Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers

Arcane Arts Academy Review

Game: Arcane Arts Academy
Genre: Time Management Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also on mobile)
Developer|Publisher: Qubic Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $7.99 | UK £5.24 | EU € 7,99
Release Date: June 4th, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to Qubic Games

Many years ago, back when I bought myself my first iPad I discovered a game genre I hadn’t played before. In the words of Golden Girl Sophia: “Picture this…it was 2012 and I was super chuffed at having my own new iPad. Browsing through the AppStore I came across a strange-sounding title: Delicious Emily…..” That’s how it started, and the wording of that title alone made me curious enough to investigate. 

I found a game that was at its heart a time management game but it had something special: a strong story. And the Delicious Emily series isn’t one of a kind: check the website for GameHouse original stories and you will find there are many games that all have two things in common: time management and a story about a character that will appeal to you. 

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers

Check more closely and you will see the game I am reviewing on the Nintendo Switch is listed too: Arcane Arts Academy, one of the newer ones. I haven’t played it on mobile yet, so let’s see if Arcane Arts Academy, brought to the Switch by Qubic Games, fits the standard I’ve come to expect of entertaining gameplay and a great storyline. 

Erika a.k.a. Harry

We meet Erika, a girl who has always felt different and never really fit in. Her life changes when she discovers her grandma is a witch and that the bookstore/café she helps to manage actually contains a portal to the Arcane Arts Academy.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Grandma’s Bookstore. The Magic Book is a giveaway!

Everything falls into place when she enrols in the Academy. Even though it’s a struggle to adjust to a new life as a magical college student. She meets friends, finds enemies and a dark secret, all the while managing several shops and venues like a wand shop, a greenhouse and more. 

If you know the story of Harry Potter (and who hasn’t?) you can’t help but notice the similarities. An outsider entering the magic world, being different when it comes to actually performing magic and the dark secrets that somehow centre around Erika. Even the items you sell are familiar. Wizard robes with coloured scarves, different house plaques, wands and Mandrake roots. The writer has clearly been inspired by them, and it makes for an entertaining story.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Managing the magic item store

Efficiency is Key

The game starts you off with a little tutorial showing you how to run the first shop, Grandma’s bookstore. There are some staple articles in the shop that customers can ask for. Some are ready to go, others she has to prep before she can hand them out. People come to Erika’s counter or sit at a table waiting to be served. Aside from the books in the first store, there is coffee, cakes and other goodies to sell. All go onto a tray when Erika touches them. And from the tray, she serves her customers. 

If, after the first level, you are uncertain how to play you can always check the ” How to Play” section that’s accessible through the + button on the right JoyCon.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Running the greenhouse. See the Mandrake root under the counter?

The challenge in the game is to manage it all without going into a fully-fledged panic mode because customers are impatiently waiting and more and more come into the shop. This means you have to choose a route to walk, and order of things to do. Minimize time wasted and try to be prepared for the goods that you have to work on before you can serve them. In real-life terms, you must find the most efficient way, in true Lean Six Sigma fashion. Meanwhile, you get rewarded with money and stars if your customers are happy.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Erika in her first class

A bonus is added to the points you rake in by for instance checking out more than one client at the counter, making sure there are no dirty tables, serving people quickly and so on. Plus in every stage, there’s a cat called Sphinx that briefly pops up: find it and you are rewarded with extra points.

60 Levels to Go Alone or Together

What’s new in Arcane Arts Academy is a special feature that the Switch brings to the table: you can play the game with a friend or family member. Each takes a joy-con, and you’ll get your own assignment in the game. In the bookstore for example one will control Erika, the other Gran. I think it’s a brilliant idea to add that here, and I can just imagine this would be a fun pastime together.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Multiplayer. One player has the green dot controls, the other the purple one

The overall map of the game shows a nice layout of the school building. The 60 levels to beat are categorised on the map: the Bookshop, the Courtyard, the Glasshouse and so on.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
The map to the game and the school. See, Harry’s glasses!

With the diamonds you earn by completing each level as best you can buy items to decorate Erika’s dorm room. Nice to help her along, as the room has clearly seen better days.

In true mobile game fashion, there are many achievements to unlock, so Arcane Arts Academy is as challenging as you want it to be. Want to beat every level with the maximum of stars? Or want to earn enough diamonds to give Erika the glamorous room she deserves? Or do you want to play to unravel the story, in which case beating every level with the minimum of stars is okay too.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Sprucing up Erika’s room

Talking of the story: there’s a nice extra feature where you can watch all of the 120 story-driven cutscenes again in including an intro and outro for every level.

Use your Stylus…uh Wand

These games benefit from the speed with which you can use the touchscreen of your mobile device. On the Nintendo Switch, things can be a bit finicky. Using the buttons on the Joy-Cons to move around and do your thing isn’t really working out for me. A green marker shows you where you are and moving that, allows you to get items and bring them to the customer. But it’s too slow, and running around in different areas of the shop isn’t easy. It’s not just a matter of left or right or up and down.

I have found I can only play the game using the touch screen. It allows you to plan your route much better. The only way to get maximum stars is to line up several actions for Erika to do, prompting her to move as quickly as possible to the next task.

Arcane Arts Academy LadiesGamers review
Unlocking all achievements

Essentially this makes gameplay on the TV difficult too. The best way to manage the game is to prop your switch up on the table and use a stylus like the one that came with Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training.

Aside from the gameplay, the visuals are nice and the background tunes are catchy. It’s very fitting to the various situations and locations Erika finds herself in.

Conclusion – Hectic Store Management

Arcane Arts Academy is a good fit on the Nintendo Switch with the multiplayer added if you can manage the button control. Personally, I much preferred to use the touchscreen though. The price for the Nintendo Switch version is lower than the full price on mobile which is a plus!

I wouldn’t advise playing Arcane Arts Academy as a relaxation game, as you need your full attention and clear mind to manage the often frantic levels. What is nice though is that you can adjust the difficulty in the settings allowing you to gain the stars you need to pass the level more easily.

The story is good, and the challenge is great, as it always in these perfect mix of simulation/management games. If you like these type of games I’d say you can’t go wrong with Arcane Arts Academy at this price point.

Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot 
I like it a lot


  1. Oh I’ve really enjoyed Primrose Lake in the past. Glad to hear this holds up to the publisher’s usual content.

  2. I’ve actually been meaning to play Arcane Arts, but I’m behind on the Gamehouse games. Right now, I’m on Amber’s Hope, but I’m glad this game is fun. I’m also a huge fan of Harry Potter, despite the recent controversy surrounding the author.

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