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Review: Noitu Love 2 Devolotuion
With the onslaught of 2D retro indie games in recent years, it is easy to overlook certain titles. It’s the current trend and it’s slowly reaching a point where people consider it a cash-in on 16-bit nostalgia. However, going in without such prejudice can reward with a nice little experience, as is the case with Noitu Love 2 Devolution.
You play as Xoda Rap, a Peacekeeper of Earth, working towards stopping the Darn army threat. Without going into too much detail, as the game is short enough as it is, your job is to beat up a horde of robots. Now, the most common occurrence with these type of games is that they either borrow heavily from Games of Old, or are, in a way, a love letter to the Golden Age of gaming. What actually surprised me about Noitu Love 2 is that it is obviously inspired by the 16-bit era, but still tries to innovate with its gameplay. I had to put down my retro gamepad, because the game actually requires a mouse.
As you fight the Darn army, you move using the WASD keys, while you aim, attack and use special moves with the mouse. Depending on the characters you use, it can be a beat ‘em up, a shoot ‘em up, or a sort of hybrid. It looks more complicated at first glance than it actually is; a quick run through the tutorial and a few minutes of regular gameplay and you’ll have the hang of everything. Noitu Love 2 tries to break the monotony by adding special kinds of enemies and environmental obstacles, and thankfully doesn’t make the mistake of adding puzzles, or trying to delve deep into other genres. It’s long enough to keep you entertained, with higher difficulty settings if you want to attempt being more oldschool.
Which brings me to the actual aesthetics of the title. I wouldn’t be able to point you towards a specific game and tell you “I see the Developer has played this.” The inspiration rather lies within the design philosophy of older titles. Some moments reminded me of Treasure’s library, while others reminded me of many Neo Geo arcade games. However, this is all a good thing. The wide variety of enemies, the levels and especially the bosses are all done excellently and reward attentive players. My first run on normal difficulty was a bit of a joyride, but as I tried hard mode, I realized I needed to pay attention to my surroundings. When I did, I noticed no cheap shots from either mooks or bosses. There were enough audio and visual cues that it all seemed slightly hard, but fair.
It takes around three hours to breeze through the game with the main character and two unlockable ones. If you wish to try your hand at harder difficulty settings, then it takes a bit longer. For the asking price, though, it’s worth it. My only complaint is the lack of online leaderboards, mostly because the way the game scores you at the end of each level begged for such a feature. However, it’s hardly a deal-breaker, especially considering it wasn’t an oversight as much as programming limitation.