Silver Nornir Review (Switch)
We’ve all experienced those moments in life where we wished for a chance to do things differently. Unfortunately, hindsight alone does not allow for such an opportunity, though there are other universes out there that may very well provide such a chance. Silver Nornir is one such tale of overcoming a horrific past by doing things differently a second – more accurately, a third – time.
Silver Nornir begins at the end, where the heroic leader known as the Peacekeeper leads his army of companions into the final battle with Azatoth, the origin of chaos. The encounter does not fare well for the mortals, as Azatoth kills everyone with the exception of the Peacekeeper, the Keeper of Time, and the world’s Goddess, who only narrowly escape destruction. Interestingly, this isn’t the first, but actually the second time the world has been destroyed at the hands of Azatoth.
While this second world will soon pass on, the Goddess ensures the Peacekeeper that a third world (known as the third age) will eventually come into existence, and perhaps they may be able to end this vicious cycle of life and death there once and for all. With that, she bestows the soul eater power to the Peacekeeper, allowing him to consume lost souls to slowly grow stronger in anticipation for the inevitable third age and hopefully final encounter with Azatoth. Thousands of years later, the world and heroes are reborn once again, though only time will tell whether they truly deviate from past mistakes, or if they’ll finally break the cycle and preserve life for everyone.
On its premise alone, Silver Nornir is certainly one of the more compelling stories from the KEMCO library. Fortunately, it ends up being supported by a wide and varied cast, most of which have their own moments of growth and development over the course of the adventure. The first half of the journey actually focuses more on the idea of immortality, and the many pros and cons that comes with such a trait, before the latter half settles in on the ultimate objective: to finally save the world from complete destruction by the hands of Azatoth.
I’m a huge fan of Lost Odyssey, which really drove home the bittersweet reality of immortality. While you may live forever without a real fear of ever passing away, you must also come to grips with the harsh reality of seeing everyone else around you, even lovers and companions, pass away time and time again. And is it really worth living for so long when you cannot have the ones you love by your side?
Although Silver Nornir doesn’t go quite as deep with it, nor is it remotely close to Lost Odyssey or any RPG with a great story in terms of quality, it is definitely above average in the context of a KEMCO experience. It’s not immune to some groanworthy anime cries, awkward moments, and translation issues, of course, but it is nonetheless an engaging story.
From a gameplay perspective, Silver Nornir is one of the most straightforward KEMCO RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Peacekeeper Ein’s journey will have him traveling across the world via a node system, which generally leads to either a town or a dungeon. Dungeons are relatively linear and easy to navigate, though there are some light puzzles here and there to make things a little more interesting. Unfortunately, you often have to backtrack out of dungeons after completing them, and Silver Nornir has an extremely high encounter rate with no real option of reducing the frequency permanently.
That said, random battles are quite easy and can technically be over in a matter of seconds depending on animation settings, and you’ll ultimately want to partake in as many battles as possible in order to just survive some boss fights. While the majority of boss encounters are straightforward and can be felled easily once you know what you’re doing, they can still hit like a truck and can often one or two-shot one or more party members in an instant.
Battles in Silver Nornir take place on a 3×3 party grid, where the vanguard takes the brunt of the blows while further columns are targeted less, but can reduce that character’s damage output without specific items or equipment. Each party member can equip element-specific gems that will affect their stats in addition to allowing certain magic spells to be used. Gems are leveled up through combat, providing additional stat increases (and even decreases) as well as new spells and abilities every so often. Certain gem combinations allow for unique spells to be used, but characters also come with character-specific skills that are used with TP rather than MP.
Each character also has access to some special attacks that can be used once TP has reached at least 100. Those familiar with the Trails in the Sky games will feel right at home here, as these can sort of be used in a similar manner to the special moves there. You can opt to use multiple special attacks from other party members all in one turn, which can be immensely useful in downing bosses before they have the chance to really do anything.
Overall, it’s not a super engaging combat system, especially considering how braindead the random battles are, but it works. However, those with motion sickness may want to be wary, as the battle camera frequently shifts between party members and the enemy, though there are some options available to lessen this effect. There’s really not much to do outside of progressing the story and doing battle in Silver Nornir, as there are seemingly very few side quests available. That said, the pacing is pretty good since you won’t be bogged down with all that much busy work. There is also some post game content for those looking for a little more out of their experience, though research suggests that it’s nothing too substantial in length. Without postgame, you’re looking at less than 10 hours to get to the final boss.
Aesthetically speaking, Silver Nornir is the epitome of a mixed bag. On one hand, I find it extremely refreshing in the sea of lookalike experiences that KEMCO’s EXE Create partner has brought to the catalog (but don’t get me wrong, some of those are good too!). Despite being in a traditional fantasy setting, it gives off some Phantasy Star vibes with its trailing party of tall characters rather than smaller, often chibi designs. The area designs do have a tendency to feel a bit sterile, however.
The character and combat animations are also pretty good, with each character having a unique stance in combat that helps them stand out from one another. There are some decent enemy designs as well, though they aren’t near as detailed as the character sprites. Silver Nornir has an excellent soundtrack too, even if it suffers from the same fate as its brethren by only offering a handful of tracks throughout the experience.
Silver Nornir may not provide the most robust gameplay experience, but its poignant tale of immortality and learning from the past ultimately makes it worthy of consideration. You can feel the age of this game by its lack of gameplay features, but this does improve the pacing of the game and allows you to experience the story with little distraction or time investment. All that said, Silver Nornir is still a KEMCO RPG, and all the common caveats go along with it: it’s a solid budget experience, but certainly not one that will contend with the highest quality of indie releases.