What would you do if a gigantic magical Kraken gave you an amulet and told you to keep living the same three-day time loop to save the world? Yeah, the protagonist isn’t sure either. And with that, welcome to Kraken Academy!! The debut outing of Happy Broccoli Games, it’s published by Fellow Traveller studios. But is it worth the weirdness?
The plot is a little more involved, but the gist is a groundhog day time loop that you, the self-named protagonist, are stuck in. Repeating the loop you must free the four guardian spirits of the school and then discover and defeat the traitor who wants to burn the school to the ground. Along the way, you can befriend a number of different characters, destroy objects around the school, and generally cause mayhem in the name of, well, stopping mayhem. Part of the trouble is that the school itself is naturally in a constant state of chaos. Most of the campus is falling apart, you’re extorted to pay for a pass to get in the door, one of your classmates is a sentient piece of broccoli and another one is constantly riding her horse. Constantly. Still, the silliness has a mostly satisfying conclusion that’s worth playing through 6 or so hours to get to.
The characters are an interesting lot, though most are fairly one-dimensional. Music Club, which the protagonist is a part of at the beginning, consists of an over-the-top conspiracy theorist, a grouchy girl always wearing a giraffe suit, a self-obsessed boy with a fan club who dodges attempts to trick him into marriage proposals, and the aforementioned sentient piece of broccoli. Highlights of the other students and faculty include a pastiche of Bob Ross for the art teacher who homes a bird in his hair, a prodigy dog, and a stereotypical Russian boy who is always wanting to fight bears. No one is deep or fleshed out, but their bizarreness is still entertaining. It’s clear from the plot and the characters that you’re not meant to think too hard while you’re playing the game.
While you’re at Kraken Academy you’ll be required to solve a number of puzzles before the end of the world. Each Club at school has a guardian spirit and there is a quest to undertake to free each of the four of them. There’s enough challenge and difference between the quests to make them all interesting in their own right, they’re not just copy-pastes of each other. However, those looking for a challenge would do well to look elsewhere, as the game is meant to be more on the side of weirdness than difficulty. As a side note, this game treats clubs the same way most schools would treat majors, and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a mistranslation or if Germany is just weird like that.
Kraken Academy!!’s main draw is its humor, which is very much in the vein of absurdism. But what if it doesn’t click? I admit I barely laughed when I played through, apparently, German absurdism is different than the British variety I’m used to. Is it still worth it? It’s still a fairly entertaining game even if you don’t connect with it, and the puzzles are a nice diversion if you’re looking for something that isn’t too challenging.
The art style of Kraken Academy!! is particularly fun, as the semi-detailed pixel aesthetic fits well with the campus being completely run down. Its lack of detail translates to detail itself. However, the anime character portraits are where the art really steps up, showing both the ridiculousness of most of the character designs as well as the bright, colorful side to the situation.
Kraken Academy!! Is an odd duck of a game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While its particular brand of absurdist humor isn’t for everyone, those who do enjoy it will be delighted by this trip into the unknown. And for the rest of us, it’s still a fun diversion if you’re looking for a fairly relaxing game with puzzles that aren’t too challenging and an unusual story to follow through. Of course, this assumes you don’t mind being the stooge of a giant sea monster living in the lake out back of a boarding school, but that’s just the basics.
TechRaptor reviewed Kraken Academy!! on PC with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Bright Anime and Pixel Artwork
- Light, Easy Puzzles
- Peculiar Sense of Humor