Black Clover has seen a large rise in popularity since the anime series began airing in 2017. Fitting in nicely with the conclusion of the Naruto Shippuden series, many fans were quick to crown this new Shounen anime as ‘The new Naruto’. So it was only a matter of time before it got it’s first video game tie in. Black Clover: Quartet Knights, published by Bandai Namco is that first game. It’s a multiplayer-heavy third person action shooter title that may have some appeal to fans of the anime or manga. But were we in need of a Black Clover game just yet?
One thing I will give Quartet Knights props for is that it is different to other games in the anime game genre. Where other Shounen properties such as Dragon Ball Z or Naruto focus mainly on being competitive fighting games where characters fight against each other in a 1v1 scenario, Quartet Knights is a class based third person combat/shooter not too dissimilar to the likes of Blizzard’s Overwatch where most game types consist of 4v4 teams. But I don’t mean third person shooter in the same sense that Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet was. There aren’t guns in Black Clover: Quartet Knights, the projectiles you’ll be firing at your enemies are various forms of magic.
The story mode of Quartet Knights starts off similar to the anime but then diverts off into it’s own original plot. This was also great to see, as many anime games’ story modes are just rehashes of the key events from the anime arcs. Although it assumes you know who the key characters are, their motivations and backstories as the story mode here doesn’t take the time to bring newcomers of the series up to speed.
Original anime was created for the game’s cutscenes especially those featuring the new original character. I appreciated the effort put into these scenes as I wasn’t expecting anime cutscenes to be present in the game at all. Unfortunately these nicer cutscenes are few and far between. Most of the story is told using in engine cutcenes after fights or static character shots with readable on-screen dialogue, similar to a visual novel.
I would have liked a bit more consistency with the cutscene types, both the fully animated and in-engine cutscenes look pretty great but the static ones just came off as lazy by comparison.
And if you were excited to jump into a long original story with all your favourite Black Clover characters, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you won’t be. You’ll be able to clear the story mode in 3-4 hours.
And while I did quite enjoy the story of the game I found it’s mission types quite easy and really repetitive. Normally consisting of you defeating a wave of enemies and/or or a boss character as Asta and then replaying a similar style mission as Yami to get his perspective on the events. That’s right, in story mode you’re limited to playing as those two characters only. And their move-sets are quite basic, which when combined with a repetitive and simple mission structure made it seem like a chore to play at times.
You can however go back and play the story missions with increased difficulty or as other characters once you have cleared them with Asta and Yumi first but I had no drive to do so because I wasn’t that engaged with them the first time through.
The story mode seems to focus a lot on teaching you the systems and tactics you’ll need for the multiplayer aspect of the game. That is where the core focus of the game seems to be situated and will be where the game will see some longevity if it’s picked up by enough players.
The multiplayer mode consists of 3 game modes Zone Control, a King of the Hill mode where you and your team will try to take ownership of various zones on the map, Crystal Capture, which has you escorting a giant crystal to a selected point and Treasure Hunt where as a team you will collect keys and open more treasure than the enemy team.
While the game types do seem limited, and I do hope they release more in future updates, I did find them quite fun to play. But some further polish is needed on the game to make it a really engaging and addictive experience. I found that many of the characters felt clunky to control, the aim was often stiff which is the last thing you want in a projectile based competitive game and it was far too easy to fall into utter chaos. Many of the magic spells release particle based explosions and when you’re trying to locate and attack and enemy, keep an eye on your magic and health meters and dodge oncoming magic explosions it just becomes too chaotic at times in such small spaces.
In between matches you’ll also be able to customise your character load out which includes the ability to change the aesthetic look of your character as well as change the ability of their magic and tweak strengths using the deck and card system. This allows for some further strategy in the matches and allows your character to play differently compared to the enemies if they are also using the same character on their team (unless they’ve somehow chosen the same load-out as you).
Along with the story and multiplayer there are also Challenge and Training modes you can use to try out new characters for the first time and become comfortable with their fighting style and special techniques before jumping straight into the online component and use that character against other real players. I found this helpful when wanting to try out somebody new as there is little chance to learn the in’s and out’s of a new fighter in the heat of a live battle.
During my time playing for review I could see the online component is already starting to feel like the players have already moved on to something else. It can take quite a long time to find players to fill an online lobby. Luckily if it can’t find enough players, the game will fill up the remaining team slots with Bot CPU characters. But if I wanted to play against a team primarily made up of bots I would play offline. Hopefully with some tweaks and updates Quartet Knights can attract new players or encourage existing players to return. There are the foundations of a good game here, it just needs some polish to make it really fun to play.
Black Clover: Quartet Knights is in a bit of a tough spot. Black Clover fans are the most likely ones that would go out and pick up the game but they’re also likely the group that will be most disappointing in the game in it’s current form due to it’s short story mode, multiplayer issues and the growing difficulty of finding a full online match.
If you’re not planning to play the game online I wouldn’t recommend picking up Quartet Knights. While it’s story is interesting it is very short and the gameplay is quite repetitive for the asking price. It’s really unfortunate that the game hasn’t reached the same level of success the anime series is getting because there are some aspects of the game with massive potential. Fingers crossed the dev team at ILINX continue to tweak and polish the gameplay to hopefully make this the Black Clover game more people want to jump into.
A PS4 review code was provided by Bandai Namco Australia for the purpose of this review.