Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 07.06.2018

Review for Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time on PlayStation 4

Launching as an OAV, Yoh Yoshinari's Little Witch Academia has built up a solid fan-base on both sides of the ocean thanks to its prominent place on Netflix. It has since then built up two anime seasons, along with two manga series, and all are highly enjoyable. Now, this game is delivering a wholly new story from the creator of those anime series, studio TRIGGER, with input from series creator Yoshinari. Promising dungeon crawling, adventure, scrolling beat em' ups and plenty of fan service (not that kind of "fan-service"...), series fans were heavily hyped, but now the game is here, was it worth the wait?

Like many anime tie-in titles, Chamber of Time kicks straight into the main story, taking for granted the audience's familiarity with the source material and giving only a cursory amount of exposition on the basic premise and each of the main cast via short FMVs. It's perfunctory but mostly sufficient, but honestly the source material is worth experiencing and short enough to not require a huge investment of time, so anyone vaguely interested in this game would be wise to spend a little time on it. Things make more sense and, generally, it's all a lot more enjoyable.

Now, that that's out of the way... Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time tells the story of Akko, a hyperactive and excited young witch trying to follow in her hero's footsteps by attending Luna Nova, a Hogwarts-style school that teaches everything from broom flying to potion making and, of course, plenty of the arcane arts. Akko is a bit of a bumbling idiot, despite her good intentions, constantly messing up spells and getting into trouble with the staff.

Screenshot for Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time on PlayStation 4

The story opens on Akko once again getting into deep trouble with the faculty and, as a result, she is forced to clean and organise the huge library. Hundreds of books are in disarray and she works hard to overcome this, picking up three and putting them back before settling in for a good six-hour nap. During this nap, a shadowy individual decides to help her out a little by leaving a not at all foreboding book next to her sleeping body. Upon waking and returning the book to the shelf, Akko opens up a secret entrance to a world of side-scrolling beat 'em up action within the Horologium Chamber. In the story this has caused Akko and friends to get stuck in a groundhog day style time loop, living out the same 24 hours over and over again. The girls have to solve the mystery of the chamber, escape the loop, and repair the fragile space-time continuum.

Chamber of Time has a strange balance to it. There are two big aspects of the game. Inside the Horologium Chamber is a dungeon crawling game where the girls can collect magical keys and experience various different worlds, each pulling inspiration from side-scrolling classics. Outside of the Horologium Chamber, Akko roams the halls of Luna Nova, speaking to characters and taking on various tasks and activities. Students who need help studying, secret coins hidden, following handwritten riddles, or just hunting down fruit tarts. Completing these usually means being at the right place at the right time, and that "right time" can get awfully tricky. The game has a clock constantly ticking away in the top corner of the screen, each day beginning at 7 a.m. and resetting at midnight.

To accomplish these, Akko mostly needs to speak to people but she can also learn various spells to overcome repeated obstacles, such as being able to levitate over things, put large guards to sleep, and so on. Magic can only be used in certain places, easily identifiable by huge magic sigils on the floor. Due to Akko's lack of proficiency with the arcane arts, she requires a specific potion for the type of spell being cast; these are purchased with currency won from the dungeon crawling. There are also items to find in the dungeon crawling to proceed with various quests.

Screenshot for Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time on PlayStation 4

At first, this seems to have a lot of promise; there are set periods during the day where specific things happen and they have to be experienced to progress onto the next part of the quest. Reliving the day and learning each time where to go and predicting what to do is enjoyable and satisfying. Similarly, the layout of the school begins to become second nature (thank goodness because the map is appalling; why does it not show a relative point of "You are here"?! Just "You are in this room"?!) and suddenly Akko is flying through the halls, completing quest after quest in no time at all. Then it resets… and it sucks. Understandably, since the day resets, these quests are all undone. Thankfully, they no longer appear, right? Wrong. Thanks to the terrible map and the huge amount of quests, the map just shows "Hey, there's something to do in this room!", only to discover it's a previously completed quest. It's absolutely ridiculously bad and ruins the entire flow of the adventure style elements.

The other part of the game, the scrolling beat 'em up meets dungeon crawler is sadly just as flawed as the adventure sections. The biggest issue here is that it's all too easy. Even without any real grinding, any of the content can be utterly obliterated just by using cheap and cheesy tactics. Wandered in on a boss of a far too high level? No problem! Just stand out of its super slow and highly telegraphed attacks and fire the odd couple of projectiles off. Sometimes even that isn't necessary, with bosses just standing there and taking the punishment dished out. The levels have some real duds in them, too. In particular, a truly stupid minecart section that drags on and on and on with nothing happening and no explanation as to why for huge periods of time. It's unbelievable; honestly around five whole minutes of nothing happening. Nothing.

Screenshot for Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time on PlayStation 4

The basics behind the combat sections are all quite solid. There is a cast of girls to create a three-person team from, and each is unique enough to make them worth playing with. There's a standard RPG stats system, grinding through stages to power-up stats like STAM and INT to increase things like damage output, health bars, and MP bars. The face buttons have various attacks, there's a dodge roll and a sprint, and then there are special spell abilities. There is a considerable catalogue of spells to unlock, level up, and equip to each of characters. It's the most polished part of this highly flawed creation.

The art and animation are fine. There are some original anime style cut-scenes that look great and the whole experience is fully voiced by the original Japanese cast, but after just a few hours of play, the audience will never, ever want to hear those voices again! During the beat 'em up sections, every time an attack is launched the character yells the same thing. Over and over and over; it's absolutely maddening and the only way to deal with it is to mute and play some background music. Outside of the dungeons, the voices, for some reason, are not at all synced to the mouths of their speakers - with the characters mindlessly flapping their lips like a bad dub.

Screenshot for Little Witch Academia - Chamber of Time on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Fans of Little Witch Academia will find something to do here in Chamber of Time. There's an original story from TRIGGER that is genuinely enjoyable and the interactions between the likeable cast are all great. It's just a shame that every element of gameplay is so massively flawed in so many ways. The groundhog day style repeating story was so promising and yet it has been produced in such a terrible fashion. There are plenty of good elements to the dungeon crawling, yet the levels themselves are dull and frustrating. A big disappointment.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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