I’ve been meaning to watch Little Witch Academia for a while, so I finally got round to it in preparation for reviewing this game. Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing (a mouthful and a half so will shorten to Little Witch Academia from now on), is exactly what it says on the tin. Having watched and very much enjoyed the show, I was excited to dive into the world of magic and spend time flying through skies above the Luna Nova Magical Academy (and other locations) and making friends with its characters that I’ve come to love.
Little Witch Academia is a VR game where you will be racing on brooms against your fellow witches. Every year, Luna Nova (the witch academy) invites guest witches in to take part in various events and this year it’s your turn! You will meet all the main characters from the show as you go through races that have context applied to linked to events from the show. There aren’t massive spoilers in the game but there are references to the show that you will only understand if you’ve watched it prior.
I’m definitely glad I went back to watch the show for that reason, but if you’re worried you won’t enjoy the game otherwise, don’t be! It’s still worth playing if the concept interests you. That being said, an extra nice touch is that the actual cast of voice actors return to play their counterparts in the game, adding some authenticity to the world.
After being introduced to Akko and a spirit that talks to you, acting as a guide, you’re taught how to fly your broom. With your left controller, you tilt and turn it to steer. With your right controller, you activate powers and shoot with your wand. It controls a little bit awkwardly if you’re playing sat down, as sometimes you will fly at 90-degree angles left or right which can be fiddly if you’re not able to physically turn. Otherwise, it feels fun to play and natural to control. It’s very accessible with some challenges that you can complete in each race if you want to try and prove yourself the best broom racer around.
Most people won’t struggle with the game at the standard difficulty, so thankfully, a new hard mode has been added recently for those of you who want a bit more of a challenge.
The game consists of some tutorials and then a competition to complete, that ties into the game’s mini-story. It only takes a couple of hours to fully complete the campaign but you can always go back and replay it if you want to. You fly along the “Leyroad” and through portals that give you speed boosts whilst tethered to notable characters from the show. If you stray too far from the path then you can teleport back to the leylines to get you going on the right track again.
To expand the game, it would be cool to be able to race others online (which is apparently coming) or some kind of arcade mode where you can set up your own races, but unfortunately, there’s nothing like that right now, you’re stuck with a single-player story-driven experience only.
As you race, you will unlock tickets and other currency that allows you to buy all sorts of upgrades. You can purchase new brooms with varying stats and even crystals to improve them further, with lots of different perks that improve certain aspects. Some things that can be enhanced are the effects of portals and the strength of magic powers. It’s good that there’s an incentive to complete more challenges, in order to buy upgrades, but they aren’t particularly noticeable and feel a bit more like a cosmetic attachment rather than a required part of the game.
As well as racing, you will take part in shooting ghosts too, which is new to the world of Little Witch Academia and adds something slightly different to change things up. The gameplay is pretty much the same as the races but instead of racing, ghosts that appear which you have to shoot; it’s like a shooting gallery while racing (Rob: sounds a little like Roller Coaster Tycoon: Joyride).
The locations lack detail but they do look really pretty with vivid colours and cartoon visuals that pop just like the anime itself. Everything is clear and cute, making you feel like you’re inside the show. Of course, there are some darker locations too, which I won’t get into because of spoilers, but they look equally as impressive as a companion to the series. The anime style of the visuals obviously remove realism and can lessen the impact of the immersion that you’re flying a magical broom many meters in the air. As such, I didn’t experience any discomfort from racing so high up, even as someone who suffers badly from acrophobia.
In all honesty, my favourite parts of Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing were the ones without gameplay. I enjoyed being with the 3D character models, discussing parts from the show and the story within the game. It felt like I was actually in the show, offering a unique up-close experience which was nice and immersive after recently enjoying the show. The broom racing is fun, but it was a little too simple and repetitive – you’re probably best playing it in short bursts rather than sinking many hours into it in one go.
If you’re a massive fan of the show, definitely check the game out as it’s fun feeling like you’re within this magical world. If you’re not, it’s a decent time killer if you have a VR headset, it’s just not amazing.
Little Witch Academia VR: Broom Racing is also coming to PSVR, the Oculus Rift, and Steam VR in the second quarter of 2021 – it was supposed to be the first quarter but the developers have delayed the release, possibly due to COVID-19.
Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing£22.99
- - Great art style
- - Features the original VA from the show
- - It's fun feeling like you're part of the world and stood next to characters from the series
- - It gets a little repetitive
- - It's too short right now
- - There needs to be more modes added to expand the experience