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Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review (Switch eShop)

Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review (Switch eShop)

Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld / disconnected)

Cygames may be known for its success in the mobile field with titles such as Granblue Fantasy, Shadowverse, and Dragalia Lost (which the developer partnered with Nintendo), but the company seems to have an interest in translating these IPs into more traditional console games. Last year’s excellent Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle showed that the popular card game could work quite effectively in JRPG format, and now Cygames is doing it again by taking Battle Champs– a failed Clash of Clans clone – and transform it into a roguelite called Little Noah: Scion of Paradise. Although it lacks new ideas, Little Noah does a fantastic job of giving players a tough, sweet and enjoyable action experience that feels great to play.

The story follows Noah, the alchemist’s captain of a majestic airship, who quickly finds himself trapped when her airship crashes just outside mysterious changing ruins. Here she soon encounters a tangled memory loss (not called Morgana …) and a scary villain named Greigh who both seem to have some kind of connection to their lost father. Noah has no choice but to search the ruins for the parts she needs to repair her ship, and Noah embarks on an adventure to rescue Zipper (the cat) from Greigh and perhaps learn more about what happened to her father.

Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

It’s not a particularly deep or compelling story, but occasional brief interactions between characters help keep things light and whimsical. In addition, those of you who actually managed to play Battle Champs at the time may appreciate some references here and there – although we add that you do not need any background with this IP to get in touch with the story. For better or worse, the story is typically an animefiller, but it does not get in the way of the largely excellent gameplay.

Little Noah can almost be described as a sweeter version of Dead Cells. You explore medium-sized, randomly generated 2D levels and fight enemies along the way, collecting gold and other useful drops as you succeed. Strictly speaking, there is no “leveling up” that takes place here, but collecting important pickups such as new accessories or crystals will change Noah’s stats and give her access to new moves that help increase her chances. Each level consists of you either going room by room through a dungeon in search of the door to take you to the next step or fighting against a boss character who acts as a gatekeeper.

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The battle takes place in a live action system where you use Lilliputs – Pokémon-like enemies that you can summon – to do all the attack for you. You can have up to five Lilliputs equipped in your combination chain, and performing a combination is as simple as squeezing the Y button to trigger each Lilliputs action continuously. Some will make a basic slash or stab, while others may throw a penetrating beam or sweep upward that carries both Noah and her enemy upward. In addition, Lilliputs can be placed in one of two skill slots where they then use more powerful attacks followed by short chills. Technically, it’s actually not Noah Do something here, which feels a little strange, but we really liked the possibilities this system opens up to set up combinations.

Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

There is a certain type of strategy that comes with deciding in what order you want to arrange Lilliputs, as some of the attack types synergize better with each other. For example, an enemy swinging a large club that knocks out enemies can be useful as either a combination finisher or as the penultimate attack, followed by lobbing a magic bullet that can cross the gap faster than another melee attack could. Although there are only a few dozen Lilliputs you could possibly have, it can be fun to see how certain combinations work together, and this helps keep each race healthy.

An element that unfortunately does not feel nearly as fresh is the level design, which is resoundingly average all the way. The world you are exploring looks absolutely beautiful, but it is mostly a complex collection of rooms with extremely basic platform sections. Distinctive level gimmicks or stage dangers are sparse, and apart from the strange optional challenge room that tempts you to defy a tough platform glove, it does not take too long before the adventure gets a sense of repetition. Strictly speaking, this does not make Little Noah feel worse – the fight really feels that good – but those of you who are looking for a little more in addition to slashing-and-dashing, may be looking for.

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Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

Since this is an action-heavy roguelite, it is quite possible to beat the whole game in just a few hours, but you will probably take much longer than that when you run biomes again and lock in a build on the way to take another crack at a tough boss. When you inevitably die, all the Lilliputs you collected and all the accessories or powerups you found will be lost, but that does not necessarily mean you lose everything. All the lost items will be converted to Mana, which serves as a currency for meta-progression that you can use to build Noah’s power permanently across races. Mana can be used to strengthen basic parameters such as attack and maximum health, unlock new movement options and give you access to better items and Lilliputs to potentially appear in future races.

Even when you fail, there is always something else you have made progress on, whether it is getting enough Mana for an upgrade you have looked at or inadvertently meeting the requirements for a performance that unlocks a new passive boost for how much damage you do . In this way, Little Noah feels as if it is made more easily accessible to players of all skill levels, without necessarily addressing each other too much in front of each other. This is further enhanced by the inclusion of a few difficulty levels that you can change whenever you want (apart from the most difficult, there is all or nothing with it) if you feel the game is challenging you too much or too little.

In many ways, it feels like Little Noah is playing things a little too safe; It’s not something it does particularly badly, but all the ideas explored here are permeated and lack the imaginative spark needed to separate it from the herd. We enjoyed our time with it and will follow how it grows as the promised DLC updates after launch begin to roll in, but it’s the kind of game we’re struggling to see being at the top of anyone’s list for this genre. Those of you who can not get enough of roguelitter will definitely find a lot to love here, but just remember that this is largely a “more of the same” kind of game.

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Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

Visually, the graphics feel like a cross between Kirby Star Allies and the Bravely Default series, as chibi characters and enemies fight against it in richly detailed environments with great depth of field. The color palettes of each biome are kept nicely separated from each other, and each stage of a biome usually has some unique qualities that set it apart from its brethren. It goes without saying that it looks like a lot better than the mobile game that preceded it, but even compared to most genre contemporaries on Switch, Little Noah is certainly a great game with performance that matches. Although it is not 60 fps, we experienced very few cases where there were remarkable image drops, and no one directly affected our gameplay.

The soundtrack does a good job of matching the playful and whimsical type of tone that Little Noah goes after, although we found ourselves paying very little attention to it as time went on. There is nothing here that is particularly catchy or memorable, but it certainly helps to enhance the atmosphere and stay away from the action.

Conclusion

Little Noah is a game that we can easily recommend, but with the proviso that it is not really special in any way. The quality of the battle and the design of the progression systems make it clear that the developers are big fans of roguelites and understand what makes them alluring, but Little Noah is pretty easy on his own ideas. Sometimes it’s enough; not all games need to reinvent the wheel, and Little Noah certainly feels it deserves credit for how efficiently it delivers on the roguelite formula. This may not be a game to rush out and buy right away, but keep an eye on this and keep that in mind when you feel like snapping another roguelite. If you are looking for a solid “one of these”, it is well worth the time and money.

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