Developed by Frozenbyte Published by Frozenbyte Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro (also available on Steam, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One)
When in doubt, spell it out!
You know it’s weird. 2017 was a CRAZY year for gaming. I was honestly not expecting a spell based, co-op adventure to start the year off. But new years have a weird way of presenting new opportunities…like Nine Parchments from FrozenByte! It’s a colorful, delightful romp involving young wizards trying to recover ancient spell parchments while becoming full-fledged wizards along the way!
During the end of a year in a world where all seasons exist simultaneously within all kinds of different climates, a wizarding school has an accident; this incident scattered the oldest documents in the school’s history and the secrets that unlock their potential. With the parchments literally scattered to the wind, the students set out to recover them and earn their place as true wizards. The story isn’t especially deep beyond that. There’s plenty of character interactions, but they don’t really get too in-depth. The characters are not only distinct in design, but they also learn different spells. Now add seven character types with four variations for each and you have a LOT of variety. The amount of spells and the character combos really give you a lot to work with and it’s fun blowing stuff up with so much style.
The game plays like a twin stick shooter where you’ll be switching between your spells, lining up you bolts, beams, bombs, and, my personal favorite, the Tiki God. While using all these powers can be a fun experience, you have to be careful because the powers you unleash can back fire on you. Or if you’re like my Kiyo D and I, also unleash spells on each other. In co-op mode players can drop in and out easily…maybe too easily as I accidentally dropped out of the game by mistake a couple times because of using the touch pad to join. Nine Parchments also has a fun and easy to use leveling up system. Be careful, though: if you choose to start a different campaign you can lose your progress, so make sure you complete your run before you start a new one up. Hopefully a future patch will enable players to have more than one active game at once.
The journey brings you through a host of beautifully made locales such as lush jungles, frozen tundras, and beautiful beaches along with some nice temples, too. Each place has an equally unique boss that will definitely keep you on your toes. In all honesty, it’s just a good time. Especially when you and your party start to earn skills and operate like an efficient spell casting machine. The scaling difficulty level feel nicely layered while your max level cap is determined by the difficulty level. If still feels fair even in the harder difficulties. Word to the wise: choose a wide variety of spell between the elements because there will be times where enemies’ elemental immunities that can only be overcome through use of multiple elements
Now while the game is fun and plays really well, there is something I must give some serious credit to: the art direction and music composition. The locales are beautiful and I never got tired of looking at the scenery. More often than not the levels are layered with at least two or three floors where the vista views are great. My favorite levels by far are the garden and the frozen tundra. The use of colors in the former improve the atmosphere and looks great running on a 4K monitor. The latter has incredible vistas and made me feel like I needed to turn the thermometer up at home. The musical score, which accentuates the gorgeous scenery, always managed to keep us calm even when we were down to one player with nearly no health left. I may buy the OST to use to help me relax, honestly.
Regarding the other console versions, the Switch version runs at 1080p at 30 FPS while the XBox One X version utilizes a true 4K visual display at 60 FPS. We had a chance to also play the Switch version, which runs impressively well aside from some minor slowdown and sound distortion when the action gets heavy. Regardless of which console you choose, Nine Parchments runs well and looks fantastic.
Nine Parchments is a very fun game. If you need something a little less hardcore, a little more colorful, and something that has great couch co-op then this is the one!