AfterPatch Review: Little Noah - Scion of Paradise
Developer: Cygames, Grounding Inc
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Review Console: Nintendo Switch OLED
ROGUELITE MAGIC! - Introduction
When I first saw the trailer for Little Noah: Scion of Paradise, it intrigued me. There was a noticeable pep to it. Perhaps it has to do with the clay-like aesthetic that adorns it. Then again, maybe the vibrancy of colours popping from the screen, punching me squarely in the jaw. Whatever the case, my eyes were delighted, and I was itching to provide coverage. It wasn’t until I got it that I came to find out something. See, it has a past on mobile devices. Learning that small tidbit was enough to pivot my unadulterated excitement to skepticism and wariness. My biggest worry was whether it utilized gross, predatory monetization on the previous platform. After researching and ultimately coming up empty-handed, I can’t help but sigh in relief. Some fears remain, but I’m optimistic. Hopefully, that won’t be biting me in the ass.
A MODEST TALE! - Writing
The overarching narrative is minimal, which, given the Roguelite nature of Little Noah, makes perfect sense. After all, a single run takes less than an hour to rocket through. Still, despite the briefness, there’s a little mystery introduced almost immediately. What’s more, it’s enough to motivate you forward until the very end. There’s only one way to describe it, and that’s short and sweet. Don’t come in expecting details to be intricate and bulky. It’s the epitome of surface-level, but to its credit, every question asked finds an answer. Nothing is left to the unknown. Sure, it requires filling in a few blanks here and there, but the gist of what it’s trying to get across is evident. Most importantly, I’m curious how a sequel would fare with additional time and focus. Now, while this facet manages only a lukewarm reception, another piques.
SO GOSH DARN CUTE! - Writing
Point blank, and with no exaggeration, I’m utterly floored by the characters. There are three in total, one of them being the titular Noah Little. Her companion is a kitty cat, but not just any standard one. See, this animal can talk. The banter between both is, without a doubt, the best aspect of the entire journey. The sheer sass that they lob at one another is quite humorous. I smiled, I felt happiness in my heart, and under my breath, hell, I even giggled. I was stunned when I saw an obscenity appear suddenly in an otherwise innocent romp. Yeah, this plotline likely won’t be rocking your socks, but the dialogue interactions sure as hell will be, thanks to being bloody endearing. What impresses me most is the existence of development - there’s this natural growth present, albeit ever so slim, in the pair of Protagonists.
GROUNDHOG DAY! - Gameplay
As soon as I mentioned an hour, the collective masses raised an eyebrow. With such a short runtime, it brings with it a hesitance that maybe the mobile roots remain intact and prospering. Rejoice, as in actuality, building Noah Little and strengthening her brute force will, on average, be a 12-hour commitment. See, as you run through every level, you outfit her with accessories of various kinds. A few bolster her damage output, while others boost defence. Then, after death, they transform into Mana - a currency utilized for purchasing permanent upgrades - from raising attack proficiency to gaining the ability to harness potions. Of course, Roguelites have that reputation of being repetitious. It won’t get arduous, though, primarily thanks to the brisk pace in conquering areas. It also appeals to itself as being an impeccable candidate for bite-sized romps. The action is swift, being a great distraction during lunch breaks.
VIOLENCE PARTNERS! - Gameplay
Combat is somewhat unique in that Noah Little isn’t swinging a blade. No, instead, she makes use of creatures known as Lilliputs. See, she’s a Soulchemist, and with her skill, she creates spiritual manifestations of enemies to fight alongside her. They not only come in various shapes and sizes but are also each assigned an element - fire, wind, water, or normal. Here’s when a tiny sliver of customization begins to slither to the forefront. I could channel a lone typing, manipulating a run to focus primarily on it. Granted, the depth here is negligible, and the gameplay experience won’t vary substantially between the choices. What does differ is the lethality. Some result in fast slaughters, which is to say, this game can effectively become a speedrunner’s wet dream. By the grace of dumb luck, I’d whittle my time to 48 minutes - hitting lower heights became my obsession.
