Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is a whimsical trip to the Luna Nova Academy that finds players doing favours for their favourite magic-wielding classmates (and less than favourite professors) from the delightful anime. Capturing the visual style of the show with some wonderful character animations, it’s a joy to behold and provides some great fun in getting to know and interact with the school and its students. Somehow, though, it also manages to be a lifeless, tiresome slog that may bore many of its players to sleep.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time kicks off with Akko, the hapless, magically-deficient heroine, sort of accidentally locking everyone in a witchy take on the plot from Groundhog Day. After Akko activates a device that forces time to loop the same day over and over again, she, Sucy, Lotte, and the other major characters from the cast attempt to free themselves from the device’s effects.
Part of doing this involves the magical gals doing all sorts of tasks around the academy, which the player is largely free to explore. It’s a sprawling facility of enchanted classrooms and minotaur janitors, and its halls are crammed with minor and major characters from the anime, all carrying on conversations and activities that the player can poke their heads in on.
These interactions often come as sidequests the player can pick up, such as finding candies for Jasminka, showing off magical skills for Ursula, looking for creepy dolls at night with Amanda, or doing all sorts of different things. There are a ton of sidequests around the school, giving players all sorts of excuses to spend time with the side characters and get to know some of the lore and side stories in the anime’s mythos.
Each character’s art looks incredible as well, capturing the look and feel of Little Witch Academia with their expressive gestures and animations. The characters look great as the player interacts with them, and just watching Akko jog, arms whipping in the air, feels so well-suited to the character. This sense of being among the characters and moving within the anime is the game’s biggest strength.
As for the sidequests players will be doing, they’re all tied to the game’s repeating single day, which means they are also tied to certain times of day. Players may pick up a task at noon from the cafeteria that can only be resolved in the morning of the next day, or by an item that can only be acquired at a specific moment during the day. This gives players a Majora’s Mask–like array of things to do and times to keep track of to complete an activity, adding a lot of thought to those activities.
However, the school is huge and the map isn’t as useful as it should be. It’s a flat map of a 3D location, which makes it easier to read, but it only indicates what room you’re in and not where you’re at in it. This means you’re often guessing if you’re going in the right direction, and while you can learn what a room is by walking near it, the game bafflingly makes you enter a room if you walk too close rather than tying it to hitting X.
It isn’t helped by old quests popping up on the map when a day loops. Players may feel like just grabbing every event listed on their maps, but will find themselves redoing old quests or picking up a dizzying amount of activities they have already started on previous days. Also, if players aren’t diehard fans, these quests often amount to tired fetching jobs, creating some tiresome activities with few decent rewards.
Not all of Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is spent exploring the school’s halls, as players will also need to take groups of three witches out into dungeons to battle monsters. This is where the game gets far weaker, though, as these beat ‘em up segments are clunky, at best.
The best part is that you have an array of witches to choose from, bringing Diane, Jasminka, Constanze, and many more into the fray. Each has their own basic attacks, although these are often just variants on ranges (although some, like Sucy, offer character-specific poison attacks). This lack of variation can be a downer, although it makes it easy to just choose your favourite characters and stick with using them (although unused characters don’t level up, and later stages get ruthless QUICK).
Each of the witches in Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time can be equipped with spells the player levels up as well. All characters pull from this same giant pool of available spells, allowing players to create their own custom builds for each character, but since they can all technically use any spell, it just takes some of the life out of things. It does make sense that they’d all learn the same spells at the same school, though, so it does stick with the theme in a way.
Combat is plodding, mindless, and riddled with bad hit detection. Characters move in slow, stilted steps, making it hard to get out of the way of enemy hits. The characters often have dodges or blocks, but there are so many spell effects going on that it’s hard to know when to use them without doing so way in advance, wasting time in combat. Players will get hit by traps and spells with visible space between them and the attack, making it hard to judge how to dodge or block. Enemies also often get sudden upsurges in damage that will wipe your party.
The look of Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time and the time it spends with its characters gives the game a great deal of charm, but its play styles continually drag it down. The characters are as lovable and interesting as they are in the show, but the clunky combat and needlessly complicated exploration mean most players are better off just sticking to the anime.
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