The latest game from Frozenbyte, Nine Parchments is a visually stunning game that gives you free reign to explore the beauty and danger of a magical world. Released in December 2017 for both PC and Nintendo Switch, the creators of the Trine series have outdone themselves with this co-operative blast ‘em up.
You begin the game as a student wizard in beautiful tower, looking over a gorgeous night’s sky. You learn very quickly how easy it is to die in this game. If you take a moment to explore the observatory before rushing off to class, you could easily end up falling over the railing and plummeting to your death before you’ve done anything.
In just the walk from the observatory to your class, there is a lot going on. The detail that has gone into the design of every pixel on the screen is incredible. You could play the game through indefinitely and probably notice some new minute detail every time.
Books are scattered throughout the building, conveniently left open so you can hastily revise your magic skills on your way to class. They’re easy enough to pick up and, for Nintendo players, make decent use of the Switch’s unique controls.
The tutorial at the beginning of the game is quick and efficient, giving you everything you need to understand the controls in a matter of moments. It introduces you to the beauty of the world you’re about to explore, and also shows where you can find the collectible prizes and how to get hold of them.
In class, a terrible accident blows a hole in the wall and sends the pages of the spell-book you were supposed to learn from out into the furthest reaches of the world. You and your classmates then embark upon a mission to find them.
You begin with just three spells and basic equipment and develop new skills as you collect the missing parchments.
The game is difficult enough that it’s worth playing as a team, but is a fun challenge without being overly hard if you’re playing on your own.
The creatures you come up against are brilliantly designed, both visually and from a gameplay perspective. They each have their own strengths and weakness that make you think about strategy instead of just blasting your way through them all with your favourite spell.
Multi-player gaming adds another level to this still, by including the ability to hurt and heal your team and giving the various playable characters different base skills and spells.
All the elements for a good action RPG are in the all the right places for this game. The incredible graphics and design then push it above and beyond what you’d expect.
It’s the kind of PC game that is best appreciated on a genuinely high quality screen, so casual PC gamers might not get the full picture – though the picture they do get will still be pretty impressive. This makes it very appropriate for the Switch. It’s bound to look mind-blowing on a decent TV and even looks genuinely amazing on the handheld screen.
The characters move smoothly, with the kind of little touches that make you really believe in them, like the way their wizard cloaks swing as they run. The creatures you come across are realistic and magical at the same time.
The elements of the backgrounds that you might easily miss give the whole game a brilliantly immersive setting. Rainbows are reflected in the surface of the water and colourful fish swim realistically beneath. Plants of all kinds sway as you pass by, as if disturbed by your run. Even in the tutorial, a door that magically swings open to admit you to your class knocks over a stack of books that scatter across the floor.
It’s a wonderfully crafted world that is a lot of fun to explore.
Nine Parchments is available to buy now on both Steam and Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo eStore has a free demo you can download and play before purchasing the free game. For a limited time only, Nine Parchments is discounted on Steam and can also be bought as part of an even further discounted Trine world bundle.