Welcome to the Clover Kingdom
Based on a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Yuki Tabata, Bandai Namco’s role-playing game Black Clover Phantom Knights follows the journey of Asta and Yuno, orphans from the Clover Kingdom who try to climb to the top of the Order of the Magic Knights.
As a fan of both anime and RPGs, I was quite excited to review the game. Unfortunately, it came with more problems than I was ready to deal with, starting with the fact that it not only takes up nearly one gigabyte of space on my phone, but it downloaded additional content every five minutes. What was that content? I have no idea. Then, on top of all that, the app crashed every 10 minutes so that I’d lose progress, forcing me to click through cutscenes again to try to move through the main story.
There’s Too Much Going On
Upon opening the app you’re greeted with a lovely menu screen, and at first glance it seems all right. However, when you begin to dive into the individual tabs, you start to see that the developers made a lot of assumptions about what the players would know going into the game. They did make an attempt to explain the dynamics of the menu and the individual tabs with the aid of a “fairy guide” who pops up on your screen throughout setup and exposition of the game. The unfortunate bit is that while I’m sure her role was to explain how to navigate the menu, she tends to only talk about things that the user could figure out on their own and completely glazes over the pieces that don’t make sense.
The Skill Trees Don’t Matter
Out of all the characters, Vanessa is the only one I found whose skill tree branches differed. All of the other characters had the same exact skill improvements in each branch of the skill tree, just in a different order, and you could still go back and choose the other branch even after you’d made your way through the first one. On top of that, each attack supposedly uses a specific skill type and the type used is never clarified in the game or on the character screen.
When playing many RPGs, especially ones that let you build your character with a skill tree, part of the appeal is that you can choose what type of character build you want to go with. However, with Black Clover, it really doesn’t matter what you select for each character. The game either doesn’t explain how each skill will improve your character or it gives you the same improvements no matter which branch you choose.
Items and the Store
You get an unusually high number of items, both in the beginning of the game and as you progress. However, there are barely any descriptions of what the items do and, therefore, no point in having them at all. Of course they have text “descriptions” for each item. But is it really a description if the information is unhelpful and basically a repeat of the item name? Not only did I have no idea what any of the items would do for me, but the game didn’t explain which items are intended to be used in combat, which should be used to upgrade characters, and which were equippable.
If the items being unusable isn’t enough, store set up is extremely confusing. For some reason, you needed to place one of your own characters in the shop to purchase items. Why? I have no idea, but there isn’t a consistent shopkeeper. So to purchase or even see any of the items, you need to assign one of your brigade members to man the shop until he or she runs out of energy. This, however, doesn’t mean anything because all of your brigade members still accompany you on all your quests. Even if they’ve been “left to man the shop,” they’re still somehow present for every fight, which seems counterintuitive. If it made any difference at all in the brigade’s makeup, I could maybe see what they were going for. But as it stands, it seems like an unnecessary add-on.
Here We Go Again
The characters seem to be cookie-cutter impressions of characters that have been done hundreds of times before without variation. On top of that, distracting side stories take up a decent amount of the dialog. The main tsundere, who fills the standoffish anime girl trope, has a romantic interest in the game’s primary character, Asta. For some reason, this takes up the same amount of time as, if not more than, the actual story itself.
Every two seconds, as one character tries to explain what’s going on, she interrupts them and shouts, “Asta is looking at me! What do I do? Oh, Asta-chan, you BAKA!” There’s nothing wrong with side stories, but they shouldn’t be so distracting that they take away from the main storyline. And, to be honest, I’m not even sure what that is at this point.
Is it Hardcore?
No, it's not.
The only thing hardcore about Black Clover Phantom Knights is how much space it took up on my phone. The interface isn’t user friendly, the dialog is sloppy, and the game crashes far too much for me to give it any score higher than this. It seems like it could have been good if the developers had just stopped while they were ahead. Having too much quantity and not enough quality is one of the biggest game killers there are.