Frozenbyte is a Finnish developer responsible for making many enjoyable indie games such as the Trine series and Has Been Heroes just to name a few. Now the developer is giving us the Harry Potter inspired co-op game called Nine Parchments.
The premise of Nine Parchments is pretty simple, although you will want to play more in order to see what happens. At the start of the game, you can only control two young student wizards, although by the end of the game there are 8 playable heroes and many classes for you to further unlock.
The story is quite unique because the two young students from Astral Academy actually skip their training to gather the Nine Parchments already. This means the game foregoes a long tutorial and you can get into the action very quickly.
However, when I first played this game I have to admit I didn’t like it. This is because I played the game co-op offline with my brother and the structure of the game made things more difficult for two players for some reason.
Before I begin talking about the flaws, I’ll talk about the general gameplay system What I admire most about the game is that it has an active combat system. It plays a bit like Diablo 3 or League of Legends since it’s a top-down isometric camera viewpoint.
The game also has similarities with a PS4 game I played a few years ago and that’s Helldivers. You can attack enemies by aiming with the right stick and there are at least four different skills that you can equip at one time. By rotating the skills, you will be better at tackling the more tougher enemies of the game.
At the start of the game, your skills and abilities are pretty limited. You only have some type of laser spell as well as a flamethrower spell. In terms of healing, you can create a circle on the ground that replenishes your health.
As you progress in the game, you get more skills and more heroes that join your party. The more skills you get, the better the game gets as you can defeat enemies with ease. The beginning of the game is arguably the worst part of the game mainly because you are under-powered and the enemies are bullet sponges for most of the time.
Now let’s go back and talk about the reasons why I initially hated this game and that’s when I was playing it co-cooperatively with my brother. I normally play games like this solo first, but my brother was bored and decided to ‘help’ me play this game.
Well playing this game cooperatively from the start seems like a bad idea and this is speaking from experience. First of all, my brother’s character (who was player 2 by the way) was able to have two lives. As for me, I was only allowed one life unless my brother was able to revive me.
The game is not hard by any means, but it was kind of annoying how I had a lower life count than my brother did. It was annoying whenever I died, yet my brother always had a second chance at life. I wasn’t sure if this was a glitch or not, but it seems like it was a design choice.
The other annoying thing about playing cooperatively is that the enemies are purposefully tougher and appear in greater numbers. I hoped co-op would have made the game slightly easier, but it just made the game more frustrating.
At the start of the game, my brother and I did little damage to the enemies no matter how hard we tried. Not to mention all the magic spells have a cooldown period so you cannot attack as many times as possible. We would just have to run around in circles avoiding attacks until we were able to attack again.
To avoid more frustration, I decided to restart and play the game by myself. To my amazement, the game was much better to play as a single player experience. The enemies weren’t spamming as many attacks and it was much easier to kill them. Not to mention I also had two lives at every checkpoint instead of just the one!
As I played more, I begun to appreciate the game more. The more stuff you unlock, it gets better since you are stronger and more skilled. It’s also worth mentioning some enemies are immune to some attacks so you have to change up your attacks in order to remain in the zone.
The bright levels and colorful graphics are also majestic to look at. Nine Parchments is easily one of the prettiest games I have played all year long. That said, the character models are smaller than I’d like to be.
The game can also get a little repetitive at times as you are just killing waves upon waves of the same/similar looking enemy types. The levels are also pretty linear as you often only have one path to follow and there are little chances for you to do any exploration.
If you don’t want to play offline, you can join an online game where you can pair with up to three other players. Having four players instead of two is far better. I also admired the fact that the online players were more skilled at the game than me and my brother!
Verdict: Overall Nine Parchments is a mixed bag for me as a game. There is a charming factor to the game thanks to its beautiful visuals and accessible gameplay. However, there’s a part of me that dislikes this game and that’s due to some repetitive level structure and odd difficulty spike while playing the game’s co-op mode offline. If you have four controllers or four mates, you will enjoy it more than other people though.
[Editor’s Note: Nine Parchments was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]