Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains
Developed by Spike Chunsoft
Published by Atlus
Available on 3DS
The inevitable video game iteration of one of the hottest anime series in recent times has finally made its way to the west. Attack on Titan is brought to the 3DS with Humanity in Chains, a game that promises to capture the action-packed essence of the anime all while failing at everything it attempts to do.
Take the game’s story mode, which is the only selectable option upon starting the game. It’s all just a simple take on season one of the anime series. Between little slideshows accompanied with text, the player is given cinematic cutscenes ripped straight from the anime. Seeing that Humanity in Chains wasn’t even given unique and dedicated animated scenes shows how little confidence the companies had in this title. Instead of being a new take on the series, it’s turned into a glorified picture book tethered in a chain of licenses.
Humanity in Chains gives fans both openings of the beloved anime as well as numerous songs ripped straight from the show in order to cater to their fondness of the original series. However, this reliance to bringing fans what they are familiar with becomes the game’s downfall.
The game is a hastily put together retelling of the first season of the anime. The story is told through the separate campaigns of Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi and Sasha. Each campaign consists of about five to 12 missions that are bookended by slideshows. Some missions will have fully animated scenes but fans of Attack on Titan will have already seen them so adding them to the game seems pointless.
The game starts off with about 6 missions dedicated to tutorials. The development’s laziness rears its ugly head in the opening seconds of the very first mission. In the first mission you play as Eren Jeager and you must stay alive for one minute by dodging the colossal titan’s hand swipes. Yes an entire mission created just to teach the player how to dodge. As if this wasn’t bad enough, countless pop-ups assault the player with wordy descriptions on what everything does. The game even feels the need to thoroughly explain the concept of ‘target locking’ with various pop-up tutorial windows.
After about ten minutes, we finally get to take on the first titan in yet another glorified tutorial mission. This is the first opportunity that fans get to fly through the air with their very own ODM. Blasting through arenas is the smoothest aspect of the game. Unfortunately the finnicky camera will cause swift maneuvering and turning to be almost impossible as the only way to turn the camera is to press L to have it position right in the back of the player. So, unless you plan on only flying in a straight line the entire game, odds are you will have some problems.
Attaching onto titans and attacking them is surprisingly smooth, albeit very dull. The player can lock onto a certain part of a titan’s body with L and fly towards it by pressing Y. In the air, pressing X will initiate a quick-time event which the player will have to execute in order to inflict any amount of damage. After getting the hand of slaying titans, it becomes glaringly obvious that killing them is immensely easier and more uneventful than the anime made it out to be.
Each titan can be killed easily with the same series of actions.
- Aim at their feet and launch towards them.
- Bait out and avoid their attack by moving to the left or right.
- Execute the quick time event and take out their feet.
- Immediately launch towards their head and maneuver behind them.
- Execute the quick time event and attack the nape off their neck.
- Repeat on other titans until the mission is complete.
Not much more thought is necessary and the game doesn’t get much more difficult than that. In fact, the game’s idea of difficulty scaling is adding more titans and decreasing the time limit of each mission.
Each mission places the player in a small arena with a few set objectives that will alternate until each campaign is over. Either kill every titan in the arena, pick up a certain number of items or make it through a set number of destination markers. That’s it. It’s repetitive and ultimately fails to give the player a sense of how the anime handled action which, at the very least, kept the audience interested.
Throughout each mission, the game tells the player to be wary of blade sharpness and the amount of gas the ODM has left. Without blade sharpness, you will be unable to attack and without gas, you won’t be able to fly. There are items scattered throughout the arenas but the game starts the player off with so much reserves that searching for any more is unnecessary.
With such lackluster gameplay, one would expect the story, especially a retelling of a story, to be done correctly. But no, Humanity in Chains fails at this as well. Eren Jaeger is the first campaign the player can choose and starts off the story. However after a while, the game forces the player to start other characters’ campaigns in order to unlock missions for Eren. For some reason, the developers thought it would be a bad idea to give each character unique missions and cutscenes. Because of this, each campaign retells the story of not only the anime but the story that was just portrayed in a previous character’s campaign, along with reused cutscenes and missions. So basically, Humanity in Chains contains retellings of retellings of retellings of retellings of a story that every Attack on Titan fan has already seen.
But that is just story mode. Arguably the biggest draw of the game is its world mode. It would be an interesting aspect to a game had it not revolved around the depressingly shallow gameplay.
Players can team up with friends online and co-op in missions in order to gain experience and money. Certainly being able to take down hordes of titans as a cooperative team is much better than doing it alone. While it is a much better aspect, it still features the same repetitive missions and gameplay offered in story mode.
At the very least, players can use the money they earned to buy more weapons and various items for themselves and their armories. There are many weapons but using them is arguably pointless seeing as how slaying titans is easier and quicker with blades and the ODM than rockets and shotguns but nonetheless offers a little more to the game.
Other than zooming through arenas with the ODM, the best part of the game is seeing the creepy titans and their freaky faces and unnerving movements. The player will no doubt be caught off guard when Eren is running through one of the streets to pick up an item then from behind him, an abnormal titan comes arrives, with its maddening smile and monstrous body, grabs him and threatens to swallow him whole. Each titan seems unique with hundreds of different variants that could possibly appear. The icing on the cake is that you can view each of these titans in the Extras menu, after they’ve been encountered, in all of their hideous glory.
Humanity in Chains is an utter disappointment. The simplistic and repetitive gameplay mixed with the rehashed story and shoehorned cutscenes from the anime make the entire game hard to admire or even sit through. It is a mystery for whom this game was made in the first place. Certainly the bland gameplay isn’t the drawing point which makes the blazing fast action of the anime look like a dumbed down joke. Had it been a unique or original take on the universe of Attack of Titan, I could understand fans wading through this murky sludge of gameplay to get to the story. But it’s just a retelling of the first season and a bad one at that.
Humanity in Chains is a must-miss for any die-hard Attack on Titan fan and a shameful cash-in on a hit anime series. For the sake of the anime itself, keep on holding out for a better game that can take the license and actually do something worthy of the universe it is basing itself upon.