For those that remember the Trine series, you’ll be pleased to hear that developer Frozenbyte have now released Nine Parchments. An Action/RPG filled to the brim with detailed and colourful environments in which to explore and monsters to defeat. Not only this, but it plays as a twin stick shooter, and has cooperative play for up to 4 players. Sounds like fun right?
Nine Parchments starts off with you, in control of either Cornelius or Gislan, as a duo in a group of apprentice wizards on a quest to return the nine missing parchments that have been scattered throughout the land after a massive explosion. From the moment you assume control of your chosen character, the first you should well notice like I did, is the attention to detail within the castle walls. It’s not a bland design, devoid of interior decor, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. The art team over at Frozenbyte deserve recognition for the amount of detail that can be found in all corners of the castle, and it doesn’t end there. Once you begin the game proper though, that’s when the real visual feast begins. The colours mixed in with the finer details have in turn created a stunning environment for each and every level that follows. The diversity is also worth noting for the fact that there’s plenty to see and become distracted by. In fact, I could probably write a review just on the visuals alone.
The combat is twin stick shooting with magic, and some minor RPG mechanics included, whereby you earn XP to level up and select from a few skills in your skill tree. Find new staffs and hats for your wizard to wear. We all love unlocks don’t we? There are a grand total of 9 characters which leaves you 7 to unlock and then a total of 4 costume variations. How is this done? Well there’s certain criteria for you to meet before being awarded a new character to play as. This will give plenty of replay value, but if you want to replay a specific level, then guess what? You’ll need to replay the entire game up until that point if there’s a certain quest you’ve missed. In the era of having a level select, it has become odd to have to replay a game from scratch, and it’s a feature that many gamers, myself included would love to have seen implemented.
Nine Parchments has been designed with cooperative play in mind, and as such, playing solo is quite tough occasionally, with enemies quick to overpower and smoother you. Earning XP and increasing the skill powers will help increase your attack, but as I found out many a time, my defence was never good enough when swarmed. Not impossible, but frustrating watching your health get ripped away suddenly if you’re not quick enough in moving out of the way.
The voice acting while sparse is actually of a high quality, and even the soundtrack and sound effects perform well to accompany the frantic gameplay when it arrives. Each level has set areas where enemies will spawn which see you held in an area to fight them off until they’re dealt with. Rather than a more fluid motion where they are found randomly across the level. On the plus side, some levels are home to hidden side quests that offer greater rewards than you’d usually find within the game. So it does pay to search high and low.
If the easiest difficulty is giving you a hard time, then prepare yourself for what can only be described as hell in video game format. Hardcore difficulty certainly lives up to it’s name, and will more than likely require a full team of 4 to overcome the odds, unless of course you’re just that insane and talented. Probably the former, and most definitely the latter.
Nine Parchments is a work of art, and if I was to score the game based off the visuals alone, it would be a perfect ten all day long. There’s really not that much to bring the game down on its final score, and I would highly recommend it, especially to those who have a dedicated gaming group to play with, as it’s been designed with that in mind. It’s enhanced for the Xbox One X, but as I don’t own that console, I’m unable to comment on how good it looks. Is it worth that price? Yes. Look at how beautiful it is, and I’m sure you’ll agree that in the end it justifies the price. The gameplay ain’t half bad either.
Overall Score 8/10
Release Date: 7th March 2018
File Size: 3.17GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch & Steam
Xbox One X Enhanced title