I was thoroughly impressed by indie RPG Numina’s first part when I reviewed it for RPGFan in 2022. So I was eager to see whether Part II could capture the same charm and magic while closing out the tale of Shawn, his guardian spirit, and their friends. I ultimately uncovered a gaming experience that is more than the sum of its parts when I played through Numina’s final act, which culminates in an ending based on your numerous actions and choices beforehand. Numina Part II is not only as strong as the game’s first half but provides a powerful conclusion to an emotional saga.
In Numina, the world of Alterna is home to a mysterious energy source known as Life’s Breath. A governing religious faction called the Order of Ecclesia manages this energy, providing people with magic and several creature comforts they often take for granted. But as protagonist Shawn and his party of Arc, Raphael, Sarah, and Cassandra discover at the closing of Part I, Life’s Breath isn’t as benign or safely renewable as the populace believes. In truth, the Ecclesia knowingly sacrifices people for the sake of the many and to maintain a manufactured sense of peace. Together with the player, who exists in the game’s world as Shawn’s guardian spirit, will our heroes decide to rise and stop the Ecclesia’s machinations? Or will they side with the rebels combating the Ecclesia instead, despite their suspicions that this faction is also hiding something? Finally, can Alterna even truly function without Life’s Breath maintaining its status quo? Part II answers all these questions while considering player choices from Part I.
Numina Part II begins immediately after the first part’s potentially tragic final fight, with Shawn and the player pushing onward through a mysteriously dangerous realm after being separated from their friends. A recap of past events and narrative choices helpfully reminds you of previous occurrences and player actions from Part I, which is particularly useful if it’s been a while since you reached Part I’s cliffhanger ending. Part II’s beginning portion helps you become accustomed to the gameplay mechanics as Shawn converses with you while interacting with NPCs and navigating a puzzle-and-danger-laden dungeon. This section of Part II serves as a good reminder of how solid Numina’s gameplay component is, though a part of me was sad to say goodbye to the helpful rope tool from the first part.
Beyond no longer having the option to scale ledges with the rope, gameplay and controls remain untouched from the first half of Numina. The sheer volume of puzzles to overcome in dungeons is still impressive and has you thinking on your toes quite a bit. You can still unlock particular doors using a timed, matching puzzle. In one instance, Shawn has the brilliant idea to try sneaking the party undetected past guards by disguising everyone as barrels. In another instance, you must keep enemies from reaching Shawn by moving light beams to block their way while accessing an exit for him. In addition, certain characters provide you with optional side quests alongside the main storyline, such as finding a little girl’s pet mouse or delivering curry lunches to various people on an island.
Battles in Numina are traditional turn-based affairs with minor additions that make them more entertaining. Projectile attacks must line up before firing to have maximum effect, and the timing of sword strikes or blocks must be correct to be most effective. As you gain TP during battle, you can use special magic skills such as Sarah’s water spells or Arc’s extremely beneficial healing magic. Depending on how ample the rapport is between Shawn and a character and between you and said character, you can unleash even more powerful moves or devastating combo attacks like Shawn and Cassandra’s fiery sword and arrow move. Even unleashing regular attacks at their most lethal means paying attention to what you’re doing in combat. The maximum level for your party members is 20, and I found that in Part II almost all of my characters became maxed out by the time I reached the final boss fight.
The story and compelling party members at its center are the driving forces of Numina, and that hasn’t changed in the game’s final act. The concept of you, the player, taking on an active role in the story is creative and implemented well throughout the narrative. I never felt like I wasn’t part of the story in a unique way, and I love seeing how Shawn and the other characters reacted to my actions and remarks. Seeing how my and Shawn’s rapport with everyone improved or tragically didn’t based on my decisions could be either heartwarming or heartbreaking depending on the outcomes. I’m used to fourth-wall-breaking mechanics being played more for laughs or thrown into a game haphazardly, so I love the care and attention to detail put into making the player feel like they’re also a main character in the story. I felt so much for Shawn and the other party members in the game because I was right beside them.
The main character Shawn goes through so much throughout Numina’s story, and you can’t help but root for him as you help guide him along his chosen path. He has some truly standout moments throughout Part II. I adored the continued exploration of the romance I started between Shawn and Arc from the first part. Their relationship is written phenomenally and has many tender scenes. Arc is still coming to terms with choosing to go against the Ecclesia and believably dealing with the death of a close loved one. Sarah grows even more as a character as she learns about and comes to terms with her mysterious past. Finally, Cassandra remains a personal favorite of mine with her reactions and how straightforward she is about speaking her mind. Sadly, Raphael had a tragic outcome in my playthrough, but I appreciate how Numina never forgot how he is an essential character in the plot.
Beyond the clever fourth-wall-breaking mechanics and well-developed party members, Numina’s story is a significant draw. I greatly enjoyed how surprisingly dark and mature the commentary is in the game, and the moral ambiguity on all sides of the conflict is conveyed interestingly. Numina is a very choice-heavy narrative that reminds me a lot of a BioWare game in terms of its presentation. No decision is made lightly, and all have varying shades of gray. Choices from the first part carry over into the second to an impressive degree. For instance, whom Shawn romanced, whether you helped Sarah learn more about herself, or whether you spared Aziel after your last boss fight with him are all choices from Part I that have relevance in Part II. Likewise, several decision points in Part II, such as whether you initially choose to side with the rebels, affect how the story ultimately plays out. There’s even a “hold the line” situation in the final dungeon that severely impacts what occurs in the ending depending on how you choose to approach it. Numina’s plot constantly evolves based on your choices, and I like how that gives the game a tailor-made feel.
Graphically, Numina continues to be a gorgeous collection of backgrounds and sprite work. I’m very impressed by the visual effects and love how expressive the party member artwork is. If only other characters also had received the same treatment! You can even come across battle outfits that alter the colors of the party members’ battle sprites as a fun little addition. The UI is crisp and does the trick nicely, and sound effects are employed to significant effect throughout dungeons and story scenes. The music continues to be a strong selling point for the game, too, with a second soundtrack entitled Numina「ECHOES」being released in conjunction with Part II. You can hear sample tracks from it, such as “For the Cause,” “Lights in the Sky (Extended),” and “Last Day of Autumn.” I especially love the gorgeous vocal piece that serves as Part II’s theme song, aptly named “ECHOES.”
Regarding weaknesses, I didn’t come across the glitch I occasionally ran into in Part I where the game would crash on me during boss fights. So it’s safe to say that particular bug is no longer an issue! The English script is written more clearly this time, and I encountered only two errors. Given how text-heavy Numina is and how many script permutations there can be based on player choices, that’s pretty impressive. However, transitions from certain story scenes to other scenes can still be slightly off-putting and awkward sometimes. While I usually love navigating puzzles in Numina’s dungeons, even I admit Part II’s Sheol Desert overstayed its welcome. Otherwise, the second part of Numina is a solid experience that builds beautifully upon what came before.
Significant story DLC such as this often misses the mark. Still, I can understand why developer starlit studio felt they needed to take this approach with Parts I and II of Numina: to release the game quicker and polish up the various branching points that make up its conclusion. In that regard, Numina Part II is a beautiful essential addition. I’m glad it’s been bundled with Part I as part of a Deluxe Edition now, enabling players to pick up a solid game and reach its strong conclusion. Overall, Numina is a charming, clever RPG that made me think carefully about my decisions. I immensely enjoyed the over twenty hours I spent playing both parts of Numina, and my journey with Shawn and the others is one that I’ll think of fondly for quite some time.