It is easy to be blase about another KEMCO game coming to the Xbox consoles these days. See, this review marks a bit of a personal landmark, the twentieth KEMCO title that I’ve played and reviewed since 2017 – an average of four games a year.
The latest is that of Silver Nornir, yet another retro styled JRPG. Is it worth playing?
In an RPG, story is king. And there is definitely a story going on here, make no mistake about it. My slight reservation is that it is a tad confusing. It focuses on a bad guy, a world, and a bunch of heroes, who all interact. Chaos has apparently already destroyed the world twice, there are certain characters who are immortal, but can still be killed in battle, and we have to try and stop the world from being destroyed a third time by playing as Ein and his companions. Other than this, you really have to play Silver Nornir to fully understand just how bonkers it is.
With the completely bizarre story part of the whole JRPG thing nailed on, how does Silver Nornir present itself? Well, it’s pretty much like that we’ve seen before from the team at KEMCO, as this is most certainly a retro styled affair; although not quite as retro as their previous effort, Dragon Prana. In fact, this time the era of the graphics appears to be from around the time of the SNES. As a result, the sprites are quite large and display a lot of personality. They are designed firmly on the anime end of the scale, rather than realistic, and when one of the more dangerous enemies that you face appears to be an eight year old girl, it tells you all you need to know. The action is viewed from the traditional top-down perspective, and in the main this viewpoint works pretty well.
The sounds are also on the serviceable end of the spectrum, with various sword swishes and spell whooshes all present and correct. A special mention has to go to one of the female protagonists, who yells “Solly!” every time she attacks a baddie, and another to Master Blade, who is able to fight perfectly despite appearing to have two strips of gaffer tape over his eyes. Willing suspension of disbelief…
But let’s take a look at that gameplay and to begin with Silver Nornir is pretty much business as usual. There are a bunch of characters you control, there are various overblown cutscenes full of drama to watch, and then we are unleashed on a waiting world. Now, the game has a pretty major flaw straight away, and it is a pretty simple one: the character movement is too fast. It’s something you may recognise if you are old enough to remember Benny Hill and his upbeat music. Spending time with Silver Nornir is like trying to play through that. In fact, all that is missing is the music! Seriously, trying to line up your party in order to open a chest or get through a small gap is an exercise in futility. And you should forget trying to do any of the (very simple) puzzles that require you to follow a certain path – it is almost impossible to get your team where you want them. And no, there are no settings to enable it to be slowed down either.
Apart from the annoying movement, the rest of Silver Nornir is as you’d expect as you wander through dungeons, engage in random fisticuffs with a variety of foes (although not a huge variety, mostly just different colour palettes of foes you’ve seen before) until you get to a boss. From there it’s a case of battering said boss, and then moving on to the next. There isn’t even an overworld to explore this time – the only thing you can do from the world map is move to the next destination, but even this isn’t straightforward. If you want to go to a destination to the left, you have to press either up or down on the D-pad. It’s annoying to say the least.
Otherwise, the combat is the same as ever, turn-based and old school in design. Depending on the characters that you have, there are different team attacks that can be carried out, which does add a layer of complexity that is most welcome. Honestly, the actual combat is by far and away the best part of this game; getting to grips with your team and taking out a huge boss is a very satisfying thing to achieve.
In conclusion then, Silver Nornir is an interesting entry into the KEMCO stable. The story is bonkers, and the combat is good, but you’ll need to balance that against the very annoying controls and the lack of any overworld to explore. With the speed of Benny Hill present, it’s ultimately a solid entry in the genre, but not one that is going to set the world on fire. Perhaps expect a little light smouldering.
Silver Nornir is on the Xbox Store