Noitu Love: Devolution Review

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Game Title: Noitu Love 2: Devolution
Developer: Joakim Sandburg, Mp2 Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download (09/22/2016)

The indie game scene has been slowly expanding to consoles a lot over the years. Nintendo is in on it, too. Not with developing indie games, but bringing indie games over to their platforms. If you watched the last 3DS-themed Nintendo Direct, they showcased a small segment about an indie schedule for their handheld with games like Axiom Verge in the lineup.

I’ve been preparing to review one of these games for a couple weeks now. Just released today is fast-paced side-scrolling platform game that the indie scene on PC has known for a long time. The sequel to hit title, Noitu Love, here is my review for the 3DS release of Noitu Love 2: Devolution!

Story

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The intro recaps upon the events of the first game, helping this be a standalone title. It’s been 100 years since the legendary hero, Noitu Love, saved the world from the Darn Armies. In the present, the world is kept at peace until the Darn Armies suddenly resurrect and attack again. Taking on the mantle, a new heroine called Xoda Rap heads out to stop them, unknowingly running into a time-distorted world.

The story of Noitu Love 2 certainly isn’t going to make you weep on the sofa, but there’s an interesting tale to be told. If you’re a fan of time travel, you’ll be sure to enjoy the ongoing plot from start to finish.

Gameplay

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Devolution is a fast-paced side-scrolling platform game in the vein of Mega Man. Throughout the game, you’ll be running, jumping, attacking, and all around moving through stages as fast as possible, all ending with a boss fight to take you to the next area. All in all, imagine it like a Mega Man game, except with melee combat instead of shooting.

As above, progression will be done in stages. In each stage, your task is to move through, fight enemies, and reach the boss at the end so you can continue the story. This isn’t all simple, though. You will using a lot of acrobatic maneuvers to get through. Lots of stages have puzzles to remove blockades. You might need to, for example, hang off a rope to raise a guillotine and then only have a couple seconds to jump off said cord and dash through the opening before it comes down to slice you in half.

Above all else, the game is meant to be played very quickly with constant movement. Many enemies will endlessly re spawn in areas, so you can’t just kill everything and stop to see where to go next. The moment you kill everything and stop, more enemies appear in front of you, requiring you to constantly be moving and fighting, judging where to jump and go as you slash through waves of enemies.

The fact that you have several types of attacks depending on direction helps with this. You can endlessly slash in one place but you can swipe the touch screen to do dashing attacks up, down, left, or right. This lets you switch things up and make little combos instead of just jumping and doing the same attack over and over again. It helps things not get repetitive as you’re playing through the game.

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When you reach boss fights, it’s also a fast-paced experience. While each boss does have a pattern for you to learn, you just as much need to be constantly in motion, be it jumping and doing normal attacks or using the stylus to do dashing attacks to both damage the boss and move out of the way to avoid getting yourself killed.

All of this comes together well and remains fun because of how fast paced it is. Some platformers have you slowly walking and attacking but Noitu Love 2 keeps things going fast from start to finish.

Now, with speed in mind, know that the game will feel like a bit of a rush by the time it’s over. A normal run through the game will likely take you no more than a couple hours. This works well for the game type, but I can’t say spending $10 for a 2-hour experience is something gamers will take a liking to. This is especially noteworthy since the same experience can be bought on Steam for half the price.

Controls

Here’s where things start to get ugly in the game. But before we get to that, let’s talk about touch controls. A lot of menus and all combat maneuvers must be done with the stylus pen. For those against touch controls, there are no ways of turning this off. Combat is locked to the stylus.

This is an issue because of how the game plays. Noitu Love 2 is very fast-paced. You move with the D-Pad and you attack with the stylus pen. The touch maneuvers are far too fast paced to be able to be used with just your finger so it remains in that awkward stage of holding the left side of the system with one hand and holding the stylus pen over the screen and holding the right side of the system all with the other hand.

I personally see this as a situation that remained very awkward and in much need of button alternatives to combat. This touch orientation would work well on a device that has a more responsive non-stylus touch screen (like mobile devices and the PS Vita), but on the 3DS, it just feels awkward. And when something you do almost every moment of the game is awkward, it really hampers the experience.

Presentation

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Visually, the game really hits that retro feel well. It’s got a 16-bit presentation on it that matches right in with those classic platformers like Mega Man and the like. This also looks nice especially on the smaller screens of the 2DS and normal 3DS. The music also feels like it was taken straight from that era.

Performance I have no problems with. It loads quickly and plays nice and smooth (which is important for a fast-paced game like this)

Summary

Noitu Love: Devolution is a game that excelled at being an indie before “it was cool”. The experience is brought down by some very awkward touch controls, but if you’re into fast-paced platformers, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this small game.

8/10

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