Game Review: Nine Parchments (Switch)

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Nine Parchments got announced a few months ago, and I couldn’t wait: it looked like a mixture of twin-stick shooters and Diablo! If that’s not a killer combo, then I don’t know what is. Did the game capitalize on the potential it had on parchment? (ha!). Or did it cast it away? (I’ll stop with the puns now… maybe).

There certainly is a lot to like about Nine Parchments. First and foremost, the presentation is outstanding. Games have come a long way in terms of graphic fidelity and realism, leaving ethereal beauty a little bit by the wayside. Not so with Nine Parchments, which looks like it was drawn frame by frame. It really is a beautiful game to behold, colorful and exciting to look at without being crass.

It also runs like dream! And this one can be a sensitive issue with some Switch releases. The hardware is not as powerful as other home consoles, and some ports have not been optimized fully, seeing framedrops here and there. None of that here, thanks: the game runs buttery smooth both in handheld mode and docked. I personally did not notice any slowdowns, even in areas with a lot of enemies.

The game does not lack in presentation, with stunning visuals and amazing voice acting.

Let’s talk a bit about the gameplay, though: That description of it being a mix of twin-stick shooter and Diablo is actually pretty accurate: you play as wizard apprentices who skip on school and go around the gorgeous wold collecting weapons, powerups and more importantly, parchments. These parchments contain magical secrets and they were blown away and scattered throughout the world.

I usually tackle the story first in my reviews, and there’s a reason why I deviated from the norm with Nine Parchments: the story really doesn’t do the presentation justice. It’s there to support the action and move things along, but you won’t find any groundbreaking storytelling here. Which is a shame, as it would have enhanced the overall experience manyfold.

The thin story would have been much more easily forgiven if the game had inherited the lootfest addiction from its Diablo heritage. Sadly, it didn’t: the loot is very minimal, and even though the effects are marked, there’s very little incentive to keep pushing and find more and more and more loot. The world isn’t that open either, and despite looking beautiful, its linearity can become a hindrance.

It seems like I’m having a massive downer on the game, but really, I liked it a lot more than other reviewers. I think they went in with unfair expectations and didn’t appreciate the game for what it is. The presentation, which includes some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a long time, as well as beautiful, colorful graphics, is enough reason on its own to play through the main story at least once, and enjoy it.

The game, while good as a solo experience, is best experienced as a coop affair.

There’s also the fact that the game has now been patched so that you can have multiple runs at the same time: single player and multiplayer. You see, this magical excursion can be a group affair, and the game does come much more alive when played with friends, not least because of the fact that friendly fire cannot be turned off. So, beware, as you might cook your friends in the process.

Add to this that enemies are elemental (think Pokemon types), allowing you to be super strong against one type of monster, while other types are immune to your attacks. This can make a solo run quite difficult, particularly later on in the game, but it’s not impossible to have a balanced wizard and conquer the game from start to finish on your own. The game is, however, obviously meant to be played coop.

Nine Parchments is a great game, with great graphics & voice acting. There is wasted potential in the gameplay, but overall, it is a very enjoyable affair.

The best part? There’s a demo on the eShop, so you don’t have to take my word for it. 

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