Little Witch Nobeta is rich on fun, rewarding gameplay and light on cutscenes, the way gaming should be. Right to the action, no hand holding, no unskippable cinematic dissertation.
Outstanding lead character design, beautiful animation, top voice acting by Konomi Kohara as Nobeta. Little Witch Nobeta is a potential breakout franchise out of nowhere for Pupuya Games and Idea Factory International that frankly needs more mainstream hype.
This Little Witch Nobeta review contains spoilers. We played through a PS4 version of the game on a PlayStation 5 console.
Little Witch Nobeta has arcadey, platformer, and RPG upgrade elements all in one. While it is ‘Souls-like’, the shooter’s DNA feels part Splatoon, part Ratchet and Clank control wise to me. Even some Virtual On thrown in the later stages when Nobeta’s dodge upgrades to a kind of boost dash.
Players can enhance Nobeta’s abilities at Goddess statues which also act as save spots and respawn enemies (important for grinding to level up). You can upgrade Health, Mana, Stamina, Intelligence, Strength (mana generation), (main driver for magic power), and Haste (speed of maxed out spellcasting).
Personally, I found the ‘Intelligence’ magic power stat to be most important when facing boss ‘Monica’ for maximum damage under timed pressure (more on this later). But initially high ‘Stamina’ combined with the speedy Ice power seemed like the most powerful combo. Essentially, fast attack and dodge.
Ultimately, your play style will determine what works best for you.
Nobeta gets four main magical powers: Arcane, Ice, Fire, and Thunder. All have their distinct advantages and disadvantages to use.
For example: You can target multiple enemies with Ice spellcasting and rapidly shoot but Fire and Thunder do way more damage. However, Fire is slower and uses up a ton of mana while Thunder (really lightning) takes a bit to shoot again, so a miss is a lost attack basically.
Thunder has the advantage of working like sniping, so you can target enemies distantly away with a zoom in.
* I didn’t really find myself using Arcane too often after obtaining the other powers, but its single shot attack with lesser power than fire.
You have to locate the upgraded levels of these powers in treasure chests across Nobeta’s journey, giving you incentive to explore every nook and cranny of the castle before reaching “The Point of No Return”.
This includes Wind level 2 which upgrades Nobeta to able to dodge while jumping, or gaining the teleport from Goddess statue ability to other areas. You can also increase your rate of absorption of souls…
Player is not forced in Little Witch Nobeta to follow linear route exclusively
It feels great not to have arrows and directives leading the player on where to go for once in a modern game. Even if you might lost once in a while, it’s quite easy to get back on track or more likely fall into a secret location entirely by accident…
Quite literally in fact, as at one point while running through a corridor you fall into what seemed to be a trap into nothingness… But you actually drop right in front a treasure chest containing Wind upgrade 2!
The reward for exploration makes you want to check even more parts of the castle levels you might have missed. Which at worst simply leads to absorbing more enemy souls to upgrade Nobeta, even if you don’t find anything… But there’s usually a treasure chest and some missed items somewhere.
Speaking of which, from the beginning you can carry up to four item crystals (to recover/regenerate health, recover/regenerate mana, create a defense barrier and so.)
While these are vital during boss fights, particularly when running out of mana, usually I found I was dropping the ‘meager crystals’ for better ‘Holy’ ones but still not using them in regular (non-boss) gameplay.
The plot is revealed casually with Nobeta alongside a black cat (or little black kitty). Although we won’t spoil specifics here.
Nobeta’s cute animations
The attention detail on every last aspect of Nobeta herself is exceptional. Developer Pupuya Games went above and beyond on facial expressions and likely studied what made Super Mario 64’s starting “It’s a me, Mario!” screen so important.
When you load a game, Nobeta is sleeping (Mario nap style) with her witches’ hat in front of a goddess statue. If Nobeta runs out of stamina, she briefly trips in a fun, memorable way. A true game signature.
On a moving platform, and not moving the controller? Nobeta will begin looking around upwards in awe at her surroundings.
Even flipping switches to open doors has Nobeta doing a little hop to pull the lever down with all her might.
Enemy wise, I felt the doll enemies and crafted soul bosses were more aesthetically, visually pleasing than the kind of blobs and orbs that attack you.
Little Witch Nobeta features both exhilarating moments when platforming… And the occasional ‘cheap’ unavoidable deaths in the lava stage. Getting a head start for a sprint jump and just making a ledge while avoiding lava will give you a gaming rush.
On the other hand, occasionally an off screen enemy will hit you out of nowhere leading Nobeta to fall into lava annoyingly with no recourse.
Grinding and Reward System for Monica
While players will differ on this, Monica is in my opinion, the most difficult boss of the game without grinding. Particularly, because of Monica’s part 2, Street Fighter 3 Gill style resurrection. Luckily, the game does not force you to play ‘Round 1’ against Monica again.
In part 2 of the fight, Monica breaks the floor Nobeta is standing on into pieces until there is nothing left but lava. Essentially, it becomes a timed fight, which is why the ice and dodge combo does not work here.
You can dodge and run/leap to the other remaining ground pieces over the lava three times until there is nothing left.
Personally, I found only grinding Nobeta’s ‘Intelligence’ stat (magic power) for Fire to take off massive damage to be effective to defeating her.
You will also want to up your mana, haste, and strength to respectable levels as you will run out of mana fast using Fire. Luckily dodging attacks gives you a bit of mana each time.
Accessibility Fonts and Minor Glitches
Little Witch Nobeta could have used larger fonts. There is a ton of character chat box real estate that goes unused. It’s readable but you might find yourself using the PlayStation 5’s zoom feature to make it more comfortable. It kind of seems the font is geared more toward playing closeup on a computer monitor than a TV.
There’s a chapter where Nobeta loses her hat in a cutscene and decides to go looking for it. But when the cutscene ended, Nobeta had her witches’ hat back.
However, after saving at the goddess statue the hat disappeared properly, plot wise. A minor glitch that’ll likely be fixed in a patch. Hopefully, an increase font option will also be added.
Little Witch Nobeta Review Score: 9.0 out of 10
Excellent gameplay, rich depth, great graphics.
Disclosure: A North American PlayStation 4 copy of Little Witch Nobeta was provided to The Natural Aristocrat® for advance review by Idea Factory International.
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