Academagia: The Making of Mages is an indie title by Black Chicken Studios. It is a life simulation game where it puts players into a situation of a young growing wizard. It plays as a text-based game with a Harry Potter like theme. In fact, the similarities between the Harry Potter world and that of Academagia are plentiful. Many concepts, ideas etc within the game can be seen in parallel to that of the Harry Potter series. If you are in love with the fantasy wizard and magician world, Academagia might be the perfect match for you.
I did mention before that Academagia is a text-based game. Though it does have some artwork and graphics here and there, overall the main gameplay component is in the words itself. I must say the background world details are great. They do have some really nice descriptions of the different places, people so on and so forth. This is seen in how everything new or weird that appears in the game has a story behind it. Such words/objects etc will be highlighted giving players a chance to click on it to learn more.
Still, the details behind the world can only be truly appreciated if you love the game as a whole especially for its gameplay. Else, you will probably not even be bothered with what exactly is there in this fantasy world. The first thing I have to say when I first tried out is that the game is overwhelming. In the character creation process alone you are given an outrageous amount of choices as pertaining to your character traits, abilities so on and so forth. With a passage of description for each special skill, you will spend a rather long time carefully picking the trait that impresses you the most. Getting pass character creation, you are greeted with different choices of tasks to perform each having several sub-decisions to be made. For example you choose to study, but where? You choose to hang out with your friends, where and who?
You do however have the option to read through some tutorial messages left to help you out. Besides that, you can also read the manual of provided with the game. I did briefly read through both the manuals in the game and the pdf they provided but still found myself lost. There were so many things to do, choices to make so what should I do? The game plays like this; you simply have a calendar to decide what you are going to do for the day. There are 3 different timings to do stuff, morning noon and night. Each timing you can decide from a huge range of activities from studying, exploring, training etc. Once you finish planning your activity for the day, you continue. Before you proceed on to the next day, you have to make finer choices as to each of the activities you are about to take. For example where to do that activity, who to do with etc. Once you are done with that and finally proceed, you will be greeted with a summary of what happened at the end of the day with your stats improving etc.
Once in a while you will be greeted with random events. In these events there are choices to be made and consequences to be faced. This comes to frustrating part, everything you do seem to simply go wrong. I’ve played through the game for around 3 to 4 hours and never did I do something right. Perhaps at the start my stats were indeed extremely low thus not being able to do anything. But even after investing in quite a bit of a particular skill and performing a choice pertaining to it left me with nothing but failure. It is frustrating, demoralizing and discouraging. You simply do not know what you should do. There are many spells and skills to learn, but what do they actually do? You increase this and that, do this and that but nothing ever goes right. Thus you or rather I concluded that I am utterly lost within the game.
Once you reach that state where you find yourself lost within the game, you really have no interest to proceed on any further. I did try the next few days continuing to invest in skills stats and whatnots. Still I do not see any effect of that investment of time. The game is simply overwhelming and while that might actually be good, it can backfire should it be too much for the user to take. It is a great world to explore, great text to be read in this case but without knowing what to do or what exactly am I doing, it is hard to appreciate this huge vast world. The question of right or wrong choices do not come to play and shouldn’t at all since it is all based on your life, besides it is a life simulation role playing game. It is more of the question of what these choices you actually made that matters most.
It is interesting to live the life of a wizard. The school itself is very much similar to that you see and read in the Harry Potter series. Fun and exciting at first, even better later but that is only if you can get used to the game. If you enjoy reading an interactive fiction Academagia should be fun. But like always you will often find yourself flipping back to the same old page of failure over and over again. Get pass that and you should do fine. Steep learning curve? Maybe, but is it really worth it? I’m not too sure. Simulating the life of a wizard can be fun, simulating a virtual life can be addictive like the Sims but pair that up with a huge difficulty in getting the hang of the game plus an old school like text-based game it might be a little off the pace.
I’ll recommend it to people who love reading, love text-based games and loves fantasizing over the Harry Potter world. If your passion is not there, I doubt you’ll be able to get pass that huge barrier of not knowing what you are doing and eventually get lost. Get lost and indeed you will want the game to get lost. It is an ambitious game and for what they want to achieve (that of life simulation role playing) the developers does that not too badly with all the huge chunks of text, detailed world, choices etc but to what cost? A simple game can be fun, a complex overwhelming game can be great if done right. But for a complex not too overwhelming game being unpolished, it results in the lack of fun and excitement. Academagia is just that, great details and promises made, but for the average gamer, I doubt they’ll be able to appreciate it.
It is now out as a digital download for the price of $24.95 at Beamdog, GamersGate and Impulse.
- Greatly detailed fantasy world
- Huge amount of choices and decisions to choose from
- Chance of having additional user/developer content through mods (Theres a MODs folder so I assume that customization is available)
- Huge learning curve
- Frustrating learning process. Everything you do seem to not go right and you have no idea what went wrong thus not knowing how to improve.
- Text-based game might be unappealing to the majority of this generation of gamers
Ratings category Storyline is based on the background details and the world the developers created. Graphics based on artwork, the HUD etc (every little graphic present that is). Sound on the background music etc