I was sitting at my computer desk when suddenly I felt a blast of hot, dry air rush past my face. I blinked reflexively, and when I opened my eyes I was no longer in my condo. Instead, I found myself in the middle of a vast desert, seated at my desk before an enormous pyramid. My computer remained, but on the screen…was a visual novel. Yes, the mummy’s curse that doomed me to play every anime fanservice game and visual novel had struck again, and today I would review Littlewitch Romanesque: Editio Regia on Steam or have my liver consumed by scarabs. I grabbed a drink – several, actually, since this was the desert – and got to work.
Littlewitch Romanesque is probably best compared to something like Princess Maker or the more recent Magical Diary. You’re a teacher, you’ve got a pair of students and it’s your job to teach them how to be proper magicians. It’s completely innocent. Stop looking at me like that. As the archwizard Domino, it’s your job to teach young Aria and Kira how to be proper mages; that might be a tall order to fill, given the two were the worst students in class back at the wizard academy of Gimoire. You’re given three years and the run of the Dark Tower, one of several mysterious towers built in an ancient era that’s packed with both secrets and hidden dangers.
Teaching magic is actually kind of similar to Yahtzee. I guess that explains why there’s only nine Archmages left. During a study session, the apprentices roll dice and gain Spirit based on the result, with the teacher supervising their studies and the location of their studies both also playing a part in what they get. Spirit is divided into several categories, with each spell requiring varying amounts of each, and both apprentices have different affinities toward different categories. As the teacher, it’s possible to adjust the dice rolls slightly to your liking or to have the apprentices use spells to modify the rolls, but overdoing this results in Spirit loss and can hobble your apprentices’ development early on.
Once you’ve got tons of Spirit, it’s time to go spend it on magic. Spells, as mentioned, require differing amounts of each type of spirit. They’re learned by progressing through a FFX-esque spell web; the shape of this differs for both apprentices, further differentiating their affinity toward different kinds of magic. It’s wise to teach both of them a variety of spells in order to address different Quest requirements that come up, though admittedly it sucks when you’ve taught one a spell that the other needs to complete a quest, meaning you need to waste time and Spirit on teaching it to the other as well.
The actual use of spells and such in a practical setting isn’t quite as detailed as something like Magical Diary. While that game featured a pseudo-dungeon crawler mode where your character would have to use her magic to get past obstacles and foes, Littlewitch Romanesque is a little less involved, generally requiring one or both of the apprentices to have the correct spell for a given quest, upon which you’ll watch a scene where the apprentices explore the tower or such. Completing quests earns you a variety of rewards, ranging from new places for the apprentices to study to stat boosts.
Basically, you’re balancing study time with practical magic and completing quests. On top of all this, your apprentices’ progress is judged every so often by mages from Grimoire, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. You really don’t have as much time as you might think at first, so corners will eventually have to be cut unless you do a lot of planning ahead – in other words, you’ll probably need another playthrough or two to really optimize your strategy.
The writing is pretty standard for modern Steam visual novels, with Aria and Kira acting and speaking in largely unsurprising ways that we’ve seen in teaching-focused anime since the age of dinosaurs. As for the art, it’s a little more nice, which helps justify the slightly increased price tag over the average VN. Content-wise, you kind of know what to expect going into this one, though it’s worth mentioning that things are largely sanitized and the content hovers around PG-13 as far as I could tell. This wasn’t the case for the original PS2 version of this game, so you might want to look out if you’re digging around for strategy guides or such lest you come across something you didn’t want to see.
The additional gameplay aspects of Littlewitch Romanesque: Editio Regia help this visual novel stand out from the ever-growing crowd on Steam. It’s cute (as expected), it’s pretty (as expected) and it’s well-written enough that you won’t hate yourself while playing it (as expected.) The game isn’t going to win any converts over to the genre, but if you’re already a VN fan you can’t really go wrong here.