Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains is the first video game adaption on a dedicated gaming system of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan series. It’s developed by Spike Chunsoft and is being published by Atlus in the west. We learned not too long ago that the game was getting localized by Atlus. This of course is a pretty huge deal for anime enthusiasts and fans of the series. Likewise the move brings a mature series to the 3DS and gives the system a type of game not many developers are making for the system; that being a mature 3D action game with single player, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer.
The bulk of the gameplay stays true to the series with combat and much of the movement playing out in a fashion similar to web swinging in Spiderman. This happens through a body-harness-like suit called Omni-directional Mobility Gear or ODM Gear for short. It’s also known as Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear and Vertical Maneuvering Equipment though it’s only referred to as ODM gear in this game. Like the anime, ODM gear uses gas so you’ll need to keep an eye on your gas meter. When you get low, you’ll need to use a new Gas Cylinder otherwise you’ll be stuck on the ground and near useless.
On the ground your character can only do a roll dodge, attack with a single swing of a sword, and fire a gun if you have one. Sometimes when you land from using the ODM gear your character will be in a quick sprint but when you’re on the ground for a while, your character’s movement speed is much slower. Combat is only viable in the air using the ODM gear. That said, you can only use items, pickup items, and revive fallen soldiers when you’re on the ground. You’ll need to be wise about when you land do things because on the ground, you’re at a complete disadvantage.
In the actual combat, you’ll be fighting giants called Titans that eat Humans. Not only are they big and menacing but they actually regenerate over time. The only way to kill them is by going after the back of their neck. This is why soldiers fight with ODM Gear and use swords. You use the ODM Gear to pull yourself to the enemies for an attack. Unfortunately, you don’t have full control over the attacks in the ODM Gear but rather pressing the attack button initiates a Quick Time Event for attacking. This segment brings up an attack ring that you have to press when the ring gets in the right spot. Landing it correctly nets you a critical hit. Missing it however means your attack will be much weaker.
The positioning and size of the zone you need to align your ring in can change for every attack. The speed of which the rings move also changes not just each attack, but sometimes mid QTE. If you initiate an attack while you’re too close to an enemy, the ring can disappear all together. Likewise if you initiate it too far away from an enemy, you’re character will dash at the enemy but swing at the air before you get to the enemy leaving you open. To take it a step further, the camera changes to give you a cinematic frontal view of your character, which means you can’t see what the enemy is doing. This is bad because the Titans can smack you, grab you, and eat you. To make matters worse, the QTE’s are near undoable when 3D is on. Throughout the game, your biggest enemy will be the mechanics, not the Titans.
The bulk of the missions take place in 3 different terrain types – city, forest, and field. In the cities and forest, combat and movement is played out very similar because there are quite a bit of large objects to use your ODM gear on. In the field however there isn’t anything other then titans to use your ODM gear on. Much like the show, you’ll be on horseback and you’re out in the open. This means the difficulty ramps up drastically. The camera isn’t really the greatest anywhere in the game but becomes much worse when you’re out in the field. This is due to the horses. When on a horse, the camera isn’t really positioned well for horseback riding. Doing a right turn moves you halfway off the left side of the screen. Also, because it’s zoomed in, you can’t see as well on or off the horse in these areas. When your allies are near you on their horses and you’re off your own horse, your allies will regularly block your view. Also in the field, enemies run instead of walk and will chase you down. In some missions they’ll even swarm you all at once.
In the forest and cities, when the battle system isn’t fighting against you and everything is working as intended, the game is drastically easier. One of the reasons for this is because Titans don’t break down buildings or trees coming after you the way they do in the show and move much slower. This means in the cities, you’ll have lots of spots to hide go if your health is low and recover. Speaking of low health, if you do take damage, your character limps around in pain when on the ground. Without ODM gear, you will be a sitting duck. In the field, when you’re off your horse, you’re at a disadvantage. You’ll need to approach enemies differently in the field and make smart use of your horse if you intend on succeeding.
The games missions are split into two modes, Story and World. Story mode follows the story of the show from five different characters perspectives. Those five are Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackermann, Armin Arlelt, Levi, and Sasha Braus. You’re presented with story to read with pictures from the anime before missions. Occasionally you’ll even be treated to clips from the anime when you embark on a mission or complete an important mission. Mission structure doesn’t follow the story in linear fashion allowing you to choose which character you want and keep doing their missions. However, you will eventually hit a wall and won’t be able to progress too far on a single character until you reach a certain point with other characters as well. When you embark on a mission, you’ll have other characters from the anime in your group depending on the specific mission and lead character.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few shared missions in 4 of the characters story lines making you repeat the same missions several times with a different group. To take it a step further, the character you don’t repeat missions with has only 1 mission that isn’t a collection mission. The story also doesn’t do a very good job of introducing you to the characters and world of the game or explaining to you why things are happening. While there is story there and there are clips of the anime in it, because the mission structure isn’t linear and the story mode isn’t in depth enough, I would recommend people watch the anime or read the manga before playing this game.
World Mode is a different beast all together. It works similar to online Action RPG’s such as a Monster Hunter Hunter Game and Phantasy Star Online. In this mode you create a character and embark on missions with hired NPC allies, friends around you locally, or even other players all over the world. As of the time I’m writing this, I haven’t been able to find other people to connect with so I can’t tell you how online holds up. However, I can tell you about single player, which plays out exactly like multiplayer, minus the human allies.
During missions, you’ll come across breakable objects such as crates and barrels that drop items. In the World Mode, many of these items are resources that can be brought back and used in the facilities to create new weapons and ODM gear. When you complete missions, you’ll also get currency which you can use to update your Armory, your ODM Gear Locker, and the Soldier Training Grounds. Doing so means you can make better weapons, better ODM gear, and have access to better soldiers. Currency can also be used to buy items in the shop and hire soldiers to go on missions with. Also, when you complete missions you’ll receive experience which can be used to upgrade different attributes on your character.
There are 3 types of missions in World Mode you can embark on; Normal Missions, Scout Missions, and Survival. Normal Missions offer the worst rewards and items you can find but area easier and have a normal progression curve. Scout Missions offer pretty good rewards and items but are more challenging. Survival is literally an endless wave of titans without a mission clear. For some of the harder things to make, you’ll need to make sure to do a mixture of missions types to find the materials to make them.
Doing missions in Story mode and World Mode will unlock costumes for characters in both modes. It will also unlock hair types, emblems, faces, and other things for World mode. Also as you progress, your Titan Guide will get filled with various different titans for you go view in the main menu under Extras.
The music, voices, and sound effects are, for the most part, from the anime. That means the game sounds fantastic. Visually, it stays true to the series while making good use of the 3DS’s hardware. I’d even go as far as to say that, when at its best, it’s one of the better looking 3DS games. You will notice some things such as lower frame rates for enemies further out, pop-in for breakable objects, and muddier textures when close up. However, in motion, the game looks great, especially when swinging around with ODM Gear.
Admittedly, I don’t have the most knowledge of Attack On Titan. I’ve only seen the anime and haven’t read the manga. Fortunately, the game only takes place during the first season of the anime as far as I know at least. Despite the numerous issues I do have with several parts of the game, the World Mode has proven to be much better then I was expecting. Right now there isn’t that many people playing online however this is likely to change now considering the game is about to release. Ultimately, I will be spending more time with the game due to the World Mode which makes up for the Story Mode. However for those looking to pickup the game, do be warned, you do need to progress in the Story Mode to unlock the World Mode. Again, if you haven’t seen the anime or read the manga, I do recommend giving it a look before playing this game. There are some major spoilers that will lose their effect if you play this game first.