Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is yet one more sport in a protracted line of video games that desires to liken itself to the “souls” style regardless of truly having little or no in widespread with From Software program’s want to beat individuals into submission. Apart from an absence of a map and dropping some sources if you die, Asterigos has nothing to do with Darkish Souls or its ilk, however that doesn’t imply it’s missing in good qualities. Whereas it won’t supply something new or groundbreaking there’s a solidly designed action-RPG right here that provides a whole lot of content material for a comparatively low value, and for the fitting individual that’s going to be a killer deal.
As younger, pixie-faced Hilda, a full-fledged member of the Northwind elite preventing power, you get thrust into the center of an already unfolding drama within the metropolis of Athes. Some unusual curse has befallen town, individuals are mutating into monsters and warring factions have divided the world. Though Hilda’s mission is to establish what occurred to the earlier Northwind troopers despatched to town with a purpose to discover a treatment for his or her cursed King, she is rapidly pulled into the politics, tradition, and ongoing catastrophe of Athes. To seek out her fellow Northwind troopers, led by her Father, Hilda goes to should work along with Minerva and co to hopefully carry the curse and uncover what is occurring.
It’s clear the builders have been excited about Asterigos for a very long time as a result of there are heaps of lore and particulars to find for anybody keen to delve into the varied dialogue choices or learn by way of the library’s value of paperwork scattered across the place like a submitting system being run by an enthusiastic pet. Even skimming this optionally available content material fleshes out numerous factions, their relationships, character’s objectives, the magic and tradition of town and its individuals, and extra. It’s fairly dry studying, thoughts you, and whereas the primary dialogue choices are all voiced the optionally available ones usually are not, leading to a complete lot extra studying. There’s additionally a problem with the standard of voiced strains versus voiceless ones – the previous lacks a lot character or aptitude however a minimum of flows considerably naturally, whereas the latter is delivered way more like a barrage of exposition written by another person fully. I is perhaps method off in my guess right here, but it surely looks as if the primary storyline dialogue was written after which every thing else was handed off to different individuals within the crew. That’s common, however the distinction isn’t usually so pronounced.
Closely based mostly in historical Greek and Roman tradition, Asterigos makes use of this to combine in a whole lot of completely different themes, from the huge class divides to a dislike and mistrust of outsiders. There’s loads occurring on the earth, most of which works largely ignored or unexplored. It’s largely used to flesh Athes out and make it really feel like an even bigger, residing place with a historical past and a future.
Being younger and inexperienced, Hilda’s fundamental theme all through the sport is that actions have penalties, particularly if you make choices impulsively in a fancy state of affairs of which you could have nearly no data. She has to navigate an unfamiliar metropolis inhabited by individuals who have lived for lots of of years and at the moment are embroiled in a civil battle of kinds. It’s a powerful thought and provides’s the courageous, curious, and likable Hilda a superb story arc, however very often the “penalties” don’t really feel critical sufficient as a result of every thing nonetheless works out for the most effective even whereas the opposite characters berate Hilda for taking issues into her personal arms. It’s just like the story can’t fairly determine if it needs Hilda to study and develop, or to have her because the badass hero who’s at all times proper and so there’s a barely awkward middle-ground the place she is technically fallacious however her actions don’t result in something too disastrous.
Should you’re keen to pore by way of the varied additional dialogue choices and paperwork then there’s undoubtedly loads to be gained from the story, however personally, I discovered it an excessive amount of of a slog and thus solely evenly skimmed the additional materials. The primary storyline is the place I centered and it was largely simply advantageous. Okay characters and an okay plot left me ready for a twist or massive story beat that by no means got here. I by no means felt engaged or cared about any of the characters. I do recognize the a number of endings, nonetheless, and that the actions which affect which one you get aren’t clearly signposted. I don’t assume it’s value going again by way of the entire sport to see them, thoughts you.
One of many traits of the Souls style that Asterigos copies is the shortage of a map, pushing you to as an alternative navigate by reminiscence whereas unlocking quite a few shortcuts that will help you get round faster, and later a teleport system as nicely. Should you occur to be directionally challenged, like me, it may be a bit irritating, particularly when areas are linked by non-descript little doorways or the way in which ahead feels intentionally obtuse. For instance, you may sensibly anticipate the subsequent space to be by way of the place you fought the primary boss, when in truth you should head again on the Shelter (your private home base) and undergo a nondescript gate that no person mentions. It doesn’t fairly make sense right here, both: you’re transferring by way of an previous metropolis whose inhabitants are hundreds of years previous, and but by some means no person has a map and no person appears inclined to provide you instructions. Nonetheless, I do recognize the satisfaction of studying the structure, even when I do want Asterigos terrain was a bit extra attention-grabbing to help in that endeavor – a whole lot of uninteresting, linear corridors or samey-looking areas could make remembering instructions tough.
Regardless of her petite dimension Hilda by some means manages to return packing 5 