Noita is a unique rogue-like experience with strong narratives and fascinating mechanics, centered around power hungry mages and dangerous magics. I found that it had a steep learning curve, but once I wrapped my head around what I was supposed to be doing piece by piece, the game opened up and became a lot of fun to experiment with.
The Story. The story is fairly simple, and fed to you in little bites as you navigate the game worlds. You play a mage, with whooshy rocket boots and a couple badass wands, standing at the entrance of a dungeon. Classic rogue-like environment. From there, I haven’t really been able to figure out much more of the actual story yet, cause the game keeps kicking my ass by the third level. It appears to be a pursuit of wealth, as the further in you go, the better and better stuff you can get, and the more powerful and dangerous a mage you become. The upgrades can be serious.
On one adventure I got plasma beams coming out of my eyes. It defined the rest of my run and made me really pay attention to my aim controls, until it eventually got me killed by burning a hole in a giant vat of flammable liquid on accident. But what a ride until then. The levels are pretty dynamic. You can usually significantly alter your environment in a number of ways. Bombs, acid magic, and just plain old fire. Sometimes even weird teleports. This game does so many classic concepts of wildly dangerous magic so well, I can’t help but dive into one of them; magic teleportation. It’s a rough feeling, and tears your screen away. Not only do they nail the aesthetic, but the magic can be unpredictable. These teleports are SO dangerous. I have teleported myself into a wall, into a vat of acid with no way out, directly into the gaping maw of a giant monster, and into a giant vault of money potions that I used to create a Scrooge Mcduck coin vault. My favorite was the tele-potion, cause I just kept peeing it onto enemies and warping them away to be dealt with later, if at all. They really do an amazing job of making the player FEEL like a mage drunk on power just screwing around with wildly dangerous magic, to varied effect.
One of my runs was also highly cinematic. I started off creeping through a cave system over-run by a sentient and occasionally aggressive jungle. There was the usual assortment of enemies, but there was also this crazy plant that just came out of nowhere and kind of grew at you with great aggression. It has these little buboes that you have to pop, and thankfully I had a machete/shotgun wand to help, but they bleed fire when you kill them, and the damn plant likes to trap you by overgrowing the area. I had it chase me into a dead end that resulted in a giant bomb and wand fight until I beat it back enough to escape.
Then the next level was a coal mine on fire. I had to navigate a coal mine that was actively under attack by fire monsters. The entire place was a nightmare of explosions and burns, and my snow potion got a lot of good use until I had to throw it at a flame elemental to avoid an instant crispy death. The narrative strength in this game is in the way it plays out. The little randomized stories of your personal crazed-with-power mage, and how they died in this hellish ultra-violence dungeon. And it is SO violent. The monsters are many, and terrifying. Acid ghost blobs that fill entire rooms with their dangerous, highly flammable floating blood. Buzzsaw worms. Shotgunners. Other power crazed mages. A really mean spirited alchemist. Purple tentacle seagulls. The list is exhaustive, and part of the fun is encountering new enemies, as each is logged in a neat little minimalist bestiary.
The mechanics in this one are heavily attached to your magic items. The main items are Wands, which you can customize to hilarious and wild effects, and Potions which play a bit like consumables. Potions I find to be useful, but not in the way that a good wand is. I often come equipped with a water type potion that is mostly just good for putting myself out when I eventually get lit on fire. That happens a lot, learning to avoid fire is great, but learn to mitigate it until you can avoid it. Acid, slime, smoke, alcohol, and even mud play important environmental roles, and learning to use them to your advantage can be key to victory or survival. Combat requires a lot of movement prediction, and tends to be fairly frantic. It’s a ton of fun, and once you scale that learning curve, starts to feel really powerful.
All in all, this is a great little rogue-like on offer from publisher Nolla Games. It’s made me stand up and take note of their company, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what else they come up with. Well done.