Noita didn’t make an excellent impression. I didn’t understand where to go, what to do and within 5 minutes, I was dead. Maybe it was 2 minutes, I do not understand. I’ve lost count. I’ve passed away numerous times.

I desired assistance. I desired the pixely wizard video game I’d seen in trailers, to run around and blow whatever up with spells. I didn’t wish to be edging around in a dark cavern, frightened of whatever. I didn’t wish to be consumed, shot, exploded, melted, eliminated. It was impenetrable, hostile, unjust, and I wished to quit.

But I didn’t. I looked once again at what I had. I willed Noita to open and slowly, it did. It went a bit like this.

Did well that turn! Found an elegant brand-new wand, discovered a brand-new spell. Felt great about my possibilities up until a polymorph surface area altered me into an unusual cannon fodder that shot radiant blobs. Thought it may be health up until I went to select it up. It was a mine. Dead. Time: 4 minutes.

New Game. Very pleasing burning things. Shooting the lanterns onto wood or coal or oil, and enjoying the fire holler and spread: stunning. Found a really elegant brand-new wand. Picked it up and the entire space blew up in a cloud of toxin. I melted. Time: 3 minutes.

New Game. Mist outside the cavern this time. Like the anticipation of a freshly created level. Enjoying enjoyable blowing things up. Blew a hole in a substantial tank of water and saw it waterfall down into the cavern, surges sounding in the darkness. Never gets old. Found a freeze wand. Then shot an opponent near a bomb. Time: 3 minutes.

New Game. Close scrape entering into the Holy Mountain. Nearly passed away. But exercised how to modify a wand! Didn’t understand they worked like that. Picked a spider-leg perk! Now have legs coming out of me that defend me. Found a brand-new location too however wow it is difficult. New opponents. Time: 22 minutes. An excellent one.

New Game. Dead. Not worth speaking about. Time: 9 minutes.

New Game. Found a sweet fireball wand and checked out the Holy Mountain two times! Got fire resistance perk! Found more brand-new locations and opponents. Ouch ouch ouch. Time: 20 minutes.

New Game. Visited 4 locations this time! Got an Extra Life perk! Got Vampirism so I can recover by drinking swimming pools of blood! Got a sweet spinning circular saw-blade wand! Damnit, dead. Time: 11 minutes.

I’ll extra you the rest, it gets a bit sweary anyhow. Suffice to state: I pass away a lot. But I improve and I do much better, that’s the crucial point. Every run, I figure something else out. I exercise how an opponent battles, for instance, or I get a bit additional in determining wands. They’re secret. They’re indecipherable to start with, and you’ll discover brand-new ones and Noita will ask if you wish to switch them, and you’ll resemble, um, I do not understand?

My finest run and all a total mishap. May I provide to you: Teleportitis. Keep enjoying and you’ll see what I indicate. Utter insanity! I’ve snipped the ending for spoiler factors, oh and excuse the brief menu time out two-thirds in, I needed to respond to the door.

But those gibberish data will begin to make good sense, I guarantee, and you’ll familiarize what the spells packed in the wands do. And when you do, and when you modify the wands your method, switching the spells in them, altering the enthusiasts, that’s when it starts to click. That’s when you begin crafting wands a bit like how you would weapons in other video games. Think of them that way. I’ve had some fantastic machine-gun wands and a few close-range shotgun types. And I’ve had some very bizarre wands with spells I don’t quite understand yet too. The list of spells I can load them with seems endless.

None of this is to say I’ve enjoyed a smooth upward curve of success ever since the beginning, because I haven’t. Noita kills me as unceremoniously now as it did before, and in between every exciting 20-minute run there’s a few three-minute runs where I get nowhere. It’s unpredictable. Noita doesn’t adhere to any kind of pattern, not really. All you can be certain of is it gets harder the deeper you go. Otherwise, its procedurally thrown-together tinder box of ingredients – of fire and poison and explosives – can go up in any number of ways at any moment, either through your doing or an enemy’s, or just by happenstance. It’s wonderful to watch and perilous to play.

But persevering against the odds is the point of Noita. Those many deaths become battle scars on a hard road to victory. I haven’t played a game like it. I mean, I’ve played Roguelikes, quite a few this year actually, but none so apparently tightfisted. Noita doesn’t give anything away easily. There’s no XP system for unlocking new toys next time around, so each time, you begin completely afresh. There’s not even any indication what you’re trying to do in the game. I still don’t know. I figure I’m trying to get as far down as possible because I’m scored on that when I die, but I don’t know. Nor do I know what a ‘win’ might be. Do I have to kill something? Do I have to reach something? I don’t know, but there’s a score for it when I die.

Dying. (There are plenty more.)

Tightfisted might not be the right word, now I think about it, because by not giving anything away, Noita leaves everything – all possibilities – on the table. By not telling me what to do, it tells me I can do anything. By not telling me where to go, it tells me I can go anywhere. There might be a couple of more areas to see, there might be many. I do not know. I have no idea what Noita’s limits might be. And I find that tremendously interesting.

I don’t have to force myself to play anymore, I’m pulled back. I’m comfortable in its loop of trial and error. I have theories I want to try, combos I’m hoping to pull off. And I have an inkling now of what awaits. I glimpsed something after I picked the Teleportitis perk and went on the ride of my life. It made me teleport somewhere at random every time I took damage, and considering how often I took damage – not only from enemies however gradual burning and poisoning – I teleported an awful lot. I was totally out of control. It was all I could do to hang on, however I did, and in a blur of dives I glimpsed locations I’ve never ever been. It was utter mayhem. It was Noita.

You need to play it. If you attempt.