While we’re still discussing Lilliputs, it’s imperative to note that the previously mentioned accessories are crucial to awakening the potential of these murderous creatures. A couple of the passive effects they possess are geared towards bolstering the sheer brute force of their elemental presence. You see, before transitioning into the next area, two doors await your arrival. Their significance is thus; dedicated stipulations are tied to each. For instance, cutting all store prices by half or scaling up the appearance of character stat increasing crystals. Then, there’s targeted gear explicitly meant to focus on improving damage output based on her attributes. Then, by spending specialized currency, I could open branching paths - these paths may even contribute to powering Lilliputs. Naturally, this isn’t the only method, as levelling up is viable. Much like speed running, however, it relies on Lady Luck. Rather than experience points, it requires finding identical twins.
UNLOCKABLES ANYONE!? - Gameplay
Achievement Hunters everywhere can take solace in knowing those are alive and well. Completing them adds an extra wrinkle of intrigue to running through the dungeon repeatedly. Now, I’m not keen to collect figurative awards to showcase the feats I’ve managed to pull off. I, however, absolutely gobble up a chance to unlock goodies. Well, it seems I got good news, as that’s precisely what’s at stake. By finishing tasks like inflicting a predetermined amount of damage, it then bestows a shiny trophy. Rest assured, it doesn’t just exist as this inanimate object to gawk at. Attached to each one is yet another perk that, depending on if it sports bronze, silver, or gold, grants a wide variety of effects. The better metallic quality then translates to a more potent passive. It helps lower the difficulty of an already simple challenge. One thing might cause some trouble, though.
GOING OLD SCHOOL! - Gameplay
Tutorials are a feature that’s divisive as hell because a few can get annoying. Little Noah: Scion of Paradise is a keen believer of that notion. Taking a page from an era where trial and error gameplay was prevalent, patterns are the key to defeating a boss. That said, I’d routinely be killed during the initial encounter since I would study their technique patterns. I needed to familiarize myself with the very brief animations that play right before executing a strike. If, however, you still can’t discern the key to defeating them after death, your cat friend offers a hint, although it’s relatively straightforward and shouldn’t pose an issue. Still, it’s an excellent quality of life addition. Speaking of, the ability to instantaneously fast travel at a whim is available to exploit, and it’s damn lovely. It nullifies the tedium of backtracking, streamlining travel.
AN ALIGHT LISTEN! - Sound Design
My expectation for the soundtrack of titles underneath the Roguelite genre is lenient. The key reason is that thanks to repetition, I end up listening to a wrestling podcast anyway. Not due to the music itself being abysmal because it’s not. It’s because of the mindless nature of the gameplay. I free up brain space to process the information from elsewhere while also kicking ass. When I wasn’t, what I heard was not stellar but serviceable enough that my ears were never weeping. The diversity of the available selection isn’t as robust as you’d think, spanning only four locations and keeping the same tune as you journey through one of them. If I’m honest, it almost seems as though there was something that was shackling greatness. It’s hard to articulate, but there’s untapped potential waiting to bust, hopefully, in a sequel.
AND THE CUTESY VERDICT IS…
Little Noah: Scion of Paradise left me genuinely at a loss for words. I never expected it to be blessed with an unbridled good time with an addictive loop, yet here we are. The silky fluency of her movements and responsiveness of the buttons helped ensure that my engagement never wavered. While finishing the story is a modest affair in terms of time spent, clocking in at a paltry 12 hours, completionists will, without a doubt, squeeze about 35 hours, if not more. I can’t get over how wholesome this game is. Nothing will take the adorableness that emanates from the titular Little Noah. Nothing will take from the fun back-and-forth teasing between her and her partner cat. Honestly, I was prepared for a dumpster fire but found myself a sparkling jewel in the rough. Free DLC is currently available, too, and I’m so there.
Little Noah: Scion of Paradise is a charming, fabulous little adventure. At $14.99, it’s also priced perfectly for what it is. It gets my full recommendation.
LITTLE NOAH: SCION OF PARADISE IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Special thanks to Cygames for providing the code used for this coverage.