Kraken Academy!! – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game
Developer: Happy Brocolli Games
Publisher: Fellow Traveler
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Kraken Academy!! – Review

Site Score
Good: Fantastic story filled with quirky characters and great jokes
Bad: Very shallow gameplay experience
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Whether it’s the absolute nonsense of DEEEER Simulator or the story-driven approach of About an Elf, we’ve certainly seen quite a bit of outright weird games over the past few months. Joining this lineup of loveable quirkiness is Kraken Academy!!, a top-down adventure title from Happy Broccoli Games. We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we saw the game’s opening sequence but now that we’ve spent some time with this crackin’ tale, we’re here to tell you whether or not you should release the Kraken on your platform of choice.


The first cutscene, which resembles the opening sequence of an anime episode, already gives away that Kraken Academy!! isn’t going to offer an everyday story. Once you get to the actual game, everything starts out normal enough, with you being dropped off at your new school by your mom, alongside your bratty sister. Things quickly take a turn for the weird when you run into your first new friend, an anthropomorphic piece of broccoli, fittingly named Broccoli Girl. Your budding friendship with this humanized vegetable is the starting point for Kraken Academy!!’s narrative. Broccoli Girl introduces you to the other members of the music academy, and they decide that you don’t just need to come to their party, but that you need a fitting party outfit as well. The quest for this outfit leads you to a lake where the titular Kraken resides. It grants you an amulet that allows you to rewind time, which becomes the key to solving a mystery that threatens to destroy the school. Of course, it’s up to you to prevent this from happening. We’re not going to delve into spoiler territory any further, but rest assured, what awaits you is a quirky adventure, filled with video game references, an outlandish cast of NPCs, and some genuinely funny jokes.

Developer Happy Broccoli Games clearly prioritized story over gameplay here, and Kraken Academy!! certainly delivers on this front. Admittedly, appreciating Kraken Academy!! requires you to put aside real-world logic and simply accept whatever the game throws at you as normal. This is a world where broccoli is sentient and where a Kraken is the guardian of a school, and if you’re not prepared to accept this, then this isn’t going to be a game for you. Should you decide to open your mind to the weird and wonderful world of Kraken Academy!!, then you’ll find one of the best-written and funniest adventure games in recent years. It’s a shame that the ending isn’t up to par with the high bar that the rest of the game’s writing sets, but despite that, Kraken Academy!!’s story is still worth checking out.


Both the game’s key art and the anime opening sequence set a very high bar for Kraken Academy!!’s visuals, but ultimately, the game fails to deliver. The majority of Kraken Academy!!’s graphics come in the form of pixel art, which we wouldn’t have a problem with if it wasn’t so underwhelming. As we’ve seen with titles like Quest for Infamy, pixel art can look fantastic when done right, but here, environments look bland and character designs are underwhelming. Juxtaposed against the simplistic pixel art are hand-drawn character portraits and these fare a little better, but the contrast with the game’s opening sequence is still too large. Kraken Academy!! starts out strong but can’t maintain its visual momentum, unfortunately.


Kraken Academy!!’s soundscape isn’t quite as underwhelming as the visuals, but it’s not all that impressive either. There is no voice acting, and instead short groans and grunts aim to convey character emotions. It’s better than nothing, of course, but we couldn’t help but feel like this was a missed opportunity to add another layer of life to the cast. The MIDI-style music is great though. It fits with the retro-styled visuals perfectly and elevates the overall Kraken Academy!! experience.


It’s a good thing that Kraken Academy!! is so well-written, as the game doesn’t really have all that much to offer in terms of gameplay. What you get here is a blend of visual novel and top-down adventure, with some QTE minigames thrown in for good measure. Your ultimate aim is of course to solve the game’s overarching mystery and prevent the school from being destroyed, but there are sidequests to be completed, achievements to be unlocked, and NPCs to be befriended. The main issue with the gameplay here, however, is that it feels very shallow. Don’t get us wrong, there is plenty of variety here, as well as a couple of clever ideas, including the time travel mechanic (more on that later), but even the better ideas are only skin deep. Kraken Academy!! features too much variety in its gameplay to cover everything, from Ace Attorney-esque class trials to boss fights, but in terms of gameplay, it’s clearly a matter of quantity over quality here.

A particularly jarring example of how poorly thought out some of the mechanics are comes in the form of how in-game currency is handled. Money is earned by recycling garbage, but for some baffling reason, saving your in-game progress actually costs money. Granted, it’s only a single coin, but this still feels very ham-fisted in the way it’s implemented. Not that there is a whole lot else that you can do with your cash: you’ll either use it to purchase club passes, which are necessary to progress the story, or spend it on cosmetic furniture for your dorm room. There is very little point to doing the latter, however, given that you only spend time in said dorm room to move time forward, and there is no actual use for the furniture.

One of the game’s better elements is the way those aforementioned time travel mechanics are implemented. Depending on which day of the week it is, different events can be witnessed across the academy. You can travel back in time using the aforementioned amulet, and by sleeping in your dorm, you’ll be able to move things forward again. Many of the game’s puzzles are built around time manipulation, and cannot be completed unless you make use of a mechanic. For example, you might not be able to complete an event that takes place on Monday unless you use an item that you can only obtain on Wednesday. It’s a clever little mechanic that can be quite fun initially, but the novelty does wear off after a while, and it inevitably becomes repetitive.

Repetitiveness aside, the time travel mechanics offer perhaps the only modicum of challenge to be found in Kraken Academy!!, as the game’s difficulty level is near non-existent. The puzzles are laughably easy for anyone that has ever played a point-and-click adventure game, and the QTE minigames, which are intended to test your reaction speed, shouldn’t be an issue for most people. When you first start up Kraken Academy!!, you’re asked to choose between two difficulties for these minigames, either ‘easy’ or ‘normal’, but the difference is negligible. There is also a so-called ‘invincible’ mode, which means that you’ll be able to get through the game’s boss fights without any issue, which devalues the meaningfulness of these fights in the first place.


From a sheer mechanical point of view, it’s difficult to recommend Kraken Academy!!. While there is plenty of variety, the gameplay lacks any sort of depth and meaningfulness. Likewise, the underwhelming presentation makes for a rather unattractive game. And yet, we were enamored by the fantastic writing, the wonderful cast, and the clever jokes. Kraken Academy!! definitely isn’t for everyone and we highly recommend giving the demo a go before you commit, but if you’re willing to look beyond the shallow gameplay, you might just find a visit to Kraken Academy is worth your time.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Kraken Academy!! - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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