Some may remember Little Noah, as it comes from the real-time base-building mobile game of the same name (or known by its more generic western title Battle Champs). The mobile game title had been discontinued in 2019, leaving behind the remarkable world and characters designed by the beloved artist Akihiko Yoshida, recognized for his works on various Square Enix titles such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Bravely Default.
It came as a surprise that the company behind the game, Cygames shadow dropped Little Noah: Scion of Paradise at the Nintendo Direct Mini Partner Showcase this June with a rush release this month. As the revival of the previously defunct title, the company has collaborated with Grounding on development to make their new foray into the roguelite genre.
Little Noah: Scion of Paradise takes players on a dungeon-crawling journey as Noah, a self-proclaimed alchemist, crashes her airship onto a mysterious floating ruin. In need of repairs for her ship and driven by curiosity, she enters the ruins ready to take on foes armed with her powers to call upon magical creatures called Lilliputs. Join Noah as she ventures deep into the ancient ruins happening upon treasures, an amnesiac cat, and unraveling the mysteries that lie within the ruins.
▍2D Roguelite Dungeon Crawling with Easy-to-Handle Actions
Though Noah may be little, she definitely has a spring in her step. She can double jump and air dash off the get-go and can gain access to a near-instantaneous, omni-directional dash attack via unlocks later in the game. The controls are tight and snappy, allowing for technical maneuvers like short hops and dodge offsets to better chain combos in a fight. Some rooms in the ruins even act as platform challenges to see if you can get through gauntlets of spikes and traps to get to a treasure chest!
As a unique part of the combat, Noah relies mostly on summoning Lilliputs to take on her enemies. After leaping off your airship into the ruins, you are given three Lilliputs in the form of Ratty, Huey, and Thump. The first two perform a small but quick slash in front of Noah, whereas Thump does a huge swing forward that knocks away smaller enemies, essentially starting you off with a basic melee combo.
The fun of Little Noah: Scion of Paradise begins in the pause menu screen, where you get to mix and match the order in which the Lilliputs are sent out to do an attack, effectively allowing you to customize your combo string to find the best way to juggle your foes à la Valkyrie Profile. Along with the Lilliputs mapped to your Y button attack string, you can set two (one by default) Lilliputs to the A and X buttons to use a more powerful attack skill with a cooldown as an effective combo ender. There are 40+ Lilliputs present in the game so experiment and concoct your own formula of destruction!
Oh, and don’t be afraid to pick up duplicates of Lilliputs, since not only do you get more casts of their attacks to throw into your combo, but you also gain strong passive buffs when three of them are present in your inventory.
▍Lay Waste to Your enemies in Style with an Avatar Burst!
Upon building up her meter, Noah can activate Avatar Burst. More or less acting as her limit break, Noah performs a massive AOE attack that can wipe out entire hordes of enemies all the while being invulnerable herself. Turn the tables on a group of enemies, or even use it in a pinch to get off some extra I-frames to survive a boss’s deadly swing.
In Little Noah: Scion of Paradise, monster lairs act as a combat challenge of sorts, whereupon activating the keystone at the center of the room, you’re in for some trouble. Throwing at you are buffed-up enemies that have a higher attack, HP values, and hyper armor. Not only are they deadlier, but the fact that they can’t be easily juggled can cause unexpected hits as they power through what would have been combos. But this difficult challenge will reward you with a high-tier treasure chest at the end!
In true roguelite fashion, defeat sends you back to the start and all pickups are lost. But like any other game in the genre, ending a run still allows you to reap rewards to improve your odds on the next attempt, and is where the base building mechanics make a return from the original game.
Upon returning to her airship, all of the accessories and Lilliputs Noah collected during her journey are turned into mana. This is then used as currency to rebuild Noah’s wrecked ships’ facilities. Repairs are set up in a skill tree structure with each granting new abilities such as recovering quickly out of a knockback or the ability to use healing potions. Other upgrades give you stations to start off the run with an accessory, and another gives a head start on the amount of gold you start with. Whatever you pick, you’ll be making headway towards a better run-through meta-progression.
▍Teleport Noah to Anywhere You Want to Make Farming Easier
Venturing through the dungeon in Little Noah: Scion of Paradise, you will open treasure chests, get alchemy pots containing new Lilliputs, and visit shops that allow Noah to increase her overall power rating from D all the way up to SS. These come in the form of crystals that buff her attack prowess and accessories that give bonus effects to Noah’s abilities.
