Noita: Wands, Alchemy and Inevitable Explosions

Fiddle with wands, spells and alchemy until eventually you blow yourself up. Sound fun? Of course this is where video games shine, with that whole restart/extra lives mechanism, us gamers can do things that should absolutely never be “tried at home” in reality.

Noita is a rogue-lite, physics-based game by Nolla Games. Every pixel in the world is physically simulated which allows loads of interesting interactions with the player, the enemies and the crazy spells and potions one encounters. The player can shoot objects and enemies with a variety of spells loaded into wands which can be adjusted at “rest areas” at the end of each area. The player can also kick things and throw “flasks” which can contain various liquids. The flasks can also be “spewed” like a fountain to unload smaller portions of the liquids.

Lots of things catching on fire in this game.. Luckily wizard robes can hold a lot of water when well soaked.

Part of the fun of this game for me is that the enemies are not necessarily allies to each other. They quite often end up battling among themselves, which can sometimes be provoked by the player. This is a lot of fun as enemies that the player doesn’t defeat directly is worth a double helping of gold as a reward. This includes enemies defeated by environmental hazards, such as minecarts that are kicked and subsequently roll over enemies or when they drown in potions, water or sludge, for example.

When I started playing this game I really thought the wand crafting would be the biggest draw to me, but I have admittedly had pretty poor luck with it for the most part. Sure I understand basically how the wand statistics work and how spells sometimes affect them, but for the most part I find my runs are best when I simply get some kind of spell that spews a load of bouncy bullets and just splatter everything I can. Of course I have yet to actually finish the game, so take my “advice” for what it cost you to gather. There are lots of informative videos and web pages that dissect this aspect of the game in detail, but my problem tends to be that I never run across the spells I need to do the things I want with the wands I discover. Perhaps I will become more flexible and better able to work this out over time as I play more. Play time is limited, of late, so progress is slow.

There is a perk system, generally acquiring one new ability at each rest point (Holy Mountain). They are a mixed bag, though, and I have found that only about 20% of them actually impact my runs significantly. The various immunities are by far my favorites. There are others that are just fun, though, like “More Hate”, which makes the enemies extra irritable and prone to infighting and “Trick Greed” which gives you even more bonus gold for those “accidental” enemy casualties.

Fire Immunity, the one on the right end is a fun one. As its name suggests, it makes you totally immune to fire (though not lava, oddly) which is a pretty big advantage as most enemies are quite flammable.

While in this area, just before choosing perks for the area just completed, you get a chance to pick up either new wands or spells. It is random which kind of shop spawns, and it pays off to have actually collected a lot of gold. 300–400 gold per zone usually will let you pick up at least one really good wand if it is available, or virtually any spell, so it pays to be thorough in your exploration if you want to have a shopping spree.

Spells today, and not any great ones though the Double Spell (the second from the left) can be pretty nice with the right spell/wand combination.

Oh, and careful there in the ol’ “Holy Mountain”.. the gods of Noita are easily angered and pretty much blame you if anything damages their precious temple . This results in a rather nasty enemy spawning that can really ruin your day. It can actually be pretty exciting to try and get past it but can also really stink if it ruins what seemed to be a pretty good run. Please observe the havoc unfold from when an enemy dynamite chipped off a bit of Holy Mountain brick…

I do enjoy the quiet, spooky ambience that is the games primary “soundtrack”. Most of the sounds the player will notice will be the angry gurgles and shouts of the creatures that populate the areas which are being explored. There is little more to tell here, it is an early access game after all, so perhaps they will add music at some point? It wouldn’t really affect my opinion of the game in any case as the ambience seems to fit just fine.

It would be difficult to identify the main reason I keep coming back to Noita. I believe one of the primary draws is the games immediacy and surface simplicity. It is one that can be picked up, played through a few attempts and stopped when time is up.. or when frustration reaches critical capacity. I find that I rarely play it for over an hour, and more commonly for 15-30 minutes at a time. As a busy adult that is about as long as I can typically spare anyway, so it keeps my gaming fix intact while not destroying my productivity. It is fun to just meander about the first two areas, which can actually be quite difficult at times, but usually are forgiving enough to allow casual exploration. If I find that I have ended up with some unusually good spells, wands or perks, I’ll save that game to pick back up and try later to see how far I can make it. Please don’t be put off by my mention of “surface simplicity”. From what I’ve read there are lots of ways to explore the depths of the game, from expert level wand-craft to weird alchemy tricks, my intention was to point out that the game is flexible enough to be fun both ways.

Better get used to seeing this message.. Embrace it!

Overall Noita is one of the most entertaining games I have played in quite some time. I have tried several over the last 6 months and it is the only one that has really stuck with me. It is fresh enough each time to be exciting and I just have a soft spot for well-done rogue-lite/like games. I just love to see what interesting things might spawn if I try “just one more run”. As a game still in early access, it is pretty exciting to see the updates as well, as one can hope for cool new spells, perks or enemies. Give it a try and as always..

Grow Strong. Game On.

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