What happens when a game based on an anime and manga series that is not as well known as Naruto, Bleach, Sword Art Online or One Piece gets released outside of Japan? How does it make sure everyone is caught up? If that game is Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, then it does everything it can to get everyone caught up as quickly as possible. Its premise, gameplay and other features work to make sure no one feels left behind.
The star of Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is Atsuko “Akko” Kagari, a young woman in her first year of school at the magical academy Luna Nova. This is an all girl’s institute for kids to become witches. Instead of following her first steps here, we come in after Akko is somewhat established. (To be more specific, it takes place after the seventh episode of the anime.) She is nowhere near ready to be a full witch yet, but is coming up on her first summer vacation at the school. After getting access to a secret room in the school while cleaning up its library as a punishment, Akko ends up undoing a seal that results in the first day of summer vacation constantly repeating itself. It is up to her to explore the school, work with classmates who are also aware of the time problem and fight through a dungeon to set things right. Fortunately, this is a game that does not require you to know everything about everyone going in.
Now, if someone is new to Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time does its best to help people feel more comfortable with the characters. The first time Akko gets to talk to a major character outside of the introductory segment, there will be an opportunity to learn more about her background with that witch. So the first time Akko talks to Lotte in their dorm room, we can go back and see how the two met before classes at Luna Nova even started, how they became friends and see that Lotte is an intelligent, soft-spoken young woman. When she runs into Professor Ursula Callistis, the teacher who acts as her mentor, we see how this is a woman that is intelligent and kind, but maybe a bit flighty. These segments help provide a quick foundation.
Once you know those basics, the rest of Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time does an admirable job of giving these characters their due. This is a stand-alone story that does not require people to have watched the short films or anime series or read the manga to enjoy it. This additional Akko adventure, with its Groundhog Day repeating time premise, has tons of visual novel elements to it. People can make choices for Akko when she talks to people. We spend a lot of time getting to know folks and learning about the school and its inhabitants. Even the nature of it constantly repeating the same day helps those playing form a familiarity with it.
I also felt like the character descriptions before heading into the Horologium Chamber’s dungeon were helpful in telling people what to expect from each of the heroines. Each one of these young women has certain traits tied to them, which influences your run if they are set as the leader when heading into a dungeon. Akko is Adventurous and Tough as Nails. While that means that her supporters get extra experience and she gets a second chance at life if her health hits zero during a run, it also tells us about two elements of her personality. Meanwhile, Lotte is a Mystic Slayer and Spirit Navigator, Sucy is a Fungus Finder, Amanda has a Thief’s Discipline, Constanze has a Stanbot robot with her and is a Clockwork Slayer, Jasminka is a Quick Healer and Diana is a Commander and Living Bestiary. By knowing their specialties, we are able to make more inference about their personalities.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is such a character heavy game. The focus is completely on Akko and her classmates. We get to see them at their best and even worst as they explore Luna Nova. The fact that they are reliving the same day over and over helps us learn more about the setting. Its visual novel elements give us opportunities to constantly interact with characters. And, even if this is all new to us, it offers brief introductions to show summaries of what happened in the anime series. Everything comes together to make sure no one feels excluded.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.