Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains
Does this anime tie-in measure up?
Attack on Titan is undoubtedly one of the most popular series in the West and in Japan at this point. There's no denying its influence on the industry or the legions of anime fans around the world. With its massive popularity, it was a no-brainer that it should receive a video game adaptation, and as such Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains was released for 3DS. It was given a Western release for fans clamoring for more of their favorite series, and fills the void the end of the anime left in 2014. However, it's full of frustrating moments that simply don't work, and despite its excellent source material, it just can't help falling on its face at several pivotal moments throughout.
Humanity's Last Stand
For the uninitiated, Attack on Titan follows the last bastion of humanity as they eke out an existence within the walls that protect them from enormous, lumbering Titans outside. The Titans devour humans one by one, and the only way they can be stopped is by a swift strike to the neck, which special task forces can pull off thanks to their "Omni-directional Mobility Gear," which gives the tiny humans the ability to zip around their towns and forests with the ease of Spider-Man. Unfortunately, sometimes that just doesn't work thanks to the Titans' extreme speed and strength. The game follows the main storyline behind the anime's first season, which features friends Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, all who've lost friends and family and many other important things. They've been trained for combat with the Titans and set out to fight them off and push them away and out of humanity's last stronghold.
All three characters are given their own special storylines, with chapters interspersed with a bit of plot to move the story along. It's not a very plot-rich game, seemingly operating under the assumption that players who pop in likely have already seen the series or are familiar with the travails of its protagonists. There are also bonus characters to play as, making the grand total five -- which sounds like a lot, until you realize it'll only take about six or seven hours (if that) to plow through the entire game.
This is due to the fact that a good portion of the missions themselves are actually retreads of previous missions. If the story calls for one character to defend the female titan within the bounds of the storyline, you'll play with the same character twice. Given the lack of variation between missions to start with, this means you'll become quite frustrated very quickly as you're forced to complete the same tasks over and over. Sometimes you'll be riding on a horse to escape from danger, hitting checkpoints on the way. Search missions find you playing Attack on Titan "Where's Waldo" as you search for small items around the city, which are very easily overlooked. When you finally get to play missions that place you in the shoes of Titans, things get interesting, but these missions are few and far between.
The rest of your time is spent taking out a set number of titans, which sounds interesting, but begins to get annoying after a short period of time. You can collect things, smash items on the play field, and mess about for a bit while the titans advance, but taking them out really isn't that entertaining. This should be the crux of the game, but instead it's very repetitive, ensuring you spend most of your time in World Mode, when you unlock it.
Not Quite A Classic Exhibition
World Mode could very well be likened to Monster Hunter, as you play with a customizable character outfitted with custom gear and leveled up to your specifications. You can head online to kill titans together with friends, earn new equipment, and see a new facet of the game that some players may never see since the campaign mode seems so frustratingly repetitive and closed-minded. It's certainly where most of the interesting play is at, so forcing yourself to continue is important if you want to get the most out of Humanity in Chains.
Spike Chunsoft had some very intriguing ideas in mind when piecing this game together and many of them shine through, though in all aspects the game seems content to limit itself to facets that only shine under certain conditions. If you're a big fan of the series and are looking to get some extra mileage out of it, this might be a good buy for you, but if you're unfamiliar with Attack on Titan already and are just looking for some quick action, you might want to pass this game up and find something more action-packed and value-rich.