by Adam Nix
reviewed on PC
I’m new to the world of Little Witch Academia. Having only watched about half of the first season, I think it is important to note that this game probably isn’t meant for me. That being said, I understand and appreciate the wholesome, Kiki’s delivery service vibes the show succeeds in providing. Game aside, the show itself is such a pleasant and kind experience, I can’t wait to keep watching it. Unfortunately, this is not a review of the show, and when looking at Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing, I think it will be a disappointment for fans and newcomers alike.
Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing is the newest game developed by UNIVRS. It puts players in the shoes of a guest student at Luna Nova Magical Academy in the world of Little Witch Academia, the Netflix Original anime that aired in 2017. Players get the chance to race on brooms with their favorite characters from the show through something called “bond magic.” Characters from the show are basically attached to players and act as their companion as they race and fly through different scenery around Luna Nova.
As a guest student at Luna Nova, players start talking to and racing each character from the show. Starting with small cut scenes with the main character, Akko, and slowly meeting others as they get more familiar with the game.
Although it’s exciting to get the chance to talk to each character in a VR world, there is something missing; the characters feel more bland than the original show, having way less animation and delivering flat and uninteresting dialogue. When racing with a given character, the same couple of voice clips play over and over again, getting tiresome very quickly.
After each cut scene, a broom race follows. VR broom racing provides for some interesting mechanics like leaning forward to make your broom go or waving your wand to use items. The items in the game consist of wings that increase speed or spider webs to slow down other players. And that’s it.
With no other items in the game, I’d hope that the broom racing would be interesting, but there is no sense of gravity or weight to make it feel like you are on a broom. As I raced in this game, it didn’t feel like I was riding a broom, but instead, playing some kind of dexterity clicking game, moving my pointer from one side of the screen to the other as fast as possible.
A hazy, semi-transparent racetrack shows players where to go in a given race. Blue rings are scattered throughout each course that provide extra money to spend in your dorm room after races. Besides the rings, there are a couple other environmental assets like blue orbs that act as speed boosts and purple orbs that slow you down. If you run into obstacles, the game resets right before the collision, making it harder to maintain a lead.
Magic is in the Air
The story is almost non-existent. The students are flying around on their brooms as much as possible because there is too much magic in the air. You quickly learn that in order to protect the school against this large influx in magic, you need 7 “broom stars” by increasing the trust between you and the 7 characters you can interact with. This is done by flying with different characters and repeating the same races you’ve already done. This might be ok if there was a difference in each character - maybe different stats or items, anything really - but there wasn’t any noticeable change between the characters I decided to fly with. The only way to change stats in the game was through purchasing new brooms and “gems”, but these were very limited.
Without delving into the ending and spoilers too much, all I will say is that the ending was anticlimactic and confusing. At the biggest moment of the game, I experienced a sudden jolt in the cut scene that made me feel like something went wrong. Right after this cut scene, the game was over. I am still left wondering whether there was a bug that made me miss the final level, or if the ending was just bad. Either way, it wasn’t a good experience and was not the only bug I experienced while playing this game. To name a couple: the sound effects would go wild once a race was over and I got stuck in loops where the game thought I was falling off the track.
Stick with Netflix
I could see someone who’s really into Little Witch Academia loving the chance to be in a VR world with their favorite characters. That being said, even if I were to put myself in the shoes of that fan, I can’t help but feel I would be disappointed in what this game has to offer. The characters didn’t have enough story to work with to flush out their emotions and quirks, the gameplay was uninteresting, and there were a few too many bugs. If you are a diehard Little Witch Academia fan that just needs to get a little more of it in your life, then this might be something you could pick up - but understand that it will be an underwhelming 2 hour experience. You’d be better off just rewatching the show.
Allows players a chance to experience Little Witch Academia from a VR perspective.
Falls flat everywhere else.