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Preview: Little Witch Nobeta Brings the Soulslike Atmosphere

Little Witch Nobeta Preview

When I hear about a game called Little Witch Nobeta, I don’t think of a Soulslike. When I see a cute anime-style character like the titular protagonist, I don’t think of a 3D action shooter. But Little Witch Nobeta is very much both of those things, and it does a good job of it.

As Nobeta, players make their way through an ancient castle where the little witch hopes to learn about where she’s from. On the journey, there are countless enemies to fight and secrets to discover, durin which Nobeta makes full use of her staff. Her main form of attack is her magic, and there are several types to learn. On top of having a standard attack that varies slightly between magic types, each magic also has a chanted spell that, in addition to being extremely powerful, attacks in a unique way and even provides Nobeta with an effect useful for puzzle solving. The differences in each magic’s use makes switching between them necessary, but in a way that feels natural.

Little Witch Nobeta Preview Spell

Nobeta also has a physical attack by way of swinging her staff. It’s definitely a secondary attack used mainly when your MP bar is low and you can’t use magic, but it helps recover Nobeta’s mana on hit, which can be hugely helpful. While the added utility doesn’t come close to making it a viable alternative to using spells, it does make it feel useful. The extra mana regeneration helps tie the attack into the overall combat system instead of leaving it feeling like an afterthought.

Another way to restore mana is by dodging. Not only does dodging do exactly what you’d expect in stopping you from taking damage, but it also has the same mana restoration benefit as a physical attack. One thing to be careful of with physical attacks and dodges, though, is that they cost stamina. Should Nobeta run out of stamina, she’ll fall down, leaving her completely vulnerable to enemy attacks. Being so open to taking damage is very detrimental, of course, so even if you’re dangerously low on mana, keeping an eye on your stamina bar is a must. This sort of interconnected gauge management makes for a very fluid, cohesive battle system that really shines during boss fights, and it’s just what you’d want from a soulslike.

Little Witch Nobeta Preview Boss

Little Witch Nobeta isn’t without its issues, though. In the first hours os so, combat has been a bit lackluster outside of boss fights, with standard enemies tending to feel like they’re on the weaker side. I don’t have to spend a ton of time fighting them, so unless there’s a horde coming after me, I don’t get to make full use of the game’s otherwise fun combat system. In cases like that, battles definitely feel on the duller side.

Exploration in Little Witch Nobeta is also a bit underwhelming during the early parts of the game. There is some exploration to be had, but up to this point, things have mostly felt fairly linear. It’s not quite what I’d want or expect from a game with a large number of collectibles. Of course, there is the possibility that the world opens up a bit more as you progress, and that would definitely be a big plus.

All in all, Little Witch Nobeta opens on a strong note. When the combat shines, it shines bright, and the mechanics feel very complementary throughout. If the world were a little more open and non-boss fights made a little better use of the battle system, this game would really be a standout, and honestly, it still can be. The later sections have the potential to make an already pleasant experience that much better.

Little Witch Nobeta releases for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on March 9, 2023. It is available now for PC via Steam.

Adam Haffen
Adam is a writer and editor who's been working with words for more than five years now. He started playing video games when he was six years old and is a huge action-adventure fan. True to form, he has an endless backlog of books and games that he swears he'll get to one day.