School’s Out! Academagia Demo Released

By Quintin Smith on February 11th, 2011 at 1:01 pm.

It's like school re-interpreted as piloting a submarine, or something.

Hogwarts-simulator-in-all-but-name Academagia now has a demo out! And dear lord, this game is every bit as in-depth as Kieron described in his awesome impressions article. I was laughing out loud at the endlessness of character creation, not to mention some of the skills. Greengrocery? How important is greengrocery to a young wizard? Just how bad is the dining hall food? Should I put the points in gossip instead? Or a familiar? A rat? A cat? A bat?

It’s utterly bewildering. Spellbinding, even. Everything about Academagia screams labour of love, and you should almost certainly check it out for that reason alone. The demo lets you play for half an hour, which is probably only enough time for your face to begin to unscrunch itself from the balled up paper-bag expression this game will reduce it to in moments. And if you look at the official site, you’ll see the developers are adding even more adventures, items, locations, skills, abilities and actions every single month.

I think a few of you are going to fall head over heels in love with this one. Kieron actually ended his impressions by saying that it’s far too much of a specialist product to not have a demo, but now there’s a demo! So, yeah. Take a look. And here’s a four part video tutorial to ease you gently into the game’s muggy waters. You could definitely go fumbling through the game yourself (as I had some success doing (by “some” I mean I got mauled by a lion on my first day at school and caught fire the following Wednesday)), but if you’re after something more organised, these are what you want.

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60 Comments »

  1. Nighthood says:

    What a scary game.

    Even scarier is the fact that people will genuinely buy it and enjoy it. I weep for humanity.

  2. Dood says:

    I guess’ the Greengrocer’s skill determines’ how good you are at putting apostrophes’ in the wrong place’s.

  3. Atic Atac says:

    Otherwise known as “Harry Potters Microsoft Outlook”

    • Quintin Smith says:

      How rude! If Outlook had music as good as this I’d never stop checking and answering my emails. Wait, I never stop doing that anyway. Carry on.

    • Tokamak says:

      Oh yes, the music was quite nice for sure, all being rather fitting works from the classical repertoire – recall hearing the Hebrides Overture, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Pines of Rome, among others. It does a bit old though if you play for long though, since there’s only seems to be about a dozen or so tracks and the game goes on forever.

      The game itself seems to have enough stats to rival those sports management games, but it’s nicely balanced with the numerous vignettes that pepper your daily activities. Certainly not for one who doesn’t like reading lots and lots, though.

  4. MacBeth says:

    (by “some” I mean I got mauled by a lion on my first day at school and caught fire the following Wednesday)

    …and in the game!

    /obligatory

  5. Teddy Leach says:

    Bah, I’ve actually been enjoying this.

  6. Mr_Hands says:

    I’ve been eyeballing this for a bit. Being someone who primarily lurks around Steam, I have a pretty decent sense of whether a game will be up my alley or not.

    Then I poke my head into Impulse and have absolutely zero idea what’s excellent and what’s merely okay. I saw Academagia and thought it looked rather vaguely Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble-ish, but when I read Kieron’s write-up, I realized I was mistaken. Will have to check out this demo you speak of.

  7. Wilson says:

    The demo’s a bit odd. I’ve downloaded that ‘spoon’ thing and it’s buffering now. What was wrong with a downloaded demo? Not a big deal, but I’d rather not install and sign up to some random service just to try a demo, if it could be helped.

    • Wilson says:

      Bah, 30 minutes is really not enough. I’d barely finished making my character and looking over the options. A limited number of turns would have been a better limitation I think. As it is, I’ve seen enough to interest me, but not enough to know whether it’s really worth £15. It looks like it would be easily worth the money if I was to get into it, but I haven’t played enough. Does anyone here own the game, and if so, have an opinion?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I own it! It’s pretty easy to get into, but it takes a fair while to get your head around just how much there is to the game. Once you’re into it, it’s really easy to sink your time into it, and it’s also got a huge amount of replay value, if not near limitless. It’s easily worth 15 quids, in my opinion.

