Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Developer: Nolla Games
Publisher: Nolla Games
Release date: 24 Sep, 2019
Have a straightforward idea and implement it well without any new gimmicks or a complex blend of mechanics – Noita grabs this sentence as its motto and rolls with it, succeeding with flying colors.
“Oh and let’s simulate every pixel and elemental interaction in the environment.” is the secondary motto.
Yeah… Noita has a straightforward concept but it’s hardly a simple one – it’s a magic based roguelite experience where a huge variety of wands and spells are your core mechanics of combat – with the added component of environmental interaction that simulates elements and physics on pretty much everything on your screen, Noita stands out among the crowded roguelite genre and is one of the finest releases of the year in general. A game that capitalized on innovation while keeping the gameplay loop simple but fresh every run – what a roguelite should strive for these days.
Everything around You
Noita shines in how it blends its phenomenal magic-based combat gameplay, the slick 2D controls and movement and more importantly (and creatively) its environmental interaction.
The combat is simple – enemies attack you and you attack back just like most roguelites – but it’s well done due to both a great variety of different spell combinations and the great enemy variety.
You start the game at the entrance to a cave which serves as your stages to progress – kill enemies, loot for gold and new weapons and take portals to the following stage where not only more enemies, loot and biomes are found, but also shops and upgrade rooms.
“What if I don’t want to enter the cave immediately?”
Simple then, dear reader: don’t. I mean it! If you decide to go in the opposite direction, you’ll have the surface to explore which doesn’t serve as an empty place to adventure in but also can provide those daring enough to find some extra items/buffs to increase the success chance of your run when you decide to finally enter the cave; it’s not as easy as it sound though, as you’ll have some enemies to stop you from adventuring too much in the surface so going to the caves is a better idea initially from my experience.
The spell/wand variety is remarkable, there is a core projectile that can then change with the spell type and further enhancements as you progress – a basic magic wand shot can eventually end up becoming a multi-projectile shotgun blast that reflects when hitting a surface such as a wall or the ground. The variety of abilities you can shoot is astonishing and the fact you can carry multiple wands is fantastic since it enabled elemental/spell combinations you couldn’t do with a single weapon.
Elemental interactions are present in the game as I pointed out and they provide both an edge in combat and also hundreds of new ways for you to die.
To give a basic example: I picked a wand that had a flaming tip (almost like a torch or flamethrower) which, upon jumping a bit too high, touched a wooden ceiling – the ceiling caught fire and pieces of wood started falling, the fire spread across the entire wooden platform and I caught fire, nearly dying in the process if I hadn’t thrown a bottle of water upwards in order to shower myself and put out the fire.
Do you have any idea how awesome of a moment that was for me, despite how dumb I simultaneously felt by catching everything around on fire? Pretty awesome to say the least…
This small example should be enough to show you the absolutely remarkable depth that the game possesses in its environments and elements and how they all interact together. Mixing elements both in the environment and between spells (since you can carry multiple wands) is extremely enjoyable and constitutes a big part of the game I wasn’t expecting – finding all possible combinations and trying to get a good “combo build” in order to reach the ending.
It is, of course, very difficult to find all combinations as there is a lot of possible results and the environment itself is extremely rich in possibilities – just throwing a grenade at the ground will open a big hole on the ground and any trees caught by the blast will fall in remarkably realistic physics, its leaves will catch fire and you’ll sit there – just like I did the first time I saw it – contemplating the trees burning away and chipping into smaller pieces that just gracefully fall into the big hole on the ground my grenade created.
If it’s not obvious already – I absolutely adore all the interactions in the game and I could waste your time endlessly writing all the cool “I had no idea that was possible!” moments and interactions I found throughout this game – a game that is as simple as it can get but allows exceptional complexity by giving the player full control of his gear.
Although this all seems really cool, Noita does have an extremely steep learning curve – the tutorial is just a couple prompts upon spawning and all the environment interactions you’ll encounter will feel fresh for the first time as the game never alludes to anything but the basic “shoot with this and move with that” control prompts. The game is painfully difficult, even for roguelite standards so I also recommend you explore the environments well and remember all possible interactions in order to find the secrets which will yield new gear items that can be found in common places in future runs (and not in the secret spots before you found them).
Overall, Noita will put you off if you’re expecting a casual experience (which some roguelites provide really well) but for those interested in the constant and dynamic environment interactions and hardcore gameplay loop, there is hardly a better game in the genre that Noita.
The music serves more as an environment enhancer rather than a bunch of tunes to jam along as you play. It’s slow, methodical and fits the bleak and gloomy environment that the underground stages of Noita immerse you in during your runs. The sound effects are all stellar, from the fires to explosions, enemy sounds or simply your footsteps, moving around the lonely depths as you explore.
Graphics are even more noteworthy thanks to a familiar yet well done pixel art look that is stunning, further enhanced by the pixel-by-pixel interaction – the fire spreading on wood or on tree branches – seeing acid corrode surfaces or simply kicking (yes, you can kick stuff) a mine cart or a dead enemy’s carcass far from you is just pure joy to look at how phenomenal every single physical interaction and reaction are done. A remarkable game to both play and look at.
Unless you prefer your games more on the casual side, Noita is a must-buy. While harder than most roguelites, the solid gameplay paired with the innovative environmental interactions are more than enough to justify buying the game at full price, especially for fans of the roguelite genre. Can’t wait for further content additions. Another successful roguelite release this year I can scream in praise, alongside UnderMine.