You’ll spend a lot of time,wondering who or what Erthil is? You’ll also spend a lot time wondering where you’re going next in Ashwick and what to do next !? In fact,there’s plenty to wonder about and think through..
The start is about as basic as you can get. You pick one character and can customise hair,skin and clothes and then pretty much start from there. No class types or multiple characters to choose.
Then you’ll find you’ll grin a lot..Your main character is as 2D as you can get and looks like he’s been run over by a truck as they move back and forth in a paper mario type way. Then there’s the cartwheel it performs by holding the right stick,that really doesn’t convince you that you’re forging a super warrior killing machine,and your initial first enemy encounters that include squirrels,rats and crabs!
After the amusement comes the alarm button,when you realise that the form of defence is just moving out the way and the attack is literally just aiming with the right stick.
Then you hit your first town and speak to residents,follow the main quest or take a side quest. My initial first quest involved helping a resident who wanted a lever activated from behind a closed door. Simple you might think? Except that the following half an hour involved venturing around the building,down through a multiple room dungeon full of nasties,and then back up through an end room and voila! I’m back in the room to activate the lever and complete the resident side quest !
That’s when this game suddenly hits you and it suddenly dawns on you.The massive enormity of the jobs at hand and the sheer scale and depth of this game,in a infused Stardew Valley-esque sort of way,turns gameplay minutes into hours !
The game boasts some impressive stats.. over 270 unique monster types,1400 items to collect, including over 300 weapons, and over 550 armour/accessories!
All crammed into a pretty large map that will stamp each location as you visit.
From the hundreds of items you collect from loads of crates,barrels or from quests,there’s plenty of options with what you can do with them… want to cook ? No worries..forge your own weapons and armour? It’s here..make your own alchemic recipes? That too! ..and train a companion to help in battle? Yes,there’s a team to assemble and aid in your further questing or go alone for all the glory.
On top of that there’s fishing and a kingdom card game to play called Fyued with over 180 cards to collect! Rather Witcher influenced,each resident can be played against in a card game that plays similar to trumps,but with elemental additions,and not with the complexity and depth of say,Gwent.
Generally,the dungeon settings are nicely layered out with enemies sometimes using elemental attacks,the occasional boss and usually any puzzle is down to advancing through the hordes to reach a room and activate a switch that opens other areas. No frame drops or performance issues were experienced and the experience usually rewarded with chests containing better gear or items.
Above all of the content though,there are some little gripes..
Controls are solid throughout your outside exploits but pull up the user interface and it’s pretty offish. Having to use L&R trigger on each side as regards item inventory and attributes,equipment etc,seems overloaded and can grate and seem way more awkward than it should be.The map can be pulled up with (-) but navigation again,to highlight areas of interest appears to be fiddly.
It’s probably worth mentioning that scattered around each area of the map,you’ll come across bloodspawn save points. You can save anytime from pulling up an options menu (+) but die in any area away from the map,and you respawn at your last bloodspawn save point. It can get annoying if you’re three quarters of the way through a dungeon,and you’re having to retrace your steps to where you last perished but generally it’s probably a reminder that you’re underpowered and under equipped and overall..under levelled.
When it comes to levelling and in the quest to get stronger and obtain better gear. 9th Dawn chugs along at a snails pace meaning that faster gamers looking for quick rewards and quick completion,should not apply.
There’s a lot of items to collect (in a Fallout,Elder Scrolls kind of way)and the sheer mass of content and lack of help could prematurely lose players at the start.
Just like Stardew Valley,the developers are expecting you to put hours and hours into this game for character progression.
I’m pleased to say that every hour invested here,is a complete joy to play. The story suddenly starts to emerge as you complete main quests and instructed to visit new towns that’s definitely a little better than what you’re seeing.
The soundtrack throughout also, is worth a mention as it’s a dark electronic orchestrated score and fused with bell gongs and choir.The only downside I feel,is that it’s a little melodramatic for the overall look and content.
9th Dawn is not going to push any boundaries in innovation or play like something you haven’t experienced before but it’s certainly more involved and better fun than similar titles like Hammerwatch,and once addiction hits you..it’s very hard to put down! You have been warned !
Thanks to Valorware for the code.