School’s in: Hogwarts sim Academagia is on Steam

Academagia [official site] originally came out seven years ago, when Kieron ‘Funny Pages’ Gillen described it as “a scarily deep Princess Maker with Wizards”. It’s a Hogwarts simulator, in which you play the role of one of the new kids at a school for magical sorts, and have to go to classes, learn magicks and other things, make friends (and enemies), and involve yourself in plots and adventures. Primarily text-based, it’s a massive, complex life sim in which character creation is so baffling and time-consuming that I’ve never actually started the game.

Maybe now is the time. The “definitive” version is on Steam, bringing an interface overhaul, all existing DLC, and plenty of bugfixes.

I hadn’t realised that the game only covers the first year of the new school experience, with planned sequels covering the rest of your student’s time at Academagia. Apparently Year 2 is still in the works and Year 1 isn’t exactly light on things to see and do, but keep in mind that the series isn’t complete. And remember this game was first released in 2010.

Don’t expect much in the way of whimsy. Though it’s not all death and darkness at Academagia, which is a youngster-friendly place, there are lots of numbers. So many, in fact, that my brief dip back into the game just now ended in another bout of decision-paralysis during character creation. Do I want to drop points into magical skills, being a wizard and all, or do I want to have strong social skills so I can form an all-powerful clique of conjurers?

I haven’t the foggiest. There’s a tutorial in the form of letters from a former student, but it confused me more than it helped me. This isn’t a light game, is the point, though it’s probably worth cracking if you’re really into the idea of an education in elemental manipulation.

It’s worth taking a look at Kieron’s thoughts since it’s still the same game all these years later.

13 Comments

  1. spleendamage says:

    I’ve played this quite a bit (pre-Steam via Impulse and now I’ve gone and bought it again on Steam) and while I’ve got a handle on the mechanics and I generally enjoy it, I don’t feel like I am getting the most out of the experience. This is due, in part, to the fact that it has got such a wide and ambitious scope that almost assuredly I never have enough in the requisite skill I need to accomplish many of the things I encounter (there are hundreds of skills and spells and items and places and quests). The larger problem with the game is that the UI, especially for reading the massive amounts of narrative, is not quite up to the task.

    In spite of its flaws, I like the game. It’s just that with a refined UI and a bit more insight into how to better apply the skills you DO have it could be great.

    • Someoldguy says:

      The game does boast a recently overhauled UI. Has that not helped?

      • RedWurm says:

        Yes and no. You’re no longer reading text from a sub-window the size of a postage stamp (unless you want to) since you can resize ui elements and change font sizes, but the way it handles updating the text and images means it tends to shuffle the text about each time you make a choice, making it a bit awkward to keep track of where you are.

    • Jp1138 says:

      If you mail them proof of purchase they send you a Steam key for free, so you could have saved some cash.

  2. aliksy says:

    How does it compare to Magical Diary? Magical Diary was a similar premise, except I don’t recall the stats being particularly deep. I enjoyed it and wanted more, so this is interesting.

    • spleendamage says:

      There are some similarities in how they play, but the end product is quite a bit different. Magical Diary is a streamlined, accessible experience for nearly anyone, while Academagia takes effort to just understand how to play at all.

      Magical Diary is more visual and has a few set plot-lines, the emphasis revolves around character drama more. It also has a better sense of conveying what magic does what.

      Academagia is essentially all text. As far as story paths go, there are so many threads you can pull at, but the only coalescing stories are the ones contained in an “adventure” or sequence of adventures. Characters don’t really develop past what you know about them in their bio, what changes is their relationship score with you (and whether you can enlist their aid in a tight spot). And the magic system, well… Academagia has 51 top level skills and each of those has 3+ sub skills. As a student you need to actively pursue 6 courses of study, so that leaves 45 that you are only going to be partially invested in, if at all.

  3. AngoraFish says:

    Is the game more of a genuine life sim with procedural/emergent elements, or is it simply a visual novel where the primary point is to run multiple playthroughs in order to reverse engineer which predefined skill point combinations trigger certain text dumps (such as with Long Live The Queen)?

    • malkav11 says:

      Way more the former. There are Adventures to go on as one of your possible activities (dozens of them, as I recall) with longer form plots and skill checks and whatnot, but the day to day play involves Princess Maker style day planning with a huge and dizzying array of random events happening between activities and firing off all sorts of things in ways that would be extremely difficult to map out or predict.

  4. Yglorba says:

    From what I recall, using social connections to resolve missions as fast as possible is the “optimal” way to play the game in terms of raw power. As usual, friendship is OP.

    • RedWurm says:

      I keep thinking that. And then I never do it and spend an entire term trying to make The Best Magical Sword.

  5. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    As long as I can role-play Emma Watson I’m in! If not then naaaaah I’ll pass.

  6. tehfish says:

    Ooh, interesting.

    I brought this such long time ago (whilst tracking down my reciept, turns out it was back in 2011) that i’d forgotten i even had a copy…

    I’m waiting for a new steam key (For others that need to request one: link to academagia.invisionzone.com) but i’m looking forwards to playing it again :)