Name: Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time
Developer: A+ Games, Studio Trigger
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Released: 15.05.2018 (West release, 30, November 2017 in Asia)
Platforms: PC, PlayStation
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
Little did I know that a lame, innocent and childish anime could be so catchy!
Anime in my eyes has always been a peculiar thing for especially interested (yes, I know that Pokemon is also anime, but feel that they are their own breed again). But lately, I’ve opened up a little to this world, by testing a lot of anime games (which makes me look at the series as well). Bandai Namco has given me a lot of experiences and opportunities here, and this time Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is next.
In order to get something out of the story of Chamber of Time, one should have seen season one or at least half of the season to understand the various characters in this game (it is an opportunity to see a recap video of all the important characters in the game from the series, but I recommend watching the series available on Netflix).
Brief summary, Akko, our main character, has a summer holiday from Luna Nova, but has been given the task of clearing the library as she stays in school during the summer vacation. On the first day, she receives a mysterious book by an unknown girl leading to a hidden door in the library. In this hidden room there is a big clock that Akko of course manages to do something about, which means that everybody at school experiences the same day every day, in other words, the ability to manipulate/return in time. Akko and several of her friends discover this and try to stop the continuous day-looping.
Chamber of Time may not be a ground-breaking story, but it can keep interest with interesting characters. Although all characters may fall under a typical “standard anime gang” (the clumsy, arrogant, the clever, etc.), all of them are well-developed from character design, voice acting to script. The story is mostly displayed in a good way and feels that you are watching an anime episode at times. For those who are not so familiar with anime (including myself), the story of the Little Witch Academia series and the game may seem very familiar, for me it felt very similar to the Harry Potter series. It’s just a change of setting and another friends, it’s so to say the Japanese anime Harry Potter series.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time has done few things right, such as the visuals in the game. Presentation of all the characters and the school Luna Nova is very similar to the anime version from the series. Now, it’s also said that some of the lighting they use may be a bit hard against PlayStation’s hardware, which can explain the unstable frame rate (explained more under the gameplay section). But the animations and remaining graphics look incredibly good, especially during the cutscenes and dialogues, the only thing I want to complain about is the transitions between the different “feeling transitions” in the animations, they are very abrupt. Wish there was more flow in the transitions.
Music and soundtrack are on point and sometimes very catchy.
Although the history and graphics of the Chamber of Time may seem impressive and well-made, the experience fades dramatically when it comes to the actual gameplay. The game is mainly divided into two parts: exploring/adventuring and dungeon crawling. The first part can sometimes seem slow and unnecessary as most of the time is to go round to retrieve assignments to either main story or side assignments, the other part is exploring a number of dungeons in the form of 2D action sequences in different areas, avoiding traps, eliminating various enemies, bosses and, not least, find treasures.
You can bring up to three characters to explore, each of which has their own ability and unique sets of attacks in light, medium, heavy and running attacks. Everyone also has a set of six spells. You can customize all characters with attack sets and spell sets. Exploring dungeons and defeat bosses provides a huge amount of loot that also provides an additional customization option.
All of this certainly sounds interesting, and it would have been if there were no small problems. There aren’t much entertaining things going on by exploring the school, there are no fast-travel options, the frame rate is very unstable as soon as there are three or more NPCs on the screen. For my part, it was not rewarding to explore the school to keep interest and I almost couldn’t wait to explore the dungeons.
Unfortunately, there is a bit missing here too, performance is sometimes extremely unstable making it very difficult to respond to hostile attacks/avoid traps. Controls are also a small problem (more details under control section), AI is not the best I’ve seen, especially when I was in boss fights. Very often the boss tries to attack you beyond his attack range.
Now everything is not badly developed either, some of the side assignments are fun and not least, the use of day-looping mechanics in some interesting ways.
Akko and her friends move sluggishly on the battlefield, making the experience unpleasant when exploring dungeons and in combat. It was a few times I felt my character didn’t do as I wanted, and the response time from giving a command to the executed command is performed is at times very slow and visible, which is destroying the experience a lot.
On the positive side, the controls are easy to learn, and I did not feel that any buttons were “misplaced”.
Chamber of Time might not be a game to be played again once you have finished the story, of course, some side assignments can be completed if you haven’t done those. But beyond that, I think Chamber of Time will be placed back on the shelf once it’s one hundred percent completed. But nowadays there are many games that fall under this “trap”, the newly launched God of War does exactly the same. Those games is meant to be played to get the experience and story.
Little Witch Academia: The Chamber of Time might not be a must-buy, but I think the game will fall into taste for those who are fan of the series. There are some fun sequences in the game, and the character is lovely. Gameplay may not be the best, but the story and graphics are something you should experience, especially if you’ve seen the Netflix series. (Recommended!)