Starting out life as a free adventure game developed by Kanawo in 2016, Noel the Mortal Fate has since expanded and branched out into manga. Due to the series’ success in Japan, the game became available worldwide and was translated into English bit by bit. After spending time on PC and recently other platforms, the Xbox adaptation is finally here with seven seasons of Noel’s life story ready to delve into. Is Noel the Mortal Fate destined for greatness, or is it ultimately set for a disappointing fate?
Noel the Mortal Fate follows the life of 15 year old Noel Cerquetti; a rich girl who puts her heart and soul into practising piano relentlessly, in order to become the prestigious ceremonial pianist. Despite being the best by far, she loses out to a friend and rival, which causes resentment and anger. Fuelled by these emotions and coerced by Mayor Burrows who convinces her it was rigged, she does the unthinkable to ensure victory in the next competition. Noel makes a deal with a devil, but pays the ultimate price for the request as the devil slices off her limbs in return.
That really sounds like the end of Noel’s journey, however this is actually where the quest for revenge begins. Teaming up with the devil, Caron, the goal is to bring about the demise of the Mayor, which unearths the lengths he went to in order to reach the position of power and the despicable things he’ll do to retain it. It won’t be easy though, as the Mayor has garnered a fair few useful allies along the way.
The narrative is the strongest part of Noel the Mortal Fate, for it cranks up the gears early on and seldom slows down throughout the seven main seasons included. As each season comes to a close, there always seems to be a plot point that draws you back in for more. Going from a piano competition to having dealings with a devil is a great initial hook, because the tone is then set quite dark. I’m talking murder, corruption and demons levels of dark, but it’s all that which helps the little bits of humour shine even brighter.
It’s interesting to see the characters develop at a nice pace throughout, with nobody of note missing out on a backstory. You’ll understand the mindset of the Mayor, how he acquired numerous demonic minions, what made them become demons, why Caron decides to help Noel seek revenge, and so much more as everything unfolds via the text-based dialogue with a clear purpose.
In terms of design, the portraits shown while a character talks are excellent and you could imagine them in an anime series. My favourite is Caron, for he resembles Fumikage from My Hero Academia, with the head of a black bird. There’s clearly been an effort to create distinguished visuals for the supporting characters and it enables them to catch your eye immediately upon their introduction. That said, unfortunately the in-game assets look very dated. The environments are especially basic, with an abundance of relatively bland underground locations and building interiors.
So, you’re probably thinking that Noel the Mortal Fate is some kind of visual novel. Fear not, because there’s gameplay too. Depending on the situation at hand, you’ll control either Noel or Caron from an isometric view. These sections involve either exploration, puzzles, or combat. The exploration just consists of interacting with various objects within an environment in the hopes of finding a useful item, such as keys and ointments. It’s the puzzling side where proceedings are more varied.
Much like the old Sokoban puzzles, pushing boxes will become a new pastime as you make routes for the Noel, whose mobility is a bit limited. Stealth sections are prevalent also, in which you have to avoid alerting the attention of drones or other enemy figures. One of the most difficult activity types however, is the timing of movements to avoid hazards affecting the environment. While they have clear patterns to learn, the movement system is extra sensitive and imprecise. And that can be an issue during combat.
Combat itself isn’t the most expansive setup in the first place as it simply consists of walking into people, which auto-initiates an attack. If a guard is making their way towards Noel, you must manoeuvre Caron to prevent them from attacking her. Accurately navigating the character is hard when the slightest push of the thumbstick moves them two steps. It’s a slight pain.
Now, imagine having to take on a boss unleashing AoE manoeuvres for you to avoid, before swiftly launching your own attack during a small window of respite. It’s an unnecessary annoyance to overcome and – due to the boss battles otherwise being a lot of fun – a bit of a shame. As a result of the demonic powers these bosses possess, you can expect the experience to be explosive, electric and sometimes very cutting.
Given how there are over ten hours of gameplay across seven seasons and the bonus chapter, it doesn’t feel that long at all. That’s possibly down to the delivery of the adventure, which is broken into small chunks. Each chunk of gameplay may take less than ten minutes, and then it’ll encourage saving the game before moving on. This method means it’s very easy to digest what’s going on as well as lending itself to picking up for short sessions.
Noel the Mortal Fate is very much an adventure that thrives in the narrative department, with major and minor arcs which will keep your interest through to the end of the seventh season. While it does alright at delivering a varied experience in regards to the boss battles and gameplay in general, the basic combat and the movement issues let it down. Sadly, the overall aesthetic is looking a bit tattered as well, which is in stark contrast to the awesome character portraits.
Picking up Noel the Mortal Fate is dependent upon your love for storytelling, because that’s the real draw here. The rest is just an average accompaniment.
Noel the Mortal Fate is available via the Xbox Store