Overview – developed by SimonCreative and Pupuya Games with publishing handled by Idea Factory International, Little Witch Nobeta is a an action adventure with shooting mechanics. Explore the ancient castle and uncover the mysteries that it holds, while trying to reach the throne. This title is available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation platforms, with a link to each version of the game available at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Idea Factory International for providing the copy of Little Witch Nobeta that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story.
Story – the little witch Nobeta has travelled to a mysterious castle, looking for answers about her own life. While exploring the castle and looking for the throne room, she encounters and befriends a mysterious little black cat. During her adventure Nobeta gains magical powers and encounters Crafted Souls, powerful entities that wield great magical power alongside other threats on her quest. Can the little witch overcome these challenges and uncover the secrets of the castle.
Gameplay – Little Witch Nobeta is a third person action adventure, where the player controls the titular witch as they explore the castle, fight monsters and take on powerful bosses. The objective of this release is to solve puzzles, battle enemies and defeat the bosses that dwell in the castle. While exploring the castle, the player will encounter monsters and crafted souls who will attack the player on their journey.
To combat the hostile forces of the castle, the player has access to two types of attack. These are the wand used for melee strikes and magic for ranged combat, with four different magic powers that can be used. The player will start with a basic power called Arcane, with the ability to unlock Ice, Fire and Thunder as the game progresses. These magical attacks each have their own qualities, with the ability to charge them to access more powerful attacks but can be interrupted.
Alongside the standard magic powers, the player can also obtain upgrades for their spells which makes them even more powerful in battle. There are also skills that the player can use to help navigate the castle, including a dodge roll to escape attacks and a double jump (unlocked during play) to help cross gaps. These skills can be also be upgraded, giving the player more options during exploration and combat but Nobeta can stumble if she is out of Stamina.
The combat itself is very fluid, with a third person shooting style to the action. While in battle with enemies, the player is able to lock onto their foes allowing them to focus their attacks during more frantic action. There is also the ability to precisely aim attacks, granting the player greater power when the magic has been charged. But be careful as magic requires Mana to be used, with charging spells using a large amount of this power.
There are special gems that can be found in the castle, offering a variety of effects that can help the player during tense battles. These effects include restoring Mana, healing damage taken and providing other boosts. However, some of these recovery tools can have downsides to them, as they can hold curses, causing some souls collected to be lost upon death. The only way to recover from a curse is to use pray at a statue (discussed below).
Throughout the game, there are statues that the player can pray at. These statues allow the player to save the game, acting as checkpoints during the adventure as Nobeta will return to the last one upon death. The player can also use the statue to power up the stats for the little witch and buy gems, using souls that have been collected from defeating enemies and breaking objects. There are also story items that can be collected, providing lore about the castle.
The castle is separated into different environments, with thematic elements added to them such as ruins that are sitting on Lava and an underground cavern. This makes the exploration of different locations more interesting, as it gives the different areas of the castle distinct looks that prevent it from becoming boring. However, the different areas introduce their own threats to the player, along with puzzles and challenges unique to those areas.
The areas of the castles different zones are interconnected, with gates and doors often preventing the player from going through the different paths. These locked areas are opened up by completing puzzles, defeating powerful enemies and using the switches to open a gate. When the gates are opened, allowing the player return to different zones and find the secrets that they may have missed previously, expanding the area to explore.
Finally, at key points during her quest, Nobeta can encounter Crafted Soul bosses. These powerful beings will engage in battle with the player within an arena, with battles that can have more than one phase to them. The battles can be very challenging, with attack patterns and gimmicks that can really push the player to the limit. Making sure to use the best possible attacks and strategy can be the difference between life or death in these battles.
Now with the gameplay covered, it is time to move onto the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control layout for this release is comfortably laid out, with all of the important functions set out in a way that makes them easy to use. The movement and attack inputs have zero issues with lag, but there are some minor inconsistencies with the camera. During the game, the camera can swing wildly at times, which can make it disorienting for players, but this can be fixed by altering the settings.
Difficulty – there are two difficulty settings for this release, Standard and Advanced. The standard difficulty option provides advantages for the player when starting the game, boosting the magical power that Nobeta can wield. The Advanced difficulty offers are more challenging experience, with the boosts in standard missing and other adjustments made to increase the difficulty. The general difficulty curve is fairly balanced, but it can spike during the boss battles.
Presentation – the visual style of Little Witch Nobeta has a very pleasing look to it, with the rather cute characters that appear contrasting well with the dark fantasy environment. There are moments where it can be rather dark, but that doesn’t impact the gameplay experience too much as the brightness can be modified. The action of this game moves at a very solid pace, with no issues regarding framerate or visual fidelity when playing in docked or handheld mode.
The sound for this title adds to the experience, with music that is expertly orchestrated to add to the overall atmosphere that the game tries to present. There is a mix of soft piano, music box style chimes and intense string instruments to name but a few elements of the compositions in this game. During the cutscenes that are in this title, there is fully voiced dialogue that is completely in Japanese, with performances that bring more life to the story.
Final Thoughts – I had a great time playing Little Witch Nobeta, there is a lot of charm to this title and the story managed to get an emotional reaction from me. The action is fast paced and can be a real challenge, especially during the boss battles as they can be very intense. However, the cost of failure isn’t punishing as there is little downside to defeat, but it can be frustrating due to the chance of losing souls and being sent back to a checkpoint.
This is a title I can recommend to everyone that enjoys action adventure titles, as there is a low barrier of entry in terms of challenge. There are some comparisons that can be made to the wider Souls-like genre, with the use of souls as currency and statues as checkpoints. But this is only a surface level similarity to the genre, as the other aspects of the game like the elemental magic and third person shooting style action makes this title stand on its own.
In the end, I give Little Witch Nobeta a final score of 4.5/5. This is an excellent release that has a story that pulled at my heart, while also providing a solid challenge that feels rather unique to other titles in the soulslike genre. It can be tough but the overall experience is rewarding with many secrets to uncover. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to each version of the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation version (HERE)