Title: Noel The Mortal Fate
Developer: Vaka Game Magazine, KANAWO
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Developed by Kanawo, Noel The Mortal Fate is an excellent example of how RPG Maker can be used for interesting and varied gameplay. Before in the Case Book of Arne review, I’ve mentioned that the software isn’t bound to only creating RPGs, allowing, for instance, for unique adventure games to be made.
Keep in mind that the game is still ongoing, with 7 chapters as the base version on Steam. The Japanese release is currently up to season 11. Each chapter is short, usually taking at most 2 hours to finish.
Noel the Mortal Fate tells the story of Noel Cerquetti, a rich girl who dedicated much of her life to become a famous pianist like her parents. However, that dream is crushed during the yearly competition organized by the city she lives in, Laplus. After feeling humiliated, a series of circumstances bring her to break the taboo and make a deal with a great devil.
I’ll try avoiding spoilers, but that pact doesn’t go as well as she’d hoped for as she’s tricked into a situation that forces her to lose her limbs. As she hits rock bottom, Noel walks a new path of revenge against those who took everything she had alongside devil Caron.
The story is all about how this 15-year-old comes to terms with her circumstances and finds it within herself to focus on revenge. The writing can be a little immature, with some plot points falling apart in several instances.
Logic aside, Noel the Mortal Fate knows how to make the emotional aspects of it hit. It’s the kind of melodramatic trainwreck that understands how to make revenge compelling without bothering to make it reasonable or realistic as far as a world with devils can go.
In exchange, the narrative focuses on character development as Noel, the great devil Caron with whom she makes a pact, enemies, and potential allies all have to deal with their circumstances. Seeing them evolve and getting to understand them better is a big motivation, but so are the explosive endings that close a “battle of the season” conflict while always offering a bombastic twist that kept me wishing to see what’s coming next.
Gameplay-wise, Noel, Caron, and other playable characters have to make their way through various areas. To progress, they must complete light-puzzles, stealth sequences, and direct combat. A specific chapter is even focused on a casino, with different kinds of interactions related to playing, cheating, and extortion.
Battles against opponents usually work with a bump system similar to the very first Ys game, which means contact with the enemy is the way to cause damage. It’s also the way to take damage, so hitting them from behind is more advantageous. Caron is the one to usually do it, having to protect Noel from the brute force of her enemies.
Caron can equip specific stances to deal with these situations. They change his HP and attack parameters and can also affect other things. For instance, one pattern has a chance to not take damage when battling an enemy from the front while another has a bigger knockback. When a situation would be better played with a specific one, the game mentions what kind of stance would be better.
However, there are also other circumstances for battle. At some points, the player may have to click the screen to deflect multiple attacks. There are also boss battles for each chapter, and they all have some sort of gimmick. Usually, the player has to wait for an opportunity before hitting the bosses, but the specifics make them feel different. Exploration also occasionally revolves around some powers as Caron often needs to use his chains to move upwards and drag Noel with him.
The areas that offer some sort of challenge to the player are evaluated with a reward in P points, which the player can use to buy recovery items. Not being seen during stealth segments or using the right answers when talking to a guard can result in more points.
Noel the Mortal Fate also has a reasonably good soundtrack. As the story is a rather emotion-driven revenge plot, the music represents the characters’ feelings. What’s particularly epic are the moments that deliver major twists accompanied by adrenaline-inducing tracks, usually electronic music with enough nuance to make each moment unique and engaging.
On the other hand, the visuals are a little mixed. The sprite work has this spatial sense that makes it look slightly 3D-ish, but it looks really blurry. Facial expressions lack definition with uncolored eyes (most NPCs on season 1 don’t even have them), and the body lines feel like a bad HD filter applied over amateurish sprites.
The portraits and CGs compensate for this lacking sprite work. During conversations, the characters have detailed portraits showing how they actually should look like. They are very expressive with a nice variety of versions.
The CGs complement big twists well, making them feel more impactful along with the soundtrack. The best part is how they use specific colors to represent characters instead of going for what they should look like. For instance, Noel’s yellow and Caron’s red make for striking imagery that works as cathartic set pieces.
Noel the Mortal Fate is all about impact. It’s a revenge melodrama that wants to keep the player on the edge of their seat, eating all the plot twists and caring about how the characters end up. This may not be the whole story, but it still manages to provide a wildly emotional ride even through limited visuals.
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