, players can choose whichever difficulty they would like, so for players just looking to play for the story who don’t want to worry about being held up due to not being great at the minigames, they are in luck in that department.
The only caveat is the final boss battle is a bit out of left field since there is no other battle like it. In fact, there aren’t any battles for the player to face up until the very end. If players find themselves bad at dodging, they’ll find some frustration from this final obstacle.
The pixel art for Kraken Academy is very simplistic at first glance but holds a lot of detail that really brings attention to the rundown nature of the school. Kraken Academy is rough around the edges with cracks littering the buildings and structures, tattered flags flowing in the breeze, and even a broken fountain in the common area. The pixel art and the color palette definitely work in the game’s favor.
The character sprites are cute, setting apart each character apart. Each character has multiple expressions that switch depending on the situation. The UI is also sleek and nice to look at. One thing that instantly caught my attention was the fact that the text took up a reasonable amount of space compared to how big the text box was. Typically, text seems to run a bit small in games, so seeing the opposite was a nice change of pace.
Music and Voice Acting
The music for Kraken Academy is just as wild as the characters and plot, with a range of vibrant happy tracks and slow mysterious tunes. Some tracks are more memorable than others, especially since some areas may not be returned to after completing the main mission, or some songs only play during specific key moments.
There is some voice acting, although the majority of it is just phrases and other general noises whenever a character is interacted with. From the small amount of voice lines, each character’s voice fit the character they were portraying.
Kraken Academy is a fun adventure to partake in. The gameplay runs along the easier side when it comes to the mini games and small puzzles to be solved, with the exception of the last portion of the game. Keeping track of all the side quests and which days to give specific items over can also be a bit overwhelming.
The writing is Kraken Academy’s strong point, with a variety of characters and a whole lot of jokes to keep players entertained. The art and music add to the character of the game, leaving the player fully enthralled by the experience. This is definitely an indie title to check out if given the chance.