Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is a relaxed Anime strategy RPG with cool visuals that both kids and adults can enjoy, as long as you aren’t looking for anything particularly hardcore, story or gameplay-wise.
Set in the world of Class of Heroes! – a series of PSP games also published by Acquire – where school kids save the world, you are a character named Alex who looks to do that very thing with characters he drags along on his journey. Interesting obstacles and sets of enemies are set on a board game-like stage, and with magic that you can summon characters (presumably straight out of their classroom) onto the battlefield.
Explaining the story in any more detail would be giving the kid-focused story more credit than it deserves and would likely bore you unconscious, so we’ll cut straight to the important part – the gameplay.
Different to previous games in the series which has first-person turn-based UI with health bars and static character avatars, Fractured Continent is an entirely different beast, with a colorful 3D map where you drag and drop your charming autonomous 2D avatars that bop up and down and from tile-to-tile and need to complete a goal on each map as they move in unison with your main character.
Every new map starts the same way. You have limited energy allowing you the ability to place only two characters on the board and your energy increases at a set rate based on the level of your characters and boosts from defeated enemies. With your increased energy total you can place more characters on the board, level-up the current ones or use your characters’ special moves. if your character is defeated, they sit on a cool-off period before they can be revived again.
The action itself is only somewhat strategic, in the sense that you need to micromanage your characters’ positions on the map as the timer is paused – which amusingly involves picking the characters up by the hand and plonking them down back on the board. It also requires you to know which characters suit which maps best and with a variety of different level designs, encourages you to tinker with your lineups and character types, and this is where the game is at it’s best, with a relaxed grind that doesn’t feel particularly stressful or taxing.
The ability to completely change your approach to each map, whether you challenge yourself by using only two characters for an entire map and use strategic placement and micromanaging of your team to completey boss a level with just two archers or take the opposite approach and have a specific role for everyone in your team or go full blitzkrieg, the possibilities are broad and flexible enough to spend many hours tweaking your team if you give yourself time enough to plunge into the mechanics.
As fun as gameplay is, however, there are some drawbacks with relying on this alone to pull you through to the end. It is possible to fast forward the actions of your characters when you feel that the game is getting repetitive, but forcing the player to pay attention to the placements of your characters’ unintelligent movements (and be unable to program them in manually), can lead to some frustrating supervision.
Ultimately, this brings me back to my opening gambit – Fractured Continent is both a light attempt at gameplay and story, so if you don’t wish to take it too seriously, you can have a good time, but if you do tend to delve into a game’s elements individually as you play them, you won’t be able to ignore how shallow its elements are.
As example of this is the integration of the story and gameplay which is almost laughably thin, as the team -which you can customize the name, gender and race of – only lives through the action on the battlefield and your upgrades in the menus, so the whole idea that they exist are related to a school and an associated story is quite a stretch.
In fact, apart from the main character, none of the characters that you interact with in the main story actually make an appearance or feature in your team (unless you pay for them as DLC, which might as well mean they don’t exist). Therefore, the story and the gameplay feel like two markedly separate entities.
In a glass half full kind of way, the paper-thin anime-esque story’s cliched characters don’t get in the way of you enjoying the gameplay, but it’s a wasted opportunity for the game to build layers for the characters you actually like. Building bonds between characters in terms of stronger attacks or small interactions would have made the experience far more well-rounded.
With decent core gameplay, but a discardable anime story and minimal depth, Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is a game for casual strategy game fans who want to enjoy some lightweight mechanics without jumping in at the deep end, which – as a fan of this approach myself – there is certainly a market for, but just don’t expect to be wowed in any given area.