I recently bought this game after reading and loving the Let's Play
by Bobbin Threadbare over on the Something Awful forums, and I'm really enjoying it. In my experience, the demo doesn't give you a very good sense of the game, because it's a half-hour demo, but by the time I finished making a character, the time was up.
This game is a lot of fun if you're the kind of person who really enjoys stat-heavy simulation games like Princess Maker or Long Live the Queen. Also, like Long Live the Queen, this game has a pretty steep learning curve; not because it was intentionally designed to be difficult, but because there are literally hundreds
of skills and stats to choose from, and it is utterly impossible to be good at everything. Fortunately, there's a really well put together Wiki
that explains what each skill and attribute actually does, and the relations between them. Understanding that goes a long way towards succeeding in the game events.
This is also a very, very deep game in the sense that the player is more or less in charge of the game experience. It's a great game for role-play, because your actions and choices, not only in events but in planning your daily activities, strongly dictate how the character will grow. It's possible to go through the entire game experiencing no more adventures than what random events throw in your path, excelling at your classes and playing a fairly normal student life. (As normal as life for a mage-in-training can be, anyway.) Or, you could go in completely the opposite direction and seek trouble and bold action at every turn, which would give you a much more Harry Potter-style, adventurous hero experience. You can form your own coalition of pranksters and rogues and spread terror and green slime throughout the Academagia, or spend all your time playing fetch with your familiar, digging in the school gardens, or crafting items. Become an athletic star! Duel everyone who looks at you sideways! The choice really is yours.
The one thing this game lacks, which may or may not make a difference in how you spend your money, is a central narrative. I don't know if the developers have plans for more storyline action down the line, but currently, all of the story occurs in self-contained adventures and random events, and in whatever your imagination does to weave those things together. So if you really need a game to be story-driven, well, this isn't the game for you. It's also worth noting that some events in game are still quite buggy, so if that bothers you, well, buyer beware. I haven't noticed any really crippling glitches--mostly just minor issues like rewards not being given where they should be.
All that said, I really enjoy Academagia, as both a roleplaying opportunity and as a very well fleshed-out world. If you're into world-building, you will absolutely LOVE the amount of lore available for you peruse throughout the game. To be honest, the world of Elumia is so well fleshed out that entire novels could be (and perhaps have been, I haven't delved much into the fan base) written just about the lives of Academagia students. For a fan of both fantasy and school-life genres, this game is heaven.
Overall, my only lasting complaint with this game is the size of the text--I'd guess the font to be 9 or 10 point, which is just a tad too small for reading comfortably, especially for the reams of important text the game includes. Other than that issue, I'd give Academagia a 4.5 out of 5.