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Review

Review: Little Witch Academia – Chamber of Time

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As a gaming-focu­sed site, ani­me is some­thing we rare­ly dis­cuss. But if we did, Litt­le Witch Aca­de­mia would be one of the first modern ani­me that we would recom­mend thanks to its won­der­ful cast of cha­rac­ters and the various shen­anigans that hap­pen every epi­so­de. Cham­ber of Time aimed to cap­tu­re some of what made the ani­me so gre­at, but fails in almost every regard.

For tho­se that have yet to expe­ri­ence the Litt­le Witch Aca­de­mia ani­me, Cham­ber of Time offers brief intro­duc­tions for each of the main cha­rac­ters plus a gene­ral over­view of the anime’s pre­mi­se. Sin­ce the ori­gi­nal series focu­sed litt­le on an over­ar­ching sto­ry­line, ins­tead having each epi­so­de being some­what self-con­tai­ned, it’s easy to jump into the game wit­hout being too con­fu­sed. Cham­ber of Time takes place just befo­re sum­mer break at the magi­cal aca­de­my Luna Nova, whe­re young witch Akko dis­co­vers a hid­den room lin­ked to the academy’s libra­ry. Akko’s curio­si­ty leads to her and some of her fri­ends being trap­ped in a time loop, being forced to repeat the same day over and over with no idea how to escape.

Game­play in Cham­ber of Time is main­ly split bet­ween wan­de­ring Luna Nova for clues on how to end the the loop, and explo­ring various dun­ge­ons that are unlo­cked through the sto­ry and side­quests. Luna Nova is rather lar­ge and fea­tures many dif­fe­rent NPCs to talk to, many of whom will have quests for you to com­ple­te. At first it’s cool to explo­re are­as that have appeared in the ani­me, but it quick­ly beco­mes a cho­re to explo­re the aca­de­my. Akko moves rather slow­ly, and it’s only pos­si­ble to fast tra­vel from the spar­se amounts of save points. Adding to this is the spell sys­tem, as Akko requi­res dif­fe­rent types of poti­ons to cast cer­tain spells. Unlo­cking a save point takes one spell, and tra­vel­ling bet­ween them is ano­t­her spell. This sys­tem would be more beara­ble if you just had to unlock spells ins­tead of also having to buy mul­ti­ple poti­ons just to make explo­ring less tedious.

The most egre­gious issue is not explo­ring Luna Nova howe­ver, it’s the time loop mecha­nic. As you explo­re Luna Nova, time will con­ti­nuous­ly move when not in a menu or tal­king to someo­ne. When it reaches mid­ni­ght, the day is restar­ted and you’re sent back to Akko’s room. NPC posi­ti­ons, side­quests and events are all time depen­dent, making fin­ding spe­ci­fic cha­rac­ters a pain. The map also only shows if there’s a side­quest in an area, not the exact loca­ti­on or even what quest it is. This beco­mes annoy­ing later on when the map con­ti­nues to show quests that have alrea­dy been com­ple­ted.

Dun­ge­ons in Cham­ber of Time aren’t much fun eit­her. You collect dun­ge­on keys during the sto­ry and from various side­quests. Regu­lar keys are used to access the main set of dun­ge­ons, while small keys unlock dun­ge­ons that are short and usual­ly good for grin­ding items or xp. Dun­ge­ons are fair­ly bland, made up of a small hand­ful of room types that gene­ral­ly look the same. Each play­a­ble cha­rac­ter has three basic attacks, along with a set of 6 spells that can be set befo­re ent­e­ring a dun­ge­on. As with most beat ’em ups, the goal of each dun­ge­on is to defeat the boss while defea­ting basic enemies along the way. In the main dun­ge­ons the­re are many dif­fe­rent paths and extra rooms, but the­re is litt­le rea­son to devia­te from the fas­test path to the boss. Bos­ses give a lot of xp and items, and are gene­ral­ly qui­te weak if you’re any­whe­re near the sug­gested dun­ge­on level.

We won’t min­ce words here: Com­bat is awful in Cham­ber of Time. Each character’s basic attacks feel clun­ky to use and most can’t even be used as com­bos. Becau­se of this, there’s litt­le rea­son to use more than one of the three basic attacks. Spells don’t fare much bet­ter thanks to how often they’re reu­sed, just with dif­fe­rent ele­ments each time. The­re are a lot of spells that can be unlo­cked as you level up cha­rac­ters, but they all lack impact com­pa­red to the alrea­dy lack­lust­re regu­lar attacks. Cham­ber of Time fails to even get the basics of a beat ’em up cor­rect, and the bland dun­ge­ons do litt­le to make things more enjoy­a­ble.

The only real are­as that Cham­ber of Time suc­ceeds in are pre­sen­ta­ti­on and voice acting, and even then the for­mer is very incon­sis­tent. Cha­rac­ter models are fan­tastic, emu­la­ting the 2D art of the ani­me per­fec­t­ly. Each cha­rac­ter is ani­ma­ted well, inclu­ding a lot of come­dic faci­al expres­si­ons. Every cha­rac­ter in the game is voi­ced too, even unim­portant NPCs. It was a wel­co­me sur­pri­se to find out that every sin­gle line of dia­lo­gue has voice acting, some­thing that many Japa­ne­se games don’t do. It’s a shame that none of the envi­ron­ments have the same atten­ti­on to detail, as most are­as look extre­me­ly plain and unin­te­res­ting. Dun­ge­ons are espe­ci­al­ly poor, most having ugly back­grounds and some awful ene­my designs. The dif­fe­rence in qua­li­ty bet­ween the cha­rac­ter models and ever­ything else is incredi­b­ly jar­ring.

As for the qua­li­ty of the PC port, it’s com­pa­ra­ble to many of Ban­dai Namco’s other recent PC releases such as Sword Art Online: Fatal Bul­let. Per­for­mance is accep­ta­ble, though the sys­tem requi­re­ments are fair­ly high con­si­de­ring how most are­as lack detail. As with Fatal Bul­let, key­board and mou­se sup­port is some­what lacking. You can’t use a mou­se for navi­ga­ting menus or the map. Con­si­de­ring how often you’ll be loo­king at the map to find sto­ry events or side­quests, you’re bet­ter off using a con­trol­ler. One wel­co­me fea­ture in the PC port is the inclu­si­on of both PS4 and Xbox but­ton icons, some­thing that is rare­ly seen in PC games.

Conclusion

Litt­le Witch Aca­de­mia: Cham­ber of Time was an incredi­ble disap­point­ment as a fan of the series, and even more so as a fan of beat ’em ups. After com­ing off the ama­zing Dragon’s Crown Pro, the many pro­blems with Cham­ber of Time beco­me even more appa­rent. I’d honest­ly say to anyo­ne rea­ding this review that while you should skip this, you should defi­ni­te­ly watch the far supe­ri­or ani­me.

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