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Nine Parchments (Xbox)

Developed by Frozenbyte, Nine Parchments is available now on PC (Steam) for £15.49, PS4 for £15.99 (currently on sale for £11.49), Nintendo Switch for £17.99 and Xbox One for £15.99. It is also an Xbox One X Enhanced title.

Nine Parchments is an action RPG game where a group of young, apprentice wizards have taken the opportunity to recover the nine lost parchments which will complete their own spellbooks. Without proper training, as the students learn these new spells, there are bound to be unfortunate mishaps and murders.

Nine Parchments is an absolutely stunning game. The levels are incredibly detailed made even more beautiful by the bursts of colour from the spells being cast. You can actually fall off the side of the map to your death which is something that takes some getting used to. The enemies are varied, unique and have been well designed especially with their differing elemental attacks (and immunities) which cause all kinds of mayhem. The game runs really smoothly and I haven’t experienced any framerate issues whatsoever.

The soundtrack to Nine Parchments is just as magical and I have very much enjoyed listening to it. I would say that it is in keeping with the game’s main theme with its twinkly, charming sounds. The music isn’t overpowering in any way and allows for the sound effects of enemies and spells to shine through in all of their glory. The voice acting is brilliant, believable and enhances the quality of the game.

The controls are quite simple to grasp and are responsive. I do have one issue with the controls, specifically regarding the dash move. You use LS to move around, RS to aim and X to dash and it is nigh on impossible, for me at least, to press all three buttons simultaneously to dash in the direction I want to. If you let go of RS, more often than not, you will aim in a completely different way to the direction that you are moving in which invariably leads to dashing into an enemy’s clutches or straight off the edge of the side of the map.

There are easy, normal, hard and hardcore difficulties which are interchangeable whenever you need to apart from hardcore mode which needs to be set from the beginning of a game because if the entire team dies, its game over.

As you play through the levels you will discover new spells, kill enemies, find loot and unlock new characters to play as, with their own skillsets and attacking spells. I found that there is a strange emphasis on new characters to unlock rather than just enjoying the character you’re currently playing as, which was a little strange. Killing enemies and opening chests will earn you XP which in turn will level you up and earn you skill points. You can assign your skill points in your character’s skill trees to make you a lot more powerful.

The levels are challenging and have a set number of hidden quills to find and collect in each area, some of which are tricky to locate and may require jumping to reach. The boss fights and events are a quite fun and often require a complete overhaul of your plan of attack. Thankfully, there is a checkpoint system so if you happen to die one too many times, you will respawn at the last checkpoint rather than having to start the entire level again which I certainly appreciated. One thing I noticed was that a lot of the enemies are able to lunge towards you more often than you can dash which inevitably results in you being overrun and killed. Of course, that's not a huge problem if you're playing on normal difficulty like me but it doesn't exactly give me high hopes for playing on hardcore difficulty. 

Nine Parchments does have the ability to play co-op both local and online, up to four players, which I was incredibly excited about. Frustratingly, I found it to be poorly optimised as it would have the camera randomly focused on neither of the players which would often mean that either myself or my teammate was lost off screen somewhere with no idea how close enemies or the edge of the map was.

My biggest annoyance with Nine Parchments and ultimately why I decided against playing co-op is that there is friendly fire with no option to turn it off whatsoever. In a game where the majority of spells are large AOE ones, which cover most of the floor, it baffles me why friendly fire would have been considered a good idea in the first place. You can revive fallen teammates and you do have the option to “invert” friendly fire and take the damage yourself, but in my opinion, doing that doesn’t help the situation at all.

Overall, Nine Parchments is exactly the kind of game that I usually love and as much as I wanted to like this game, I couldn’t help but feel that it was lacking polish when it came to playing co-op with others. After a while of playing, the game can feel a little repetitive, especially when you are having to repeat the same section a few times because you're getting swarmed. If I had to give it a score, it would be 7/10.

Nine Parchments has 39 achievements available for a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. A substantially sized list featuring mostly ‘character unlock’ achievements as well as achievements for defeating certain bosses and for completing levels on hardcore difficulty. I feel like there could have been a real opportunity for some creative requirements but unfortunately, it was missed. If you need any help or guidance with any of the achievements, then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information.

A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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