Nine Parchments for Nintendo Switch is an action RPG blast ’em up game of magic mayhem from developer Frozenbyte. They are the team behind the Trine series and you can certainly see the similarities here, more recently they also released Has-Been Heroes on the Switch which is definitely worth a look.
The story is centred around a small group of apprentice wizards who seize the opportunity to complete their spellbooks by going after the legendary Nine Parchments. As the would-be wizards rapidly acquire powerful new spells, without learning proper safety measures, it’s natural their hasty progress results in plenty of deadly accidents. Its a mix of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings selling the grandest of adventures on a minimalistic foundation. The game combines real-time spell-shooting action with RPG elements – level up your character and collect magical loot, filling your wardrobe with a myriad of wizard hats and powerful staves.
Each of the eight playable characters on offer start with three basic spells, progressing through the game expands this to a total of nine all with different abilities. Using the elements is key to success as each enemy has a set weakness opposite to their own strength. I quickly got the hang of switching between my newly acquired powers depending on the situation, some spells offer beam like attacks whilst others are more like bombs that focus on a specific area. The melee attacks are generally the least effective form of offence as it pays to keep enemies at distance.
Since there is a big focus on multiplayer it is nice to see support for single Joy-con play allowing two people to join in without the need for addition controllers. The lack of a second analogue stick does slightly hamper this method but it’s something to expect when using this system. Playing the game co-op is advantageous, it can be a big help later in the game when battling a difficult boss and the option to resurrect a fallen friend is always welcomed.
The game looks absolutely stunning in most places with a vibrant use of colour to enrich the Trine world created by the dev team. The character models and animation are great helping bring the world they inhabit to life. Level design is fairly standard across the game following the usual dungeon crawler format. Start at one end of the level, battle a host of strange creatures and mighty bosses to reach the end goal. Finding loot crates acts as an XP boosting mechanism with a few other collectables in the way of hats and staves but that’s about all will you find here. It detracts slightly from wanting to go back through the game in an attempt to find all of the extras. There are a number of side quests to complete but again, disappointingly, these are not much more than a task of clearing set areas of creatures.
Thankfully the dev team has gone back to the game and addressed the biggest gripe around it’s save feature, originally only allowing one campaign save at any time. Meaning if four people started, four people needed to finish and the only other alternative was to start a fresh playthrough.
Frozenbyte have delivered a lot with Nine Parchments with a clear direction of what they wanted to achieve. For me the game is best played with friends, helping to defeat element specific enemies with easy but it does get manic at times as friendly fire is a cause of some frustration. Its RPG elements never become over complicated which helps make this game accessible for all. If you enjoyed the Trine series of games then this acts as an extension of that world.