A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Noita is a downloadable adventure game for Windows PC. The game features plenty of platforming, combat, and problem-solving. Its gameplay can be rewarding, as it encourages exploration and experimentation. That said, it can be equally frustrating, especially for casual players, due to its depth, complexity, and general lack of guidance or direction. Noita’s gameplay contains lots of combat, with the player attacking -- and being attacked -- with a variety of damage-dealing spells, projectiles, and other weapons. There’s lots of fire, explosions, blood, and gore, but the pixel graphics generally lend the violence a more cartoony feel. There’s no story, fleshed-out characters, or clear objective to speak of, so there’s little in the way of positive messaging or role models, aside from the protagonist’s determination to progress.
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What's it about?
NOITA's driven more by its roguelike gameplay -- a genre defined by randomly generated levels and the permanent loss of all progression upon death -- than any narrative arc or character development. Players assume the role of a wand-wielding witch (or Noita, in Finnish,) a nameless, faceless protagonist who repeatedly attempts to delve deeper and deeper into a sprawling underground cave system. The character's path and actions are entirely shaped by the player, so there's no directed story or well-defined goal or objective. There are some general fantasy themes supported by the spell-casting combat and mythical creatures encountered.
Is it any good?
Given a quick glance, this adventure could pass for just another entry in the increasingly popular roguelike genre. Like many other games, Noita features randomly generated levels and punishing deaths that rob you of your progress. But if you go a bit deeper into its cavernous underground, you’ll find it layers a few fresh ideas into that familiar formula. For starters, all those pixels producing Noita’s artful, retro presentation aren’t merely there to make the game look pretty. Every last one of the vibrant dots carries physical properties, meaning they can be dynamically interacted with to help or hurt you. Shoot a fireball at a seemingly static wall, for example, and the projectile could spread until the entire screen’s consumed in flames.
Toss in the ability to collect different wands -- then upgrade and outfit them with a variety of spells -- and interacting with the world and its inhabitants becomes an endless exercise in discovery. Mastering the best combinations by understanding how they interact with whatever object, obstacle, or enemy they touch is key to progressing further, ensuring each dungeon run is better than the last. When everything clicks, this loop can be very satisfying, compelling you to press on and suss out how to blast through the next set of challenges. Just as often, though, especially when you’re learning the ropes, it feels like an exhausting run on the trial-and-error treadmill. Deaths are swift and frequent and, worse, often confusing. You’ll regularly meet your demise with little knowledge of what killed you or how to avoid the same fate on your next run. Noita essentially drops the player into its world and asks them to figure everything out for themselves. While this is intentional -- which makes it more appealing to seasoned fans of these games -- it presents a steep learning curve for nearly everyone else. If you've got the patience and count yourself among the niche audience the game's aimed at, you're in for a treat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's world. Given Noita's lack of direct storytelling, what do you know about its world based on playing in it? What have you learned about the main character? What do you think their motives and goals are in the game?
Do you like games with randomly generated worlds? What are some of the advantages of randomly generated content? What don't you like about the world not remaining consistent?
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