Little Witch Nobeta Review – Anime Girl Soulslike? I’m Down

    Title: Little Witch Nobeta
    Developer: Pupuya Games
    Release Date: March 7, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Idea Factory International
    Genre: Souls-like

Games labeled Soulslikes tend to be treated as more of a joke than anything else nowadays due to how over-abundant the genre has become. Aside from a few similarities, many share dark and gloomy themes, which limits their distinction. At least, that’s the case with me. My tiredness of the genre results from these core themes, so the Pupuya Games-developed Little Witch Nobeta surprised me with its anime cast and action-centric gameplay systems. When it comes to the overall experience, it may not stand toe-to-toe with the greats of the genre, but it manages to offer exceptionally entertaining bouts of gameplay.

Little Witch Nobeta follows the titular protagonist as she finds and explores a castle to discover the meaning of her existence. Early on in her journey, she finds a talking black cat with an attitude who acts as a guide toward the castle’s throne.

The story here, while an occasional focus, is not particularly compelling since the dialogue is hit-and-miss. A few interactions between Nobeta and the individuals she meets in the castle are memorable, yet the dynamic she has with the black cat feels somewhat forced, with its intended ending closure not quite hitting the nail on the head.

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Still, the gameplay is the primary focus here, and Little Witch Nobeta’s challenge genuinely caught me off-guard. The charming witch will frequently face foes, and her methods of attack include casting spells and swinging her staff, with spells being the primary means of taking down enemies. Nobeta has multiple upgradeable elements found while exploring, with standard shots and powerful chants that take some time to cast in the opening of the adventure.

The provided moveset is limited, but it never becomes especially dull since, as enemies are slain, they drop a currency used to upgrade various stats of Nobeta, such as her basic stats, magical damage, and even casting speed. As a result, the gameplay loop, while predictable, is fulfilling.

Players can grind on enemies as often as they like, thanks to checkpoint statues resetting their spawns. The drop rate of the currency and the rates required to upgrade are surprisingly generous, so there are no high walls to overcome. The player sets the pacing of the adventure, so there’s no reason to rush into a fight with a boss underpowered.

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These boss battles are where the game truly shines since they’re immensely well-designed and legitimately difficult. Their telegraphs are apparent; no move felt like it arose from nowhere. And when taking the bosses’ enhanced movesets of their later phases into account, you’ll likely face deaths a fair number of times.

The cathartic process of trial and error in the Soulslike genre never grows old for me, and if you’re a fan, too, you’ll undoubtedly have fun here. Granted, the low amount of bosses is disappointing, but that also makes each encounter far more distinct.

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Exploration is the other vital area of gameplay. Movement is highly emphasized with lite platforming, and Nobeta is quite the agile youth. For instance, she can jump and attack with her staff in the air to gain additional air time, which is vital for some of the treasures that aren’t so straightforward to reach.

Additionally, she quickly gains a double jump to help make certain sections less precise. Like the combat mechanics, there isn’t much to say or learn about how movement works, but it gets the job done and is not overly contrived for frustration. If anything, you may have early difficulties getting used to this title’s sense of gravity since it’s far more weighted than I expected.

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One essential suggestion I must make is to alter the camera zoom in the settings menu. When the game begins, the camera is humorously close to Nobeta’s character model; I genuinely have no idea why that’s the default, but I’m sure others might. Regardless, this can be changed whenever you desire, so it’s not a sticking point. Moving on, while I had an enjoyable time with Little Witch Nobeta, its brief length ultimately soured me on the experience somewhat.

I don’t necessarily believe that length determines the quality of a game, but in the case of this title specifically, it felt like it never managed to reach its full potential. The puzzles and platforming, for example, were never pushed to their limits in the realm of level design creativity. This philosophy also holds true for the boss battles, which were satisfactory yet had me wishing for more. In a sense, I suppose that latter point isn’t a negative since not every game has to push you beyond your limits. Still, when you’re left hungry for more, reception can be mixed.

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Little Witch Nobeta is a pretty fun Soulslike that doesn’t use its presentation as bait to veil a shoddy experience. Its well-crafted boss battles, fulfilling progression, and intricate exploration illustrate thought-provoking gameplay design. Even when considering a lacking narrative and the playtime clocking in around 10 hours if you take your time to accomplish every task, this is definitely an experience that fans of the genre should pick up. Of course, the potent ambiance and cute main character also help matters.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.