Navigating the ruins comes as a breeze as you can teleport Noah around anywhere on the current floor you’re in as long as combat isn’t happening. This completely rids the need for backtracking and allows you to quickly access points of interest like shops, gates to the next floor, and monster lairs. Appreciated as well are the icons placed on each room denoting any items inside. The map icons show just about anything that can be picked up, so it’s nice to know where you left that one herb on the floor after trudging through perilous combat.
The many floors within each zone are punctuated with a gate room that sends you off to two branching paths with each destination given certain properties to them. These tend to be things like more Lilliput drops or a discount at the store within the floor, so choosing which gate to go through can be the difference between two very different builds at the end.
▍Repair Noah’s Airship to Unlock New Abilities
Back on Noah’s Airship, you can change her attire by switching between different Avatars. These alternate clothes are unlocked via special conditions, and other than changing up her fashion, it also gives Noah bonuses that empower certain parts of a Lilliput combo, and grant passive boosts such as elemental resistance. The aforementioned Avatar Burst is also determined by what Noah wears and changes the element status effect.
▍Little Noah: Scion of Paradise – The Verdict
Little Noah: Scion of Paradise is a game best described as a casual roguelite. The core mechanics are tight but leave wiggle room for customization, and lays out all of its mechanics in the tutorial bit by bit and goes even so far as to give visual hints of what’s in the next room through its map screen. Going into the Lilliput menus, each different critters’ movesets for both attacks and skills are explained together with images.
All this to say, some of the hand-holdy parts, as well as the game’s simplistic approach to roguelite action may leave more hardcore genre fans wanting more. RNG mechanics make building a certain element or Lilliput archetype difficult solely because there’s so much you as the player can do to increase your odds of getting what you want. The one and only random event that can occur during a run are a Rascal Alert, in which a nimble enemy holding a bag of gold zips around the map for several seconds where players have a chance to take down Rascal with his loot for extra gold before he takes off.
After several runs, it also becomes fairly obvious what items and Lilliputs are the best, so the weaker accessories and Lilliputs that show up in runs can feel relatively useless. Take for example the element damage reduction accessory. By the time hits become dangerous, the percentage at which these gears reduce damage becomes so insignificant that taking them almost feels like a waste, especially when they come out of treasure chests.
Simpler rogue-lite mechanics with a heavier emphasis on action do indeed mean a more light-hearted experience in general, where nothing too out of the ordinary is presented. Especially stage design-wise, where most of the stages can feel samey with the odd optional challenges presenting different traps spread across the map.
Even with some gripes here and there, personally having beaten the game once on normal difficulty, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time tackling the ruins, discovering different Lilliput combinations on the fly, and unlocking new facilities as well as avatars back on the airship.
The fast-paced slash and dash-styled combat along with the robust combo customization really is the cherry on top, as it goes a long way in making the difference between Little Noah: Scion of Paradise and any other run-of-the-mill roguelite in the market. The combat feels that good when it gets going.
After reaching the ending, I started up a new save file on the hard difficulty to see how it is, and the damage scaling on the enemies as well as the HP they have, made the game more of an adequate challenge, at least for me.
The game is expecting two content updates in August and September, where new accessories, Lilliputs, and avatars will be added to the game as DLC. The developers have also hinted at the possibility of adding speedrunning elements to the game and have also confirmed that the first update will contain a new HELL mode where Noah goes down in a single hit.
With the game in its early state with not a lot to do after hitting those credits, I personally welcome the addition of endgame content and would definitely go back in for more runs.
While staying fairly light on the rogue aspects, Little Noah: Scion of Paradise delivers a dungeon-crawling experience, ideal for both beginners looking for a casual introduction to the genre, as well as veterans seeking a more action-orientated exploration. Progress is permanent and always keeps the momentum of progress flowing, with each run being enhanced after the other. Combat is diverse and the combo builder allows players to get creative with their combat options further varying up each attempt.
I give Little Noah: Scion of Paradise a 4/5 in anticipation for the upcoming DLCs and in excitement at what Cygames has to offer next in their line of single-player experiences.
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Little Noah: Scion of Paradise