Noita seems like a simple pixel graphic game with a straightforward goal. The player must guide a tiny magician in the deepest depths of the earth through different biomes, kill the final boss and proceed into the lowest level to win the game. During the journey, the mage encounters countless vile creatures waiting for an opportunity to end the days of the tiny protagonist. When the player dies, they are teleported back to the surface to start the journey from scratch. Sounds generic and straightforward? Think again.
Being a game about a witch or mage — Noita means a witch/mage without specific gender connotations in Finnish — it has a myriad of spells and wands that players can wield and utilize. After every biome, players are transported to an in-between space called ’Holy Temple’, where they gain full health, perks and can shop new spells or wands; most importantly, they can customize and combine the spells, spell modifiers, and wands. Containing over three hundred spells and spell modifiers, the enormous variety of different spell combinations players can perform is genuinely mind-boggling. However, the game revolves around a live-and-learn mentality, which implies that often, especially in the beginning, players tend to kill themselves with fancy spell combinations.
Noita markets itself with a slogan of ’Every pixel is simulated,’ meaning that even though it may look weirdly basic pixelated game, pixels have actual importance behind them. Every pixel acts and reacts similarly to their real-life counterparts. For example, wood pixels burn and turn to ash, water freezes, evaporates, extinguish flames or dilutes toxins, acid burns through basically every material, and metals conduct electricity. Playing with physics and observing how everything reacts with each other is incredibly fun. Yet, it’s also a lightning-quick way to find your demise — jumping to a pool of water with an electric wand will annihilate you in a blink of an eye.
On top of a myriad of environments and 130 different enemies, Noita has plenty of surprises and easter eggs, yet it doesn’t explain these to players. They must uncover those themselves, which makes the game special. It pushes players to discover, experiment, analyze, and take risks, making the gameplay a near-endless source of childlike joy. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I just advise, try combining different random materials, or instead of going to the ”right way,” meaning downwards, try going to the east, west, or even to the sky.
The major downside of Noita is its brutal difficulty combined with the randomly re-generated spells and wands. Players die quickly due to enemies, environments, physics, or their own spells. Possessing a decent wand usually only gives players just enough rope to hang themselves later in the game — though randomness of wands plays a significant factor. Players can get a ridiculously powerful wand in the opening minutes; thus, making it possible to breeze through the rest of the game effortlessly.
Noita is a very challenging yet exceptionally fun and unique roguelite that players can sink dozens of hours in and still encounter new content. You don’t find any deep story in the game, but all the better gameplay. I recommend it to fans of platformers, roguelikes, and exploration games.
Pictures: Fig. 1 & 2 screenshots from a game, taken by the author.
Pictures: Fig. 3 & 4 promo pictures from the game, https://store.steampowered.com/app/881100/Noita/
Publisher: Nolla Games
Developer: Nolla Games
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Genre: Roguelite platformer
PEGI: Not rated