It's great when long-lost treasures get reintroduced to gaming audiences. As a previous PC-exclusive, the Noitu Love series is finally available on consoles so get your stylus ready to kick some Darn butt!
Devolution is the second game in the Noitu Love series. It originally debuted on PC in 2008 and took over eight years to come to console. Now that it's finally here, I'm one very happy gamer. As you take the tutorial, you'll quickly realise that this is not your average 2D action game because instead of using the face buttons to perform attacks, you use the touch screen. This may not sound too appealing yet it's handled so intuitively that I can't imagine playing through this adventure any other way. Basically, you use your left hand to control your character by moving around with the stick and pressing a shoulder button to jump while your right hand is used to tap, swipe, rub, and drag on the touch screen. Performing a rapid-fire succession of melee attacks, throws, special abilities, and shield deploys while ripping through the army of robots known as Darns is just awesome. It's fast, relentless, and above all else; incredibly fun!
Obviously, this is yet another indie game with retro-inspired graphics. However, I must say that the visuals are very charming and perfectly reminiscent of the 16-bit era. In fact, as you can see from the screenshots, Noitu Love: Devolution's aspect ratio is even 4:3. It feels like a SNES buried treasure. The music is fantastic as well with tunes that sound like they're ripped straight out of a retro game. However, one part of the presentation that's lacking is the dialogue scenes. There's very little sound as the characters speak which makes them kind of flat. It would have been cool to hear different tones for each character but this is by no means a big complaint.
As you play through Noitu Love: Devolution's seven-level campaign, you'll be amazed by how many different situations are presented to you. You'll find yourself soaring through the skies as if you're playing an old-school shoot 'em up, connecting lasers to nodes so you can open doors, balancing on a wheel that's rapidly moving downhill, and facing a diverse cast of absolutely incredible boss fights. These bosses require you to change up your strategies and occasionally figure some things out before taking them down. For example, pushing certain piano keys can make hammers fall while getting past some enemies' shields requires different tactics. My favourite boss fight consists of a jazz quartet who each take turns fighting you in their own unique way. There's so much to see and do; even a secret area complete with its own boss. After all is said and done, this is one campaign that you won't soon forget.
Seeing how much I love Noitu Love: Devolution, I hate to bring up some of its downsides but here goes. The campaign is rather short as it can easily be beaten in one sitting. That being said, there are unlockable difficulty settings and characters. Playing through again with new characters makes it feel like an almost entirely new experience although you'll still come across the same scenarios. Also, besides playing through the campaign with various configurations, there aren't any other modes. I would have loved to tackle a list of challenges or play some mini-games or a multiplayer mode yet these kinds of extras are nowhere to be found.
Noitu Love: Devolution is a huge surprise and I can easily say that it's one of the few must-buy 2D action games of the year so far. Although it's a bit short, the amount of fun to be had makes it a Darn worthy download.
- + Fast-paced touch-based action gameplay that's as intuitive as it is enjoyable
- + Great retro visuals and music
- + Many wacky scenarios keep things fresh
- - Campaign is quite short
- - Could use some additional modes
- - Dialogue sequences are a bit flat