December 2nd, 2019
You won’t find anoita game like this one.
Besides the puns to be made ad infinitum with the name, the game is a keeper.
You start as a wizard, or is it a witch? Yes, I guess it’s a witch. A witch with a hooded robe, potions and wands. I guess they do witches a bit differently in Finland. Noita literally translates to “witch” in Finnish, although it is supposedly closer in meaning to “shaman”, “witch-doctor”, or “medicine man”. The latter translations are much more apt to the character I find.
Semantics and language aside, Noita is a 2D platforming roguelite based in a lore-rich world where every pixel is simulated; the main gimmick of the game. A gimmick which I find to be a good selling point, but also one that leads me to frustration more than any other aspect of the game. Luckily lots of the inconsistencies of the pixel simulation have been tweaked and fixed over the great patches the team have been pushing out. A team of which includes the all-star cast of Petri Purho (Crayon Physics Deluxe), Olli Harjola (The Swapper), and Arvi Teikari (Baba Is You). You can easily see the inspiration of each of those games in Noita. It’s likely also a gimmick we will be seeing a lot of in the future with how successful the game has been and with the engine they developed for it (Falling Everything Engine) coming out for third-party use.
The game is hard, but mostly fair. The issue I alluded to earlier in regards to pixel simulation inconsistencies are what lead to the unfair deaths. Things like minecarts glitching out and killing you while walking over them. Single or double pixels of lava or acid killing you when low on health. Fire propagation running rampant even over water. Thankfully these kinds of things are rare, and you are instead left dying mostly to nearly one-shotting meanies that show up in the later levels, which is much more satisfying than accidently switching to a thunder stone while you are underwater. Pro tip: don’t use the scroll wheel for switching items. Overall, it’s a good balance of difficulty and challenge, although I think there are certain combinations of perks that you end up figuring out that lead to nearly 100% guaranteed wins, making the game feel very RNG-driven.
The amount of content here is staggering. You’ll likely still be discovering new things after playing 50 hours, especially if you are one of those people that don’t spoil games by reading Wikis. The randomized world generation mixed with templated, guaranteed locations walks a great line between intentional design and uniqueness brought from the procedural generation. Lore and mythos are feed to you piecemeal as you explore new spells, potions, perks, enemies, and discover new strategies that allow you access to new secretive areas. The game does an excellent job at building a world that you care to discover the secrets of.
It’s fun building your own arsenal of spells and wands. Piecing together different stats and abilities to build the ultimate wand is always a satisfying endeavor, unless you don’t read a spell closely enough and go to test it, killing yourself in the process.
Anyways, GOTY 2019.