Bandai Namco’s 2018 lineup is looking pretty good, with their stellar releases ranging from Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and Dragon Ball FighterZ to the upcoming Dark Souls: Remastered and Soulcalibur VI. The publisher’s latest JRPG offering for gamers is the anime-inspired Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, so let’s see if this game meets our expectations in this review!
Developed by A+ Games, the video game is based on Studio Trigger’s hit anime series titled Little Witch Academia (LWA), which aired last year. This story about a group of aspiring tween witches garnered many fans from around the world which may have led to the development of this game.
The series’ protagonist, the adorable Atsuko (Akko) Kagari, returns as the lead in Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time. The game is a combination of side-scrolling JRPG, visual novel elements and dungeon-crawling action where we follow Akko and her friends’ journey in solving mysteries involving time and whatnot in their witchcraft school, the Luna Nova Magical Academy.
Fortunately, you don’t need to watch the anime in order to play this game. At the beginning of the game, there’s a refresher of the anime series which you can opt for if you want; just so you can get a feel of the anime and what it’s about. As for LWA fans, oh boy, it feels great to revisit the cast of characters, even if you have to meet Luna Nova’s uptight educators, not five minutes into the game…
During my Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time play time, I experienced zilch lagging nor disruption in my gameplay. It was as smooth as silk.
As for combat gameplay smoothness, there are multiple action options (ranging from basic attacks to magical combos) for players to utilise in order to defeat enemies. The fighting scenes in the side-scrolling dungeon brawls may look messy as there are multiple moving characters on the screen doing all sorts of actions but this is nothing of worry to players because your total control of the game is unaffected the slightest bit at all.
As a typical JRPG, the game has main quests and side quests. Some of these quests involve dungeon brawling aka theatrical wand-waving actions, which are loads of fun if you like casting spells and unleashing your magical capabilities onto those poor enemies.
Combat gameplay is pretty straightforward; though in some situations, you have to avoid obstacles and fight enemies at the same time. Every time you we descended into said dungeons, you are allowed to bring a party of three. Players will be playing as the party leader with two support characters (AI-controlled). From seven witches (Akko, Lotte, Sucy, Amanda, Constanze, Jasminka and Diana), players can rotate playing and fielding each of them to make sure that each character’s stats are matching-ly levelled. Each witch has their own specialties and unique qualities so it’s something you should take note of.
As seen in the above screenshot, you can enhance/upgrade their stats. For RPG first-timers who are unfamiliar with how JRPG-style character upgrading works, don’t fret too much on it because you can still fight in the earlier levels without needing any character upgrades at all; to prove it, I actually completed three quests with zero upgrades.
While some JRPG veterans may scoff at this, one of the best parts of Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is that it doesn’t push RPG newcomers into the deep end of the pool (coughs, Bloodborne, coughs); instead, it gently eases you into the pool with floaties so that newbies can learn and familiarise themselves with the game’s JRPG gameplay mechanics.
One of my gripes with this game is that some ‘above ground’ minor tasks/quests were incredibly slow-paced. Moving from one end of Luna Nova to the other end involves a lot of walking. So I would advise you to engage in some short breaks in between your playing sessions so that you don’t feel burned out from constantly pressing down the dash button; yup I’m guilty as charged.
On top of that, the game’s map spots a vague and confusing design. Basically, I would rather take on those dungeon bosses any time of the day than to take a very long walk, say, to “Find Carmen”. No doubt you will be putting a huge amount of hours playing this game…
Moving onto the game’s visual design, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is a standard 2D + 2.5D affair. Players will also be treated with Little Witch Academia-styled cutscene animations, courtesy of Studio Trigger so that’s a plus. Overall, the graphics’ quality is pretty decent, certainly no complaints from me in this department.
As we go about the game, we will bump into many familiar faces and places (like Akko, Lotte and Sucy’s room) from the anime. Since I haven’t finish the game yet, I don’t know if Shiny Chariot (aka Professor Ursula’s famous persona) will make her grand appearance but I can reassure fans of the anime that her poster is on the wall right next to Akko’s bed, as originally seen in LWA!
As a fan of LWA, I’m happy to report that our loveable witches’ personalities are pretty much intact in the game: for example, Jasminka is always eating some snacks, techie Constanze is quiet as ever, Diana is constantly flipping her hair and Sucy’s obvious obsession with potions and poisons among others. On top of that, all the characters are voice-acted in Japanese.
The evolving shippy friendship between Akko Kagari and Diana Cavendish were one of the main highlights of the anime so I’m extremely happy that the game actually gave this popular twosome some substantial screen time. Studio Trigger, I see what you’re trying to do and I totes approve it. All these anime-influences will obviously sit well with LWA’s fans and may prove to be Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time’s strong selling point.
Aside from the aforementioned minor grievances, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is undeniably a fun and simple game. All in all, I would personally recommend this title to you if you’re a fan of the anime (the fanservice effort is certified A), fangirl squeals and all. However, if you aren’t a fan (psst, you can watch the anime on Netflix), this title still has much to offer with elements of visual novel, side-scrolling brawling and good ole JRPG action!
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is currently available for Steam PC (RM149) and PlayStation 4 (RM199). We got to play the game (PS4) via a review code courtesy of the publisher, Bandai Namco.
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