[Review] 9th Dawn III – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Valorware
  • Publisher: Valorware
  • Release Date: 06/10/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $15.99
  • Review code provided by Valorware

Introducing: 9th Dawn III for Nintendo Switch

Games occasionally wander over to the Nintendo Switch from the mobile cell phone world. Some of these mobile games work well in the console realm and others don’t. Even for the ones suited to the Switch with a decent port, it’s a rare few that have captivated me beyond a handful of hours. The hardest part of reviewing 9th Dawn III is that it is one of those elusive gems. I could scarcely put the game down long enough as I was lost in its digital world and racked up hour upon hour of play time.

An Evil Lurks Beyond

9th Dawn III Shadow of Erthil first caught my eye on the app store of my phone. I rarely use my phone for gaming as I prefer a physical controller to the touch screen. So as much as it looked like the type of Role-Playing I would enjoy, I passed it up. Luckily, it found its way onto the Nintendo Switch to greet a new audience. In 9th Dawn, you play as a hero of your own making right down to the minutia. You’re an adventurer at heart and the game opens with you exploring your town’s sewers. Not my ideal vacation but it was a great way to introduce me to the world with a brief tutorial and to set the story in motion.

Upon leaving the fetid odors and slimy world behind, you find yourself in a quaint town. You’re instantly approached and asked to see the village elder. He mentions rumors of ghosts and needs an intrepid soldier to aid the town to the North. As you start your quest, it becomes apparent that there’s a lot more going on than ghosts. It seems the King has been acting out of sorts and the job to find out why falls to you.

The narrative came off as a bit thin but that’s the fault of poor storytelling. Rather it is owing to the enthralling gameplay that the plot slid to the back of my mind. The dialogue was fine and the story is parsed out in a way to help you advance to areas within your level. There’s just so much to do in this bite-sized game that I found myself globetrotting instead of plotting.

A World is Swallowed in Chaos

9th Dawn III in a unique Role-Playing game. Though it harkens back to games I grew up with, it was completely its own. I couldn’t help feel nostalgic despite it being distinguished from the games it reminded me of. It would be fitting to call this an action RPG and it could even be classified as a dungeon crawler. There are tons of dungeons to search and some of them are massive. The combat uses the right stick to aim and attack. It resembles a twin stick shooter in a way and will have you wading into swarms of enemies. There are dozens of weapon types you can master with various loadouts. You can dual wield daggers or an axe and sword. Charge in with a massive club or opt for ranged combat using a crossbow or wand.

It’s not just the combat that has a lot of depth to it. The whole system behind 9th Dawn focuses on skills. The skills seem endless. Additionally, each skill levels up by usage, not points allocated to it when you gain enough experience. Be it cooking, fishing or forging your own armor. There’s a ton to focus on. You control just about every detail in constructing your perfect character according to your play style.

Additionally, you’ll add another party member to your team with the same level of customization. It was nice having a heavily armored character who could cast an array of healing spells and buffs then switch to a stealthy rogue who could hide in shadows. And if a party of two just isn’t enough, you can capture nearly every type of creature or monster to join your team. Charging through caves with ten beasts at your back was a blast if not a little confusing at times. On top of all that, 9th Dawn allows for a second player to drop in and help out as well.

Monsters Crawl in the Shadows

The core game is a lot of fun. I had a hard time putting down my Switch at any given time much to the dismay of my wife and family. It was nice having a “Gotta Catch ‘em all,” element with the monsters but that also extended to a rather engaging card game. I think I spent over ten hours on the card game alone. It’s a little hard to explain in a few lines here but think of a linear Triple Triad where you stack cards. 9th Dawn offers a huge world rife for exploration with countless towns and dungeons. There are hundreds of monsters to tame, cards to collect and loot everywhere. There’s no shortage of adventure to be found.

A Hero Braves the Beasts

When I first booted up 9th Dawn, I was a little skeptical about the art style. The graphics won’t compete with the likes of Skyrim but they don’t have to. There are hundreds of monsters and weapons which are all uniquely drawn. When you adorn new armor, your avatar reflects the added gear. Even the movement of the main character is unique. You move in almost a comical way. When you run forward, the character has an exaggerated lean. Turning almost makes you look like a paper doll playing in a gloomy nightmare. There’s a decent variety of locales with a day/night cycle and weather effects.

Further adding to the bleak backdrop is a rather melodic soundtrack. The music and sound effects tied the gameplay and experience together in prodigious style. Even as I write this, the music echoes in my mind. It’s a simplistic track but one that finds its place by filling the silent void while your endeavours are carried out.

A New Light Shines Forth

Technically speaking, 9th Dawn ran without any issues. This wasn’t my first impression as I found a handful of problems early on. However, as I continued to play, I realized these issues were my own doing and not a problem with the game. 9th Dawn looked great on the big screen but I opted for handheld mode. It seems 9th Dawn is perfectly tailored to playing up close, though this did scale back the amount of time I let a second player join.

Final Wrap

If it wasn’t clear throughout my review, 9th Dawn III bewitched me with its open world and captivating leveling mechanics. Before I realized it, I had sunk forty hours into the game and barely scratched the surface. 9th Dawn is a bargain for how much it offers and is great for Role-Playing veterans and newcomers alike. I can’t recommend this bite-sized RPG enough. It’s more than worth the purchase at full price but if you see it on sale, you’d be a fool not to add this 800 MB title to your digital shelf.

Pros

  • Huge World to Explore
  • Hundreds of Collectibles
  • Nearly Endless Customization
  • Engaging Gameplay

Cons

Verdict
9th Dawn III is a charming RPG with all the right elements for a fun time and quickly moved to the top as my indie GOTY.

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