The world of Black Clover. A place where people are blessed with the ability to harness mana into magical power. This anime/manga shonen series gets its first video game iteration thanks to Bandai Namco through Black Clover: Quartet Knights, and it’s your typical anime action game. They attempted at something different; by making it a more team-oriented online brawler. However, the lack of gameplay depth and balancing issues make it a short-lived experience for fans of the series.
Even if you’re a die-hard fan, Quartet Knights fails to provide enough to justify its full price point.
Quartet Knights delivers a story campaign. It’s divided into 10 episodes, with a major battle in each one. It’s a unique story featuring Black Clover’s main characters, and it proves to be entertaining, to say the least. The plot and shenanigans are presented via a mix of gameplay cutscenes, animé clips, and animé stills of characters with text boxes, completing the illusion of Quartet Knights as an OVA, or perhaps a collection of cut filler episodes for the series.
The one where you find a young Yami
“The problem Quartet Knights faces is in giving players a reason to boot it up again after a couple of play sessions.”
The story starts off by giving you the gist of the series’ setting, but provides little context to each available character. I was expecting more spotlights on individual characters as I went through the campaign, but the main focus here was on moving the story forward.
While the anime series revolved around Asta, the boy unable to harness mana, Quartet Knights put the protagonist in a support role, focused in his team’s captain Yami.
Timeline-wise, the game takes place after the earlier arcs in the animé series, since the characters’ teams have been organized, and the Black Bull squad is tasked with investigating a specific dungeon. Yami, the team’s captain, goes off on his own during a battle. The others search for him after the battle, only to find a younger version of their team captain. Young Yami and a character called Karna, are at the center of the OVA-like story.
It took around 3-4 hours to get through the campaign, and after the credits, players are given the option to go through the same story, just with another character’s perspective. I found that only one other perspective was worth exploring, while the others were fodder, functioning just a way to earn in-game currency.
The whole campaign felt like a tutorial of sorts, a way to get players introduced to the gameplay and the objectives. This is a 4v4 team multiplayer game by design, with more emphasis on map objectives. Each character is designed to fill specific roles on their team - for example, damage dealers or support characters. The trouble is, the game’s broken. I can simply ignore the impacts that support characters have on team composition, as damage dealers dish out too much damage; also, melee attacks are crazy when they get close, and the range class is all about zone control.
I usually consider map-specific objectives in multiplayer games, such as tasking players to escort a moving crystal or capturing certain zones, to be treats to me as a player. But the need for player skill is absent in Black Clover: Quartet Knights, as mashing your character’s skills seem to be enough for success, online or offline. The way you can customize each character is also simple. You unlock cards by spending Quartet Knight’s in-game currency. These provide traits that slightly improve the performances of specific skills. Some cards reduce a specific skill’s cooldown, while another allows a character to trigger their passive heal sooner rather than later. They’re minor changes that don’t outright modify how you can play a specific character. Most of the cards between characters are similar, and unlocking each one just to garner slight improvements was discouraging to go through time and again.
Black Clover: Quartet Knights has a hefty amount of content to unlock, though, such as new options for character customization or extra colors for each character. But that’s all that’s available in the base game.
“They attempted at something different; by making it a more team-oriented online brawler. However, the lack of gameplay depth and balancing issues make it a short-lived experience for fans of the series.”
Spam skills to win!
During online matches, once everybody starts mashing all of their skills, it was hard to parse who’s who, let alone manage what’s going on. It can get crazy, and dying results in your waiting for your respawn timer in order to get back into the action. To add more to the chaos, every stage is equipped with items that you can pick up and use when needed. One item can heal, while there’s one that gives you invisibility for a short duration. These are a great inclusions as they provide a small edge that can even tip the scales and turn the tide of battle when triggered at the right time.
Each of Quartet Knight’s stages aren’t so different from each other, providing minimal changes when it comes to how you should tackle a match. They are mostly open spaces that are actually advantageous to characters who excel in ranged combat. There’s different locations - from a forest to dungeon ruins - but the actual layouts and level design don’t affect one’s enjoyment of the match or provide many character or class-specific advantages.
Online functionality works as intended, and most of the time, the only issue was matchmaking. This will be an easy fix via a future patch, but it’s just weird to get matched up with four players going against four AI characters. This happened to me a couple of times, with some teams having only one human player on the other side.
At the end of the day, I actually had fun with Black Clover: Quartet Knights. The story was entertaining enough that I went through it in one sitting without feeling the urge to take a break. The lack of context for each character worked well since it encouraged me to check out the animé series, which might be the game’s ultimate objective. How each character was presented was done well, from the voice acting to the animation, and when all was said and done, I wanted to see more of them interacting with one another.
Fans of the series should have a treat thanks to Quartet Knights’ exclusive, unique story, in addition to the ability to play as their favorite characters. The problem Quartet Knights faces is in giving players a reason to boot it up again after a couple of play sessions. The gameplay has the potential to grow stale early on, losing its appeal fast once you’re satisfied with every corner of the story. As a multiplayer game, the low skill ceiling of the gameplay fails to grip the player’s interest or entice more play time, but the overall package succeeds in making the player curious about the characters and world of Black Clover.
6 / 10
An exclusive, unique story for the video game with high production values
Seventeen characters with their sets of abilities and team roles
Spam to win: not much strategy or skill required
Support classes seem lackluster
Matchmaking issues can be discouraging
What I Played
Completed the game’s story mode
Went through the story again through Yami
Played a series of online matches
Unlocked various cosmetics and customization options for several characters
Played on: PlayStation 4 Standard
[This review is based on a PS4 review copy provided to Too Much Gaming by Bandai Namco.]