    • Wilson says:

      I’ve just been reading through the comments on Kieron’s post about it, and I’m quite tempted. Are the devs still doing patches for it here and there? How much has it improved since it was first released (I’m assuming the demo is the latest version)? It would be nice if they’ve made the various stats and bits easier to access, but I think I’d be able to cope even if they were still pretty obtuse. It certainly looks like a pretty singular game, so it would be nice to support it. Plus I want to see how me and my faux-dragon get on :)

    • Soon says:

      My opinion was that it’s fun but needs finishing (it’s always being worked on so my opinion could easily be outdated now). Some basic things were missing. You didn’t know which lessons you were taking on a given day, you didn’t even know which exams were due, only that you had one. Important considering you need to study for them and many spells will boost stats to help your grades. This results in skipping forward, then reloading.

      The game will only take you through year one at the academy (but it is packed with stuff). I don’t know if they’ve decided how the following years will be priced. There are currently free add-ons and there’s an editor (which I have no experience with).

      If the issues are fixed, I’d say it’s just about worth it. Otherwise I’d selfishly wait so you can get the most out of it without the frustrations.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      It’s very heavily supported by the developers. Free DLC’s being churned out on a monthly basis, and it’s also regularly patched, although I’ve never encountered a single issue. It’s improved quite a bit. Most noticeably, each piece of DLC has focussed on a particular college, giving each more quests and the like, further boosting replay value. The skills are relatively obtuse, and most situations can be handled by more than one skill. Stats largely have a bearing on skills, but many skills can be ignored if you want to.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I didn’t see an option to check what lessons you have on a given day. Then again, I may have missed it (but probably didn’t).

  8. Pijama says:

    Can be fun to some types – good stuff to show to your younger sister who is beginning to get into PC gaming, perhaps?

  9. Alaric says:

    I was trying to make a game last year, but then someone told me that it was basically a disguised Excel spreadsheet, so I quit. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

  10. Froibo says:

    Why do I need silverware to play a game?

  11. Berzee says:

    This looks awesome. It’s like http://www.theschoolforheroes.com/ but with less creative writing assignments and real human interaction — so therefore, more relaxing. :)

  12. aeromorte says:

    … So the game looks booooooooooooooring like hell. Cmon lots of reading so younger ppl wont like it, the graphics are … none lol i dont like the style, music if you got mp3 hah … srsly game about school of magic with so many options that and ol hardcore rpg fan would piss himself … like a freaking menager

    • cpeninja says:

      You’re typing on an actual keyboard and chose to reduce the easily typed ‘people’ to ‘ppl’ and avoided all forms of punctuation and capitalization in favor of ellipses. You also decried the need for ‘reading.’

      Hmm…

      Yeah, not only am I sure that this isn’t the game for you, I’m fairly certain you shouldn’t even be posting comments without parental consent.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      What Cpeninja said. A thousand times over. Also, ‘lol’, ‘i’ (uncapitalised), ‘srsly’, and ‘menager’. So yes, what Cpeninja said.

    • Soon says:

      My niece really likes it. But I guess she’s smart for her age.

    • Groove says:

      What a shame.

  13. BobsLawnService says:

    I miss deep and meaningful character creation in RPGs.

    *Old Codger Mode On*

    Why, I remember spending hours creating characters in MegaTraveller 2. Now there was a great RPG system…

    */Old Codger Mode*

    Sadly enough it looks like I might actually enjoy this.

  14. Old Tom says:

    Looking forward to trying the demo.

    As for old codger, from the looks and chatter about this game, reminds me of King of Dragon Pass .. now there was an awesome game with almost limitless replay value to boot.

  15. mwoody says:

    Weird question: once you’ve beaten it, where does it save? I know the second one – in addition to having a totally new engine and being redesigned from the ground up, iirc – is supposed to build on the first, being the next year of school. But I wasn’t given a chance to save at the very end, nor could I find any endgame info. I’d like to uninstall the game, but I’m afraid to do so if I can’t locate and archive that information.

    I had to clean out my save folder, though. I had several gigs of save files. I, uh, tried not to just save-scum my way through it to start. I really did. But I just can’t resist bringing a game to its knees (scored over 250 on all my end exams!).

  16. Jake says:

    I like to think on a parallel earth there is a website asking ‘how important is wizardry to a young greengrocer?’

