Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
A review copy was provided by Atlus
Humankind’s Last Hope: An Introduction
Welcome to the second installment of my anime/gaming crossover column. This week we’ll be looking at Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains. Based on the mega-popular anime and manga of the same name, Attack on Titan puts players in the role of a several of the series favorite characters, including Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackermen, and Armin Arlet. As they serve as humanity’s last line of defense against the man-eating giants known as Titans. Once in the game players will be treated to a story mode that covers several story arcs from the first season of the Attack on Titan anime. Each of the three characters mentioned above has a full storyline of their own. Levi and Sasha, have smaller quest lines that cater exclusively to their unique character traits. For example, Levi’s status as humanity’s most competent soldier and Sasha’s love of potatoes and bread.
As you relive the story of Attack on Titan in Story Mode, the player will eventually unlock World Mode, an MMO-like mode of play. You create a character of your character, by drawing from a small pool of faces, body types, and hair. Once your soldier is forged, it is time to embark on missions with your fellow soldiers to defeat the Titans and rise through the military’s ranks. World Mode plays identically to Story Mode but offers players a degree of customization that makes the whole experience just a bit more fun than the main mode of play. I enjoyed building up my character, unlocking new clothing for her to wear, and then outfitting her with increasingly convoluted weapons and accessories. In addition, as you progress through both Story Mode and World Mode, it is possible to unlock costume sets that allow a custom character to take on the appearance of a character from the titular show. Some of the most interesting characters from the series, such as Hange Zoe, aren’t playable via the Story Mode, so this is a welcome surprise.
The Wall Holds Steady: The Good
Perhaps the best part of Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains, is just how well it replicates the look and feel of the anime. From the moment, you are dropped into a real fight, which happens after a rather lackluster tutorial, you can make use of the Omnidirectional Maneuver Gear. The fancy grappling hook-like device allows soldiers in the AoT universe use to keep up with the massive Titans, to zip across the game’s open stages and charge blade first at an enemy feels right. Especially once you’ve mastered the trick of aiming at one target after another and virtually flying through the air like a bird. Similarly, this mode of locomotion also makes combat a rather visceral and frenetic experience as you attempt to get close to a Titan without being captured or eaten. These battles never last for long, and could honestly become a bit annoying if they did. But linger just long enough to make it feel satisfying once you stand victorious over the fallen bodies of several titans at once.
Slay a Titan, launch yourself into the air, grapple another, and then sever its head without ever having touched the ground. That is Humanity in Chains‘ gameplay in a nutshell. Such feats as this look and play amazingly and go that extra mile in managing to feel just like the Attack on Titan TV anime.
World Mode is also worth mentioning as a neat little diversion that manages to, somewhat, make up for the lackluster nature of Attack on Titans story mode. These generic missions, that would have felt out of place in a retelling of the anime’s story, feel right at home in World Mode. As you take on the role of a no-name solider clawing their way up from the bottom of the heap. You can build your own squad, make new weapons and gear, and unlock new outfits and accessories. That is far more fulfilling than merely replaying a story that fans of Attack on Titan likely know by heart. My advice? Get through story mode as quickly as possible, unlock everything you can, especially the character sets, and then dive head first into World Mode. You’ll have a lot more fun that way.
Unfortunately, as I will get to in a moment, as much fun as killing Titans is, the package that contains this wonderful experience is less than stellar overall.
You Were Doing So Well Until Everybody Died: The Bad
While Attack on Titan’s controls and overall gameplay are a fun reproduction of the anime and manga upon which it draws inspiration, the rest of the game leaves something to be desired. Outside of Story Mode, there is very little in the way of actual content here. Most missions involve one of five different objectives: Slaying Titans in the area, finding a certain number of lost objects on the ground, racing through a series of checkpoints, rescuing fallen allies or protecting an area from a Titan invasion. This “variety” of mission objectives serve as mere window dressing for the fact that missions come down to slaying Titans over and over again for nearly six to ten hours.
Story Mode lasts between 4-10 hours depending on your skill and speed, and will repeat content across the three main character’s quest lines for no real reason. It is very noticeable during Mikasa and Armin’s stories, which have identical missions for a stretch near the end of their short run time. The story on offer here is a truncated version of the first anime’s plot, and thus offers nothing new to long-time fans of the series, which will most likely make up most of this game’s audience. Sure, once you’ve completed the main story, there is still the Sasha and Levi stories to tackle, but both are so annoying that I don’t know why you’d even bother.
In the case of Levi, the player is tasked with fighting Titans without the aid of a squad of allies. While this might sound fine, and in practice, it plays no differently than having back up. Once a Titan has captured you; there is very little chance of survival as your allies are often the only ones who can save you from the man-eating giant’s clutches. Once you’ve gained enough raw skill to avoid being captured, it isn’t so bad playing as Levi, but for everyone else who has yet to master the game….not so much.
Sasha’s issues lie on the opposite end of the spectrum. Far from being an issue of the quirkiness of the game’s team-based combat system, instead the missions involved in this storyline, which consist entirely of item finding, are just so annoying to the point of frustration. Whereas killing titans, or dashing through checkpoints on horseback are fun, Sasha’s seemingly endless quest for smoked meat, the item the game tasks you with finding, is just annoying. The items are never marked on the map and force the player to run around blind until they can stumble across enough to finish the mission. These fetch quests aren’t very fun and seem more like an attempt to pad out a short game than build out actual content. This matter is made worse by the fact that you are forced to complete these scavenger hunts to progress in both Story and World mode, which compounds an already annoying issue several times over.
That Day Humanity Received a Grim Reminder: The Final Verdict
Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains is a game that succeeds in reproducing the look and feel of its source material, and does a pretty good job of remaining fun while doing so. However, it is then dragged down, and run through the mud, by a lackluster story mode, short length, and complete lack of variety in mission objectives, with the collection quests being among the most frustrating things I’ve encountered in any game as of late.
So if you’re a fan of the series, then you will most likely enjoy this game. If you’re not, well then just skip it, because there are better action games for the 3DS. I give Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains a 6.5/10.