By Alexander O. Cuaycong
and Anthony L. Cuaycong
YOH YOSHINARI’s Little Witch Academia is an anime franchise about young girls, witchcraft, and friendship. Following Akko Kagari, a student enrolled in the Luna Nova Magical Academy, it focuses on her journey to master the arts of magic. Akko slowly gets accustomed to what she can do. And while not naturally talented, she is able to show that with perseverance and a little help, trials and tribulations can be overcome.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time shares the same dose of humor, audio-visual flair, and thematic considerations as its source material, but it’s combined with a role-playing, side-scrolling, beat-’em-up experience not unlike, say, Dragon’s Crown. This gives a nice blend of action, adventure, and story; the light-hearted plot is deftly mixed with fast-paced combat.
In Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, players follow Akko as she finds a room in the school’s library called the “Horologium Chamber.” The discovery of the chamber throws everyone around her in a time loop, forcing the same day to repeat over and over. Only she and her friends Sucy, Lotte, Amanda, Constanze, Jasminka, and Diana are able to notice it, with everyone else remaining oblivious to its effects. Needless to say, they are then compelled to navigate and explore the Academy, uncover its secrets, and find a way to normalize the passage of time.
On the surface, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time looks absolutely gorgeous, and for good reason. It manages to capture the exact same art style and feel shown and conveyed by its manga and anime siblings. The game constantly pops out on the screen with vibrant colors and expressive imagery, and while it certainly looks cartoony compared to other games in the genre, it isn’t out of place and doesn’t detract from what it’s trying to convey to its audience. Its cutscenes, made by the television series’ animators themselves, certainly help to convey its unique vision. If nothing else, it stands out in how good it looks and how it captures the dynamics of the franchise.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time’s faithfulness to its source material can be seen in its gameplay as well. In the Exploration phases, players are able to run around and explore the Academy to their heart’s desire, talk to various non-playable characters, and complete the many side quests available to them. Optional objectives abound, and players will enjoy going through each day to meet certain NPCs (non-player characters) in certain locations at certain times.
Given how large and expansive the playable area is, players can—and probably will— get lost the first few times in. That said, there are loads of fun to be had in wandering its hallways and many passageways; seemingly, there are always more secrets to uncover. The site open to players is small at first, but slowly opens up with time and exploration, rewarding them with better routes and shorter paths in between, as well as more alternatives on how to spend their day.
It’s in the Battle phases, though, where Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time truly shines. Akko and her friends have access to various light and heavy attacks, aside from being able to change equipment and cast all sorts of magic. Choosing what dungeon to go through is quite easy and its concept is simple and straightforward, with its RPG-like feel and quality evident throughout. There’s a nice degree of variation between characters, with each being unique and having her own move and magic sets to resort to. The extent and degree of character customization in terms of equipment and items, not to mention the heady amount of dungeons to choose from and the variety of enemies to overcome, make it a decidedly entertaining game.
True, there are negatives. Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time does try its best to offer unpredictability, but it nonetheless suffers from tediousness and—perhaps unavoidably—repetition. As expected from a story where the day loops over and over, it’s all too easy for players to find themselves running through the same hallways and rooms in the Academy. And depending on the progress (or relative lack thereof) being made, frustration can set in.
Small programming oversights exist as well, with foreground sprites occasionally covering characters and obstructing vision, and sound and visual glitches occurring when spells are cast. And worst of all are the lags; they don’t happen often, but when they do, they tend to draw players out of the moment. Which is a shame considering the game’s painstaking efforts to come up with an immersive story filled with colorful characters that add to its lore.
Still and all, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time remains worthy of purchase. With its unique premise, engrossing presentation, and competent fighting mechanics, it ranks as a solid action RPG (role-playing game) offering. Certainly, it’s a must-buy, true-to-its-roots release for fans of the series out to dig their heels in the familiar and revel in their much-loved characters’ progress.