Ah the mythical tale of the favorite sibling. Your parents will try to convince you it just isn’t true, but you know better. Your sister practically gets away with murder, while you get grounded for a week just for getting a B- in Math. That’s precisely the sort of injustice our main character is facing in the weird, yet wonderful adventure Kraken Academy from Happy Broccoli Games.
We meet our protagonist as he, his mother, and his sister are dropping him off at school for the first time. His sister (who I assume is older as she’s already been going there) is enrolled in the “nice” club, otherwise known as the Drama club filled with rich, privileged students while he is enrolled in the Music club, a run down garbage riddled shanty. Sure mom, you love us equally… But, it’s because of the crazy new surroundings that our dear protag explores the grounds a bit more and runs into the infamous Kraken, a grumpy, all-seeing demon. Who then proceeds to mention that in three days there will be a cataclysmic event unless the four currently trapped school spirits can be rescued and released. What’s a freshman to do but exactly wherever the heck that giant demon octopus is asking of you!!?? So, with that, let’s dive in head first and see if this time loop trip around the school is all it’s kraken-ed up to be!
Kraken Academy was released a little over a year ago and I’ve definitely seen it pop up in my suggestions many times. It was a game I felt would be the funnest to play with Patrick so I always held off on it. We watched the trailer a bunch and always put it on the list of potentials when selecting which game(s) to play next, but somehow it always got picked over. There wasn’t anything inherently unappealing about it by any means, it was just one of those cases of too many good games to play and too little time. Well, thankfully it’s time finally rolled around as we were in the mood for a short, simple, and goofy game to play and guess who was the perfect candidate?!
As an adventure game you can’t really ask for more than what Kraken Academy lays out for you. It’s not a game that takes itself seriously at all and you will definitely have to deal with some tidbits of dark humor but, personally we were all about it. The story was weird but it all came together as needed and I think that is half the fun for a game like this. Since it is a time loop scenario you’ll be revisiting a lot of things time and time again but at no point does it feel rinse and repeat. Each time loop presents you with a fresh new batch of mysteries to unfold in a new area of the school. While you certainly can repeat previous events if you like, it certainly isn’t necessary and since your time is quite limited you really have to hustle to get the current events all figured out. There are a few missable side quests but for the most part if you weren’t quick enough on the draw finding a particular item, or didn’t have enough money or something, you can still do it regardless of which story sequence you are in.
All of the characters are really creative and likable, whether you’d be friends with them in real life is another story. Each adds their own quirky flavor to the pot and it was really fun seeing them interact with each other. You are given dialogue choices from time to time and the “right” answer isn’t always obvious even if you have been aptly paying attention to the many personal details thrown your way. There are also quick time events that will either save your bacon or fry it to charcoal depending on how good you are at QTEs. For instance you can have no idea what the answer is to a question but a QTE will pop up and, if you were successful, will at least allow the main character to BS his way through the conversation/situation. Thankfully you aren’t inundated with quick time events the entire game and can generally see them coming a mile away. They aren’t timed either which is super nice. The cursor will pass back and forth over the good, great, perfect, and fail gradients endlessly until you hit the button. These are my kind of QTEs! I’m still not good at them but I’ll take those any day of the week over the 5 nanosecond ones that will randomly smack you in the face mid cut scene and then ruin the entire story path you had going up until that point. I’m looking at you Dark Pictures anthology!!!
Overall I’d say Kraken Academy was exactly what I was looking for in my most recent game search. It had great art, both pixel and portrait, some catchy tunes, and a crazy cast of characters. Each portion of the story was fun to work through and figure out what nonsense shenanigans you’d have to square away in order to rescue the captured spirit. Really it was the small details that had the biggest impact like getting a Kraken-book page for every new person you met, allowing you to see even deeper into each of their ridiculous personas. Or the variety of costumes you can change into at any time, that will also show up in the portrait art as you talk to people!
Really my only complaints are small things as well, such as the bottle collecting for money starts out fun but quickly gets tedious the more you have to do it , and you’ll have to do it a lot! Also, you tend to get stuck on the environment really easily which is frustrating when you are in a hurry trying to get from one point of the map to another, on time. Maybe it’s karma that I keep getting stuck on all the dumpsters and trash cans I’ve busted open looking for bottle money, but to be fair it was encouraged at the very beginning of the game. Resident heartthrob Broccoli Girl even gave me a baseball bat to use for just that purpose after all!!
We both really enjoyed our time with Kraken Academy and give it two big demonic tentacles…I mean thumbs UP! With really only a few minor gameplay hiccups to speak of we found it to be a satisfying adventure well worth the short eight-ish hours we put into it. So, if a short and sweet, yet wonderfully wacky game is what you’re in the market for then Kraken Academy is a great suggestion to help scratch that itch!