NOEL The Mortal Fate Review: Deal with the Devil
All Noel wanted was to win her city’s esteemed piano competition — after all, she hails from a long line of extremely talented concert pianists, so as far as anyone could tell, first place was all but assured…
…until a last minute change-up was announced, and Noel came second to her friend, Jillian. Blinded by a jealous rage, Noel fled the concert hall to regain her composure outside, only to be met by the city’s beloved mayor with a tantalizing proposition for her: meet him in the abandoned warehouse late at night to learn more about the competition’s shady judgement calls. Driven by ego and ambition, Noel made her way to the meeting spot, only to be tricked into a deal with the devil, Caron — the life of an unsuspecting CEO in exchange for her limbs. Of course, the opposite was also true: the devil was tricked into a deal with an unsuspecting mortal, the heavy price she paid weighing heavily on his mind. Forming an unlikely union, Noel and Caron teamed up to take down the mayor, getting their vengeance while attempting to undo the original contract in the process.
So begins NOEL The Mortal Fate, an edge-of-your-seat visual novel featuring revenge, suffering, murder, and more. Originally a serialization in Game Magazine beginning in 2016, NOEL The Mortal Fate also saw “both a comic version and a novelization, selling over 310,000 copies and in 2019 was even made into a’ drama CD’ featuring a selection of famous voice actors.” Spanning 7 chapters and featuring bonus content with a new and improved English translation, NOEL The Mortal Fate is currently in the best state of its surprisingly long life and is absolutely a cult classic worth keeping an eye on.
As mentioned above, NOEL The Mortal Fate focuses around a young pianist with ambition to match her immense talent. The seemingly good-natured mayor takes advantage of her dreams by manipulating an important competition, rigging it so that she would lose. Why? To lure her into making a deal with the devil, claiming a rival CEO was to blame for the judgement call. Kill him, he goaded, and you will be hailed as the contest winner. Little did she know that by doing his bidding, Noel would lose all her limbs — not to mention nearly her life as well. Saved only by a technicality, Noel then decides to team up with the devil, Charon, to take her revenge against the mayor in a wild attempt to undo the contract, gain her limbs back, and keep those close to her safe.
First thing’s first — NOEL The Mortal Fate is already a 6 year old title, and it was made using RPG Maker. I say this because in some ways, it’s definitely starting to show its age. When it comes to the text boxes and character art, I think this is some of the most high quality work I’ve seen in an RPG Maker game; however, the generic gameplay mechanics and character movements are sometimes inconsistent and seem at odds with the rest of the higher quality assets. For example, Caron, the devil, will be helping an armless Noel hop from rooftop to rooftop automatically, only for him to arbitrarily put her down so you can solve one simple puzzle. Movement is slow-going, and combat is, initially, very strange and unfun. All elements thrown together were weirdly juxtaposed to each other at times, but if you’re a bigger fan of story-telling over graphics, this nail-biter is definitely worth your time.
In fact, it’s the story that wins out over everything in NOEL The Mortal Fate. Right from the beginning, players are dumped into an interesting world where a piano competition is incredibly important for cultural reasons, and not only are devils real, dealing with them is straight up outlawed. A seemingly angelic mayor is uncovered to have forced unwitting scapegoats into making contracts with devils for him so that he may benefit, and any who stand in his way will suffer the consequences. There are socioeconomic factors at play that Noel comes face to face with, terrorist bombings, kidnappings, allies, and more. I really don’t want to give much more away, but I can’t help but gush because the story just sucks you in right from the very beginning with its interesting setting and brisk pacing. NOEL The Mortal Fate’s story was so good, it really didn’t need any of the extra mechanics at all!
NOEL The Mortal Fate tries to do a lot all at once, and for the most part, it succeeds. It’s a seriously scintillating visual novel with interesting gameplay mechanics that really pushed the limits of what RPG Maker could do. Unfortunately, some of those gameplay mechanics handled strangely at times, but that can mostly be forgiven considering the gripping story that unfolds on-screen. If you’re a visual novel fan and want to curl up with a good story on your Switch, NOEL The Mortal Fate is a deal you don’t want to pass up.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PS4, PS5, XBox One, XBox Series X|S, PC, Switch (Reviewed); Publisher: PLAYISM; Developer: Vaka Game Magazine, KANAWO; Players: 1; Released: February 10, 2022; MSRP: $24.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of NOEL The Mortal Fate provided by the publisher.