Okay. Despite the hours I’ve spent on this thing, I still have no idea how you pronounce it’s name. Is it ‘no-it-a’? Or ‘noy-ta’? That aside, this is definitely one of the most ‘more-ish’ games that I’ve ever come across. Players take on the role of a wizard, complete with magic wand and the ability to levitate short distances, trying to navigate their way through the perils of the Holy Mountain. And by perils, I refer to the numerous denizens which are equally happy hunting and killing each other as they are the player (which does, in some circumstances give you a mild advantage).
As you explore the mountain and kill its bloodthirsty occupants, you can find gold, spells and new wands. Should you be fortunate to survive long enough to reach the glowing exit portal, you’ll be rewarded with increased and replenished health, all your spells being refreshed (some spells have a limited number of casts), the option of buying news spells or wands, and the ability to pick a permanent upgrade. These upgrades range from immunity to fire (very handy) to teleporting away to a random location if you take damage (an absolute disaster if you stumble into toxic sludge or fire, which applies damage over time). Should you get killed, you lose everything, and start over at the beginning again.
And that will happen. A lot. You may blunder into a large group of foes or teleport directly into a pit of lava. You could get hit by a ricocheting saw-blade conjured from that new wand you picked up. Or, you might pick up a new wand, look at its stats and think ‘I’m not familiar with this one, what happens if I use it?’, and find that it sets off a ring of explosions right around you, blowing your unfortunate wizard into the next century.
I love it. Rarely has defeat felt so good. Yes, you start over at the beginning again, but this is never dull thanks to the fact that the levels are randomly generated, and now you have a bit more knowledge to help you on the way. In the first level alone, you may reach the exit, one hit away from death with barely $50 worth of gold in your pocket. Or you might breeze through with over $1,000. This is a game which hands nothing to you on a platter. Even when you discover a secret item, it can be quite a while before you deduce just what you can do with it. It’s this sense of discovery, and never knowing what you’re going to find which makes it so compelling. That, and the totally novel take on how the environment works.
You see, each pixel is assigned a value (wood, rock, snow and so on), and is physically simulated. Snow can be melted and turned into ice, while lava can be cooled to rock. Steel girders can’t be drilled through, but conduct electricity rather well (don’t shoot a lightening bolt at the surface you’re standing on – unless you’ve picked up the immunity to electricity perk). Blundered into toxic waste? Find another liquid to wash it out of your clothes. On fire? Find a pond of water to douse the flames (just be careful, jumping into a vat of whisky or oil is not advised). This also opens up a range of options for traveling through the levels. You might find a fire spell which allows you to burn your way through wooden barriers. You may launch acid globs which eat their way through whatever they come into contact with, or even a handy drill which lets you bypass most monsters (though at the expense of gold).
Recently released from early access to overwhelmingly positive reviews, there’s plenty to explore, experiment with, and more ways to meet your demise than you can poke a stick at. A brilliant concept and well executed, Noita is highly, highly recommended. ■