At nearly nine months since its launch, Nintendo Switch’s library couldn’t be much more expansive and diverse. Nearly every game genre has some form of representation on the eShop, and Nintendo has thus far seen record sales numbers for the first time in years. Not only is Nintendo itself topping the charts with one AAA hit after another, but indie developers are flocking to the hybrid system, ousting the Vita as the veritable prime device for independently developed titles.
One of my favorite types of video games is the dungeon crawler, particularly ones with elements of hack-n-slashes and action RPGs. Some of my favorite PS2-era games include the likes of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath, and Diablo III is one of my most-played games in recent years. The feedback loop of defeating enemies, looting, and upgrading my character is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had in gaming. Of course, each title can take certain liberties with that formula, but the basic idea of exploring dungeons and defeating enemies just has a certain charm to it I can’t pass up.
Enter Nine Parchments. First announced back in May, Nine Parchments is essentially a Diablo-esque game, in terms of both visual presentation and gameplay, except your sole method of combat is using magic. I’m perfectly fine with this distinction, since, in games like Diablo or Champions, I tend to go for the spell slingers anyway. Since its announcement, Nine Parchments has been featured in Nindie Showcases and is currently one of my most anticipated Switch titles of 2017.
Not much is known about the game outside of the recently released demo, but from what I’ve played of it so far, I’m a fan. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have its faults, however; I feel movement is rather sluggish, and some portions of the demo, like having to start from the very beginning of the demo if you die, feel rather obtuse and unpolished. Unlike Diablo or Baldur’s Gate, the focus doesn’t seem to be on loot as much as it is the combat, and each spell feels unique and fun to use. Jumping in with one to three other players, though, is where Nine Parchments—and, I argue, all games of this ilk—shines the brightest. Most spells (at least in the demo) fire as beams, and when your Ice Beam spell inevitably crosses path’s with your companion’s Death Beam, suffice it to say things get interesting and exclamations are likely to be made.
Whether or not Nine Parchments shakes out to be any good remains to be seen, but the Switch is currently lacking in fun, couch co-op dungeon crawlers like it, and it’s time the genre saw a resurgence. Nintendo Switch, by its very design, is the perfect machine for on-the-spot, pick-up-and-play sessions with friends. We’ve already seen games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokken Tournament DX, and Rocket League dominate sales charts, and it’s fair to say the Switch’s portability and instant co-op potential was a driver for those titles, as well as others. So far, the only titles announced for Switch that fit this particular bill are Nine Parchments and Wizard of Legend. That’s a pretty low representation for an arguably popular genre of games.
One thing that I would love to see (but probably won’t happen) is a port of Diablo III. While I do have some criticism regarding the game’s low difficulty curve and the grindy, repetitive combat, it would make a fantastic addition to the Switch’s library—not to mention single Joy-Con support would make cooperative play that much more accessible. Just think: you’re sitting at lunch playing Diablo III on your Switch, and a co-worker approaches you and asks what you’re playing. You say you’re playing Diablo III, and perhaps it’s a game they’ve played on another platform. Before you know it, you’ve popped off your Switch’s Joy-Cons and now have an instant undead-slaying session, right then and there. And with Diablo III having sold 30 million units as of 2015, I think it’s safe to say a Switch port would be a good move—and indicative of the want for dungeon crawlers on Switch. Other titles, like Sacred 3 or Path of Exile, would also be a perfect fit for Switch.
At this point, aside from new games being developed for Switch, all we can really do is show the developers and publishers of these games that porting to Switch would be worth their time and effort, and the only way that can happen is if the player base is vocal about it. The Switch, through portability and instant co-op potential alone, has already proven its worth and that it’s a device gamers want. All we need now is software to take advantage of those features. I’m not even talking about the Switch’s more niche features, like HD Rumble or motion controls or aiming—what’s needed is software that simply takes advantage of the main features that made the Switch such a success in the first place.
All that said, I’m tremendously excited to see how Nine Parchments fares on Switch, despite my concerns with what we’ve seen so far in the demo. I sincerely hope it does well and shows the Blizzards and the Grinding Gears of the world that dungeon crawler, action RPGs have a home on Switch and that there is a demand for more of these types of games.