Attack on licensed anime games.
It was well over a year after the original run of the “Attack on Titan” anime ended that I finally got around to checking it out.
This was after numerous recommendations from friends, many claiming it to be the best new anime series in recent years.
While I found it an enjoyable watch, I wouldn’t say that it’s one of my favorites, especially considering that the story is largely untold with the second season likely looming in the unseen horizon.
Still, knowing what “Attack on Titan” is all about, it feels natural that they would make a game about it.
What I didn’t realize was that they would task the folks at “Spike Chunsoft”, best known for visual novel series like 999/VLR and Danganronpa for the job, which seemed like an odd choice.
The result is a game that succeeds in feeling authentic to the source material, but fails in being a fun and interesting to play.
Platform: 3DS (Digital only)
Voice Acting: JPN only
Multiplayer: Up to 4 players- online/local
Demo Availability: N/A
Length: 6-8~ hours for single player, more with multiplayer content
The story mode of “Humanity in Chains” takes the perspective of multiple iconic characters from the series like Eren, Mikasa, Armin and Levi. The mission structures vary from taking down a certain number of titans, item collection or horse riding to even titan on titan bouts.
The mission variety is nice touch, but unfortunately the only activity that’s remotely interesting is taking down titans as a human. Other mission types like item collection that plagued Sasha’s campaign felt like an absolute chore, as I scoured the ground for shining items while avoiding confrontations with infinitely spawning army of titans.
The story missions are often punctuated by clips taken directly from the anime, and all the characters seemed to be voiced by the VAs from the show, which made the game feel authentic from a presentation standpoint.
The use of the ODM gear, terrain and tools felt right as well.
Quickly zipping between trees and buildings was the only way to get around, but the ODM gear could run out of gas, which needed to be refilled. On the open fields, the ODM gear was nearly useless, and without riding on a horse it would be impossible to outrun a titan. The blades would weaken over time and break entirely after too many strikes and needed to swapped out after a few good swings, just like in the anime.
Many of the more tense moments were also escalated through the use of music straight from the anime series.
There’s a certain consistency to the source material which is important when it comes to dealing with licensed material and I feel Spike Chunsoft have done an excellent job in that regard.
Unfortunately, that’s where the praise for this title ends.
From a visual standpoint, the game is full of jagged character models and bland environments. Sure, it’s a 3DS game but I feel more could’ve been done to hide the technological limitations using clever art design.
The animations of the characters and titans in motion were quite clunky, with far away titans being the worst offenders as they didn’t fully animate properly until they were within striking distance.
The attacks look flashy enough, but actually executing them was a simple, timed QTE which determined whether or not I landed a critical hit.
Most of the titans could be felled in two attacks- a hit to the face or another part of the body and the back of the neck for the finishing blow.
The circle radius for the critical strike increased based on successful hits landed previously, but the speed at which they moved changed radically based on the distance I was to the titan, which made timing the hits feel a bit awkward at times. There is also only two types of slashing attacks available, and while the spinning attack proved invaluable for frontal assaults, I felt the overall process of taking down a titan was too simple and lacking in depth.
The L trigger to lock on and reset the camera was a very important tool, but playing with the old 3DSXL, I had to use the D-pad to adjust the camera manually at times, which was quite the hassle.
Given that the vast majority of the experience revolves around taking on titans, it’s really a shame that the combat lacks complexity and becomes wholly unsatisfying after the first few kills.
Lastly, there’s a multiplayer focused mode that unlocks after a handful of story missions that allows for the creation of an original character that can be used to tackle a whole different set of missions, either solo or with up to three friends via local/online connection.
It’s nice that there’s an online mode but it’s a bit of a grindy affair- collecting items and money to upgrade facilities and creating new items while doing the same type of missions as the ones presented in the story mode.
It’s evident after playing through Humanity in Chains that the developers at Spike Chunsoft understand the world of Attack on Titan. They just weren’t successful in creating a fun game based around it.
Fun Tidbit: At the very least, it did make me want to re-watch the anime again. Seriously, where is that second season, though?
Review copy of game provided by publisher.