The story behind me trying Little Witch Nobeta is one most gamers are familiar with. I’m in a store, I’m in need of a new game, and the knowledgeable staff start throwing recommendations. The final game that they recommended had an adorable, anime witch on the cover surrounded by other adorable anime girls. The clerk’s description of, “Another Souls-like but with third person shooter elements” had me curious. And the rest is history. I purchased, I played, and now I’m reviewing. Little Witch Nobeta does what other Souls-like do, but it’s a lot more new-user friendly. But, it’s still a Souls-like. Don’t let the cute witch protagonist fool you.
The game opens with Nobeta, an amnesiac witch with an adorable getup and some impressive magics, gazing up at a massive castle. Something or someone is urging her to dive into the deepest parts of the castle to find its throne. Supposedly, seeing this throne will reveal everything about Nobeta and her past. She’s not alone. She’s being guided by an aloof, talking black cat that doesn’t seem too keen on Nobeta’s feelings. Her goal for Nobeta is to get to the throne as quickly as possible. Of course, we all know that there will be plenty of obstacles in her way. For a Souls-like, LWN has a lot of dialogue and story. You’ll be cheering Nobeta on the moment she steps onto the stage. Despite her feline companion providing some guidance, she’s by herself in this massive, dank castle that is not welcoming to anyone.
Nobeta’s journey through the castle’s hallowed halls are filled with bizarre enemies and traps. Nobeta can hold her own against them. It’s hard to believe that she’s an amnesiac considering how apt she is at magic. She begins the game with a standard, magic missile type spell that lets her attack enemies from a distance with non-elemental damage. Other abilities include a melee combo with her staff, a jump, a dodge, sprinting, and everything else you’ve come to expect from a Souls-like. You’ll have to monitor her health, her magic, and her stamina. One of her most powerful abilities is her ability to charge magic for an amped up version of a spell. The downside to this is that it costs a lot of magic and leaves her vulnerable as she’s chanting. Still, this is the best way to deal with groups of enemies and towering bosses. She’ll come across fire, ice, and lightning magics during her journey. Each one has its uses for dealing with enemies and puzzles, giving the game a lot of variety. Using the reticle to aim her spells is easy. The controls are tight, and for the first time in the subgenre, the camera isn’t constantly out to get you.
But, it’s not always smooth sailing. Around the halfway point, there’s a rough patch. There will be a story event in which Nobeta’s hat gets blown away by the wind and she must venture through portion of the castle to get it. This portion is dark. Very, very dark. Some of the darkness is ameliorated by orbs of light scattered about, but it doesn’t help much. It also doesn’t help that the area is a labyrinth. I wound up backtracking to the statues (LWN’s version of bonfires) not because I needed to recharge and level up, but because I just couldn’t figure out where the heck I was. This sort of thing happened a few more times during the journey to the end. I’ll admit: my sense of direction is poor. So, others might not struggle as much as I did. And the good news was that I kept powering up so much that it made later bosses less challenging. Still, areas like that weren’t fun to navigate and ultimately lowered my opinion of the game.
When you’re not sauntering in darkness, Nobeta’s adventure looks nice. The spell effects are the highlight. Watching elemental magic blast through the corridors in flashes of light and color is a constant form of entertainment. Enemies are creepy looking. Seeing them getting frozen, zapped, burnt or blasted and then turning into silhouettes of white dust feels visceral. Bosses are massive constructs that want to stop Nobeta’s adventure short. One in particular, a massive child that thinks Nobeta is just a doll, gave me a lot of trouble until I took advantage of Nobeta’s counterattack and learned the best way to time a charged fire elemental spell. Music is mostly lacking to add the game’s ambience. Sounds are standard, and voice acting is fully voiced in Japanese.
There’s a lot to find in Little Witch Nobeta. More specifically, there are a lot of collectibles that give more insight on the lore of Nobeta’s world. There’s also a bunch of adorable costumes to unlock for her. Finding it all and getting to the end can take about 20 to 30 hours. I had to do a lot of backtracking and retry a few boss fights. My time would have been less if not for all that. The core gameplay is fun, so this one of those games that’s great for a replay. The lower difficulty means easier accessibility for those new to the subgenre. This is ultimately a solid game if you can handle some rough patches during exploration.
Overall, 7.5/10: Little Witch Nobeta might be another Souls-like, but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable. Guide this adorable witch on her dangerous journey of self-discovery.