The Academy: The First Riddle wants to be a mix between Professor Layton and Harry Potter. It manages to combine a few ideas from those two series, but fails to capture the magic that made both of them so entertaining. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a great one either.

You’re playing a new kid called Sam who’s just started at the titular academy. After your first night things start to get weird – there’s a break-in, a spectral bear and a mysterious hooded loner. Inevitably, you take it upon yourself to figure out what’s going on, which leads you into a deeper mystery.

You move the game along by solving puzzles, and it’s here things start to fall apart a bit. The puzzles test your grey matter but never in super interesting ways. And sometimes they’re just plain confusing. Some poor writing doesn’t help things either.

Some of the puzzles are too easy, and others veer too far to the other way. Quite often you’ll find yourself guessing your way out of the trickier ones, then exclaiming an “eh!?!” when the answer is revealed.

Riddle Me This

It’s a real shame. The game looks gorgeous, from the character models to the architecture of the school itself, and the story is intriguing enough that you’d like to find out more. But then another confusing puzzle comes along and you glower at the screen for a bit before jabbing answers at random.

You’re going to want to like The Academy: The First Riddle. You’re going to try your hardest to fall in love with it. And then it’s going to do something that annoys you and you’re not going to be able to get over it. When it should be clear it’s confusing and when it should be tough it’s far too easy.

There’s potential here, which makes its problems all the more annoying. The Academy: The First Riddle has a lot of heart, and it understands what it wants to be, but it fails when it tries to scratch your brain and that’s just not good enough.

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