Little Witch Nobeta Review
Last month, I wrote a preview for Little Witch Nobeta and stated that I was looking forward to carrying on with the game. Now, after finishing the game and seeing everything it has to offer, have my thoughts on developer Pupuya Game’s debut title changed? Don’t let the cutesy aesthetic fool you, as Little Witch Nobeta is a shooter combined with a Souls-like that gives gamers a challenging — and surprisingly unique — take on the genre.
You play as Nobeta, a witch with no recollection of who she is, apart from her name. Not knowing much about herself or her past, Nobeta is drawn to a strange castle where she feels the answers to her forgotten identity lie. Shortly after venturing into the castle, Nobeta comes across a black cat who appears to know more than it’s letting on. This cat tells our little witch that seeking out “the throne”, that is hidden deep within the castle ruins, will lead her to discovering her true identity.
The story as a whole never gets too involved, with cutscenes placed few and far between, although the constant mystery surrounding Nobeta and her past is always intriguing enough that I rather enjoyed the threadbare plot. Those of you that want to fill in as many blanks as possible will find collectibles scattered throughout each level that add some extra lore and world building to the game.
Little Witch Nobeta is a decent-looking game, with a particular nod towards some great character and enemy designs that range from uniquely charming to downright unsettlingly creepy (I’m looking at you, marionette enemies!). Even though the environments themselves aren’t anything incredible, the lighting — especially light coming from player attacks — definitely made them pop, becoming more than just the drab areas that they first appear to be.
Perhaps the best looking aspects of the game are the animations; Nobeta in particular has a wide variety of over-the-top manoeuvres and spells that all look great. Enemies are also well animated, which certainly helps in predicting their attack patterns.
Whilst the music was always thematically appropriate for the environments, they tended to drag on as they looped endlessly, and were particularly noticeable when exploring every nook and cranny of a level. Although Little Witch Nobeta features no English dub, the Japanese voices are well-delivered, and the subtitles were translated well enough that they got across any emotional narrative points.
In the initial preview, I only reached the second boss battle, and I found that the rest of Little Witch Nobeta is largely more of the same. But with a steady stream of new abilities and magical spells to unlock, it staves off the tedium. Mostly. Whilst it was always fun to try out a new attack and swap them out depending on which spell served me best for each area, there was the occasional time when I found the game growing slightly stale. Maybe because this is a much more streamlined take on the genre, with very few instances to truly explore an area before you’re placed back onto the set path to your goal, or the fact that the majority of the enemies can be bested by simply blasting them from afar. There is a melee attack, which is useful in a pinch, but the primary gameplay certainly favours Nobeta’s ranged spells and abilities.
Attacking whilst being constantly on the move was something I found myself doing more and more as the game went on, mainly due to the more aggressive enemies in later levels. The stamina meter is used solely for movement, and your ranged attacks will use up Nobeta’s magic meter, although this recharges quickly enough that I never found myself defenceless too often. A charged magic attack can do a lot of damage, but will also quickly deplete your magic, so it was a fun balancing act that was rewarding when it went in my favour.
There are four elements Nobeta will gain control of throughout the game and use to attack enemies, with the initial Arcane spell being the most basic. The ice spell is more of a low-damage, high rate-of-fire spell good for chipping away at a far away enemy, whilst the opposite is true of the fire spell, which is comparable to something like a shotgun; it’s hard-hitting, yet not so good from a distance. Finally, thunder is the real powerhouse of the four, and can dish out some serious punishment to anything that isn’t a boss enemy.
These elements (and Nobeta’s stats and passive abilities) are upgradable by finding hidden items as well as “Goddess Statues” throughout the world, which also act as checkpoints. There isn’t much in the way of customising Nobeta to fit your play style, but since you’re playing a particular character, rather than a custom creation, it’s more understandable.
I’d also like to mention the quality of Little Witch Nobeta’s boss fights. With the first boss being a hulking suit of armour that does little more than shamble around and take swipes at you, the rest of the game’s bosses are far beyond this rather mundane first fight. These are where the true challenge of the game lies, and there were occasions where I attempted to rush through an area in order to get to the next big bad (not a recommended tactic if you want to have levelled up sufficiently!).
Little Witch Nobeta is a fun, if occasionally repetitive, Souls-like shooter and a great starting point for those new to these types of games. It’s not overly long, with my final playtime being just under 12 hours, but with some fantastic boss designs and an interesting spin on an otherwise melee-focused genre, there is certainly fun to be had here.
Little Witch Nobeta (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
A charming title that doesn’t overstay its welcome; Little Witch Nobeta is a fun, if occasionally repetitive, journey of discovery. Well utilised mechanics and some epic boss fights make this a good choice for veterans of the Souls-like genre and newcomers alike.