Numina (Part 1) Review

Numina (Part 1) by developer and publisher Starlit StudioPC (Steam) review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes. 

Having taken a very first look at Starlit Studio's Numina back in 2017 through a Sunday Bites approach, the first part of this RPG is now available with Part 2 set to drop sometime in Q3. Taking a more serious tone, RPG and JRPG fans could find a decent amount to enjoy here as there’s a good balance between the tones of the story, the elements of gameplay, and the interactive-ness of the environments.

To start off, I found it rather interesting to read through something that I had written over five years ago in order to review it today. What changed? What stayed the same? It’s an interesting approach as the Sunday Bites format was never designed to really lead into a review format within a foreseeable release date. The format was to give small currently in development projects a chance to be highlighted outside of our typical publishing schedule as they weren’t at the same point as something that launched into Early Access for example. So with a bit of reminiscing done, let’s jump into it shall we?

Designed with RPG Maker XP, Numina is an interesting RPG adventure that puts you into the role of two people. On one hand, you’ll be in control of the protagonist Shawn who will move around the maps, initiate dialog with NPCs and run into enemies in order to launch combat. On the other hand, you’re also you.

Yes you, the person behind the computer screen.

You’re also a character who gets to choose their own name and interact specifically with Shawn as their guardian spirit and then others over the course of the journey, 'if' they can hear you. While something different, it was different in a good way as while "you" may think something is a good idea, other characters, Shawn included, may not. They may also love the idea which is great! It helps to build the bonds between everyone.

The world of Numina is an interesting one and the tale begins like any good JRPG. Much darker in tone, the beginning of Numina opens up with a prison break where the characters you follow are leaving corpses or blood spatters in their path as they try to escape. Making a clean cut away from this, you are introduced to Shawn, our protagonist, who wakes up, gets dressed and ready to bring his younger sister up to a place called The Temple of the Clouds with his close friend Raph(ael).

The shift in tone felt a bit startling until things caught back up, and while still early on, I won't spoil any details but it's heavy. This takes a lot in order to get right as oftentimes what a developer aims for and what they achieve can be made or broken in the dialog and the tone that it takes. While jokes can obviously be made, they fit the atmosphere in which the characters are trying to break the tension. This doesn't always work in their favor, or if it does, it does for a limited amount of time before the reality of the situation settles back in and it works really well against the overall approach.

To get to these points and further on the fairly lengthy adventure is a rich looking world with plenty to explore. Each area will have its own quirks and can take some time to walk or run through and if you've not sure where to go? Exploration is the name of the game and there's plenty to find whether in a cave, an enchanted forest or a sewer system under a major city. Some paths forward will be blocked by locked doors requiring keys while others need a series of switches to be hit in sequence to get the appropriate bridges moved into place.

What I found neat with these areas is that it's actually hard to miss points of interest. Showing up as shining or glimmering spots, these points could be usable items, equipment or even key items as not everything is hidden in treasure chests. Just because these points of interest are hard to miss, it doesn't always mean that they are easy to get to. Hidden paths, multiple grapple points, paths from one area of a map into another, it can take some time to get to them, but like any good RPG, it's always worth picking up everything to save your money for new equipment once you hit that new town.

Before getting to these new towns to spend your hard earned money, you'll first have to fight for it. Designed with all encounters showing on the map, you can choose just how many of these encounters you want to go through while adventuring. Low on potions? Maybe it'll be best to pass on by. Fully loaded? Need to level a bit as that last boss fight was tough? There are often plenty of encounters available and they will respawn once you've left the current area and come back in. What I liked is that Numina doesn't fall into the trap of having too many random encounters because of it. Just make sure to not take these roaming foes lightly as they will chase after you.

If you do decide to get into an encounter then make sure to have your fingers ready to hit the right prompts! Designed in the same vein as a few other RPGs across the decades, Numina requires a hands-on approach to battle and depending on the actions, what's required will change. Normal attacks with a sword for example will require you to hit the action button as the outer circle crosses the inner one. Charge attacks that do more damage require holding an arrow key until a meter fills up to the specific point. Ranged attacks will have a moving line that needs to line up with a set outline.

If you manage to get relatively within the sweet spot so to speak you'll do full damage to the enemy based off of character stats which is sometimes a grand total of zero. What can I say? Sometimes a more magical based character just doesn't do the same amount of damage with normal attacks. So it's a good thing that every character has special abilities, but, in a prevention of spamming them for "instant wins" you have to accumulate the points for them first.

This is perhaps the one area that I found didn't work as well as the rest. To perform special abilities you’ll need to accumulate TP by either attacking enemies or being attacked by enemies. The better the hit, the more TP that you'll accumulate, however, there are some enemies that you'll be accumulating next to none making your spell casters a bit useless as they can do zero damage and they have no TP to cast spells unless they are hit. This really makes your healer useless in certain battles as everyone is taking a hit but your healer can’t heal them meaning that they need to waste turns using healing items instead of being able to attack.


Overall though? From my first look at Numina through a Sunday Bites approach years ago, I would say that this adventure has been worth the wait and there’s still more to come with Numina Part 2 later this year. Well written dialog in a world that is nice to look at, the gameplay is just as fun and interactive keeping you in the immersion of this world both as the protagonist, and as yourself!

Score: 8 / 10



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