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Nine Parchments Review: Spellbinding

/ Jan 10th, 2018 No Comments

Nine Parchments Review

The balancing act between the single-player and co-op experiences is a major struggle in today’s gaming climate. Should there be more enemies on screen and increased difficulty when additional players are present? Is it smart to include puzzles or sections of gameplay where one person alone can’t continue forward without the help of another player?

Trying to balance this line, developers often fall flat. Developer Frozenbyte does not with Nine Parchments.

The developers crafted an experience that can be played alone or with friends, and each of those playthroughs have their own idiosyncrasies. While keeping the core mechanics the same in solo or co-op play, Nine Parchments successfully leverages different strategies to diversify its two gameplay modes.

Wizardy 101

An apprenticeship is important when trying to learn magic. While apprenticing is critical to any dangerous trade to learn proper precautions and skills, it also takes a long time and is hella boring. If only there was some shortcut to gaining those sweet spells and becoming a powerful mage.

For a group of impatient wizard apprentices, that shortcut presented itself when an attack on their academy spread powerful spells across the land. This was their opportunity to collect all nine parchments necessary to complete their spellbooks and become a full fledged wizard.

However, in order to collect the parchments they have to venture into dangerous territory and fight deadly monsters, all while trying to control powerful spells they haven’t quite fully mastered. What’s the harm in a little friendly fire between friends though, right?
 

Nine Parchments Review

Questing with friends has its benefits, but you’ll find plenty to love playing solo.

Nine Parchments tells a simple yet effective story. The premise of a couple of no-good wizard students looking for the lazy way to power is fun. It is a cool twist on the concept that results in a tongue-in-cheek sense of self-awareness.

The narrative also helps create a structure for the gameplay. You and your friends are constantly pushing forward to gain new spells not only to become a true wizard, but also to better deal with monsters and other dangers you face along the way.

While the story seems a little shallow at first, it gains depth as a larger complication presents itself and a sinister threat is revealed. Getting ahead without putting in the work is fine, but it can have dire consequences.

Spellcaster, Page Catcher

Nine Parchments is a game of multiple levels, and not “levels” in the classic video game sense. On one level, you can play it as a single-player game where you’re constantly making trade offs and concessions while trying to become a wizard. The other level is a multiplayer game where you form an alliance with other fledgling mages to try to triumph over adversity. Either way, it is a satisfying experience.

On its surface, it is a dungeon crawler with some light RPG elements and a magical focus, but it is quickly apparent the game is more than that. Nine Parchments has a twin-stick shooter feel with a strategic bent. There are a ton of items to unlock for character variations. The game melds all these different elements into a complex set of mechanics.
 

Nine Parchments Review

Playing with friends allows you to combine spells to create powerful magics.

When playing by yourself, you constantly need to feel out the environment, especially when you’re locked into an arena. As the screen fills with enemies, you will need to have good awareness of your space. In order to come out of most battles alive, you’ll have to dodge attacks without accidentally falling to your death.

While Nine Parchments is tough at times, it is always fair. Every level allows for one random resurrection — if all in a party should fall in co-op or if you fall in solo. Without partners, you better be damn sure you collect the right spells and know how to dodge.

Playing solo, Nine Parchments requires more strategy in terms of which spells to gain and how to approach combat scenarios. The game is played at a much slower pace if you’re playing solo.

Multiplayer changes the dynamic. There is still strategy involved, but there is more chaos and chances for you to get in each others’ way. You will have to find a way to stay in the arena with other players while also trying to avoid friendly fire. This means you’ll have to be more prudent and precise with your spells.
 

Nine Parchments Review

The boss fights make you feel like you’ve truly earned that new parchment.

It takes a lot trust to play with another mage, but there are benefits to playing together. Someone can take up the healer role to ensure the party doesn’t get easily wiped out, while other wizards can focus more on proficiency and mastery in specific elementals rather than having to be a jack of all trades.

Playing couch co-op is probably more advisable than playing online because online games can’t be rejoined once you’ve left. While you can continue that particular adventure from the last checkpoint with whatever progress you’ve made for your character, you’ll be riding solo from there. With your buds in your place, you can more easily set aside the time to take on the campaign.

Overall

Nine Parchments delivers an extremely fun experience that changes depending on whether you’re playing solo or with friends. The ability to create your own spellbook and utilize different elemental magic makes for an engaging gameplay experience. With a huge amount of unlockables, there is a lot of replay value in Nine Parchments.

Nine Parchments was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by the developer.
 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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NINE PARCHMENTS REVIEW: SPELLBINDING

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall86%

GAMEPLAY9

Whether playing solo or with friends, Nine Parchments’ gameplay draws you in with its depth and necessity for strategy and skill.

GRAPHICS8.5

Nine Parchments is an inventive world with great character design.

SOUND9

The score creates the feel of a grand adventure, and the voice acting helps add more personality to the game.

STORY8

It is a cool twist on the wizard/magic school premise with a good sense of humor.

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