    • Berzee says:

      I know that Facebook has taught me many evil habits, but that does not stop me wishing there was a Like button here so that I could tell you with a click that

      I LIKE THIS

      o wait, typing it is even more cathartic

  17. Deano2099 says:

    Championship Magicka?

  18. Dave says:

    It seems to me that this leans very heavily on the quality of the writing. The gameplay looks intriguing, but for me, the real draw is the setting. So my question is this: can I depend on the developers to write superb Harry Potter fan fiction?

  19. Lambchops says:

    Demo didn’t work.

    I wonder if Spoonguard was to blame:

    http://www.rathergood.com/spoonguard

    Yes it’s old, but it’s relevant damnit!

  20. Bullwinkle says:

    Academagia is a fantastic game. It’s definitely a niche title, but if you like text adventures and enjoy exploration, I think you’ll really like this. I bought it when it was on sale, but now that I’ve played it I would have gladly paid full price for it. There’s nothing out there quite like it.

  21. Harlander says:

    I can’t seem to get into the game.

    Does it stay on a black screen (with pleasant instrumental music) for a long time for anyone else?

    • Soon says:

      Have you tried running as Administrator?

    • Harlander says:

      It worked the next time I tried it.

      Fascinating… it seems very deep, but what a terrible interface.

      I mean, seriously. Trying to do anything is like a wrestling match with the demiurge of HMI design.

      And yet…

      and yet…

      I’m still kinda tempted with getting it.

  22. The Magic says:

    Aww the trial ended just as i was getting into it. That’s a proper tease. They should give you like a week, rather than a time limit. I spent ages just making my character. I didn’t even get to go to a lesson.

  23. JackShandy says:

    I actually bought this game when Kieron suggested it, enjoyed it for a while. What I really liked was that it’s true, pure roleplaying- there’s no way to “lose” or “win” the game, so it’s entirely focused around the hella-extensive character options. If you flunk out of every class, that’s fine- it just becomes part of your character. And seeing as all the other characters around you have the same extensive options, making pals and getting together a little wizard best-friends club to go on adventures with is genuinely adorable.

    Right now I’m a charismatic black sheep with a rat familiar and aspirations to play some kind of musical instrument. I’ve managed to recruit engineering genius Cordelia Troublepot to the sassy teen squad, and I’m trying to get crazed artists Rixenda and Caspar to join as well.

    The only real problem I have with it is the horrible UI design. Navigating the menus is a baffling chore – which would be less of a problem if the game weren’t entirely composed of them.

    • Towercap says:

      This.

      Bought the game some months ago and found it awesome. Great for business trips that stick you in a hotel with $20/minute WiFi (and tethering says “fuck you”).

      UI is pretty bad, though. Tiny text windows with tiny “next page” buttons, etc.

  24. JackShandy says:

    They’re baaaAAAAaaaaack…

  25. LintMan says:

    I bought Academagia a while back in a sale on Impulse and just started playing it last week. There’s a ton of depth, but the learning curve to actually do well and succeed is rather steep. There should probably be another 4 tutorial videos that walk you through the first bit of game start. (The current vids only show the char creation process).

    My other issue is the user interface, which is a triumph of style over functionality. The text areas show little more than a paragraph of text at a time. It’s also fixed at a low resolution, so it’s tiny on my 1600×1200 display, with a large empty border around it. The combination of the dinky crammed text areas with huge tracts of wasted screen real estate is a bit maddening.

    • kublakhan says:

      You can try running the game in a lower resolution as a workaround. I use 1280×720 on my 1920×1080 display, which zooms in far enough to remove most of the empty space. Of course, the scaling lowers the visual quality slightly, so the developers definitely should try to improve the UI.

  26. Sagan says:

    As a game, I really enjoyed what I played of the demo. But then I got a headache from the small text. I have a 14″ laptop screen. It has never been too small, but with them using only 1/9th of it for the text area, I just can’t stand playing the game.

    And the size of the text area and of the font seems like an easy thing for them to patch. If they ever do that, I shall try playing the demo again.

  27. Dave says:

    [deleted]

  28. Jae Armstrong says:

    What the shitting shit is this shit? I mean… what the living fuck?! I’m not sure I could get into this with an industrial strength can opener.

    But I want to so badly. :’(

  29. Teddy Leach says:

    Forking shoes! Fork off.

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