BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment's Gamescom Event: Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time - Demo Review

  • System: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: APlus Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: JP Release: Nov 2017, NA/EU Release: Early 2018

What to Expect

Little Witch Academia is an anime developed by Studio Trigger, famous for their works on Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill. The game will feature an original story where Atsuko (Akko) and her friends explore through dungeons in a side-scrolling, action, beat ‘em up, role-playing game. Utilizing magical spells, these group of students will unveil the secrets of Luna Nova Academy in an attempt to escape the mysterious looping day.

Who it Caters to

Fans of Studio Trigger will find that the cel-shaded graphics do well in capturing the anime aesthetics of the show. Those who’ve played Dragon’s Crown, the Vanillaware and Atlus game title, will be familiar with role-playing game elements meshed with the beat ‘em up genre. Those who enjoy the lush, anime-inspired visuals or those who favor team-based action games will definitely want to pick this up.

Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time - Gameplay Trailer #1 | PS4, PC:

Gameplay

The controls play like a standard beat ‘em up games, so anyone familiar with the genre will be able to pick this up quickly. The face buttons are Weak Attack (Square), Medium Attack (Triangle), Strong Attack (Circle), and Jump (X). Holding the R1 button allows Akko to run for as long as the button is held. Holding down L1 and hitting Square, Triangle, or Circle button will do these spells respectively: summon a meteor from above that creates an explosion covering a small area, create a very active barrage of lighting from Akko’s hands, or make a pulsating, stationary orb that damages enemies walking into it.

If you would like to access far stronger spells, holding down Holding down L1 and R1 button while hitting the Square, Triangle, or Circle button will do these spells respectively: shoot a spread of purple orbs with a cone radius, summon a huge icicle that sprouts from the ground, or conjure up the Shiny Arc, a bow whose cinematic animation and attack reach the entire width of the screen. Your allies will also be able to do these spells and attacks, although seeing them avoid attacks is like watching someone slowly walk over a pit, their fall is inevitable.

Other unique elements of the game are also exist. Movement-wise, you can run, but you can also roll, do a slide that doubles as an attack, double jump, and do a jumping air dash. Grounded normal attacks have a basic system, but one that’s free-form enough to experiment in-depth. You can cancel Light Attack to Medium Attack, but you cannot chain it to a Heavy Attack. The Heavy Attack is a projectile orb that shoots and travels the length of the screen. Alongside canceling your Light Attack to Medium Attack, you’re allowed to cancel movement options into these attacks or out of them. This means you can this entire combination: run, slide, do a Light Attack, Medium Attack, jump and then do an air attack. Air attacks, unfortunately, don’t cancel into themselves, but they act as attacks with a long duration to protect Akko as she descends or gets a good strong attack to start your offense.

Enemies vary in types from flying dragons to minotaurs, their interaction with your attacks will vary how you handle them. Generally, small creatures will flinch when you hit them with an attack, allowing you to combo effectively. Bigger creatures, however, will not react to your hits, enduring them as they swing back at you. Avoiding big attacks will require to either traverse to the left/right of the screen or into the background/foreground. The final boss of the demo is a colossal golem, his entire body blocks the background scenery. His attacks generally cover the vertical height of the screen as he descends his left/right arm or the entire width of the screen, meaning avoiding the latter requires jumping and the former requires judging which side he will attack.

Sometimes, he will bring up both arms and slam the background, forcing the player to be cognizant of where attacks are placed in the 2.5d environment. The boss teaches players how to use all of the basics in defeating him while also unveiling the unique intricacies of what makes a seemingly simple game more complex.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

I actually wasn’t expecting this game at all. No, seriously. I had 0 ideas this would be at the event. At first, I was thinking about avoiding it, but seeing the game in-person really left an impression. I don’t say this lightly, but as I left the event, I thought that this would be an instant release day purchase. It’s rare to see beat ‘em ups compared to other genres, so I played this hoping to discover its design and realized that even though the game was simple, it allowed enough freedom that you could really develop fun strategies. If you’re a fan of quick-pacing, this might seem slow at first, but when you start combining attacks into unique movement options, the game starts to really develop its charm. I truly hope that when the game finishes, it keeps these options in mind. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, I think the game holds itself up well enough on its own.

Honey's Pros:

  • Beautiful graphics that capture the Little Witch Academia series.
  • Easy to pick up and play, but also deep enough to allow for developing strategies.
  • Good utilization of the foreground and background to allow the 2.5d really shine.

Honey's Cons:

  • Might want to add some invulnerability after waking up. Getting knocked down in this game by a swarm of enemies is really catastrophic.
  • Ally interaction seems really strange--the boss, in particular, got really easy swipes at them.

Honey's Final Verdict:

You know, I haven’t dived into Little Witch Academia all that seriously, but the game inspired me to give it a serious try. Usually, when a famous TV series or movie gets adapted into a game, you have to approach it cautiously. I was the same way with this game--I didn’t have much to lose, but I gained a lot. I’ve been looking forward to a team-based beat ‘em up for awhile. If this game ends up being multiplayer or having a long, dedicated story, I think most players seeking the same thing I am will give this a try.

Are you a fan of Little Witch Academia or a fan of this game’s mechanics? Are you interested in the RPG elements or other aspects of the game? Hey, maybe we can even play this game together if an online mode gets revealed. Let me know in the comment section below. We’re always looking to interact with our community!

Sean

Writer

Author: Sean "Coopa" Hoang

A motivated writer hoping to share his passion for video games, literature, and visual media. I'm the main streamer of FinestKO, a variety game stream with roots in the fighting game community. Whenever there's time, you can usually find me broadcasting or writing for the next article.

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