Now with slightly less crybaby Armin
If you even have one friend who enjoys anime, odds are you’ve heard of Attack on Titan. As a fan myself it seemed right up my alley, and my weekly anime club ended up giving it a shot last year.
Sadly, I wasn’t impressed. While the premise for Titan is intriguing, there’s an overabundance of filler (even more than your average series) and a lack of worthwhile characters outside of a select few — two key components that made it incredibly difficult for me to enjoy. The few and far between action sequences are great, but I only truly liked the first OVA episode (Ilse’s Notebook), which is the only bit of the show that gave us anything remotely interesting lore-wise.
While the game follows the same low-key narrative, it really does manage to make you feel like you’ve just strapped on a piece of Three-Dimensional Maneuvering Gear, ready to take on the world.
Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains (3DS)
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Released: May 12, 2015
Just like the TV show, you’ll embark upon a campaign that takes place across multiple points of view — Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi, and Sasha. It re-explains the gist of the anime, where humans are under constant threat from mysterious Titans, and have subsequently sealed themselves into cities with giant walls. Thankfully it picks up after Eren, the main super shonen hero has been trained, and it doesn’t waste much time with the Battle of Trost happening in mere minutes.
The actual cutscenes are not new information or footage, as they are ripped directly from the anime, and the dialog is only in Japanese. It’s a recap of sorts of the show, but with a lot of filler cut for time, which is definitely a good thing. Battles take place in an arena-like format, kind of like a baby God Hand, but not nearly as open or interesting. In other words, there’s enough room to move about and locate boxes to slash, but they’re not packed with secrets or anything.
Amazingly, Humanity in Chains‘ gameplay emulates the feeling of zipping about in the show. You can use the R trigger to “Spider-Man swing” around cities at will, which is a blast. Y allows you to aim your hooks (you can even do it in the air), and players will be doing most of their combat in the air, which makes for a fairly action-packed experienced — if you want, you can beat some missions without ever touching the ground.
Most of your attacks will be swooping in to engage Titans (and their weak spots at the nape of their neck) with a timed QTE of sorts. It’s cinematic, with a zoomed-in camera to boot, but it’s also functional and easy to use — and it’s ever so satisfying to cut off an arm or a leg even if you don’t get a killing blow. The Circle Pad Pro or New 3DS nub can be used as a camera if you have either one. I wouldn’t recommend playing with 3D on, as it slows the frame rate down to a crawl, even on the New 3DS, which is a massive disappointment.
The action is all very cool looking and fun to play, if a bit muted by enemies who practice similar mechanics, and déjà vu environments (with plenty of retreading and re-used maps). Part of the reason the Titans aren’t all that compelling to fight is that the AI is fairly easy to counter, and a lot of foes are kind of just “there,” wandering around. Still, it does accurately capture the feeling of the show, and when Titans are aggressive, it’s an odd balancing act that works. I’d actually claim that it looks more badass than the anime does on a consistent basis.
After a couple of hours into the roughly 10-hour campaign you’ll unlock “World Mode,” the real meat of the game. Here you’ll access the sole multiplayer component of Humanity in Chains (both offline and online with matchmaking), as well as an RPG-heavy system that allows you to create a character, level him up, and recruit new members into your party. It’s a lot more involved than I thought, forcing you to scale up your base of operations, purchase supplies, pay to recruit soldiers, and embark upon missions much tougher than the story.
You’ll have to repeat a lot of missions to grind up more currency, but if you’re so inclined you can also start up online sessions (which were smooth, in my experience) to mix things up a bit, and hire “mercenaries” by way of StreetPassing friends. My favorite aspect of World Mode is access to more open plain levels, where you can’t rely on fluttering about on invisible buildings, and have to rely on horseback riding and pinpoint Titan attacks. It still has a lot of the same closed city maps though, so it’s not a game-changer.
Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains often can’t shake the limitations of the 3DS platform, but it captures most of what makes the anime’s world so captivating. If you can deal with similar environments and a lack of compelling objectives outside of the rat-race of World Mode, you’ll have a lot of fun here. But in some ways, it feels like a tech demo for the next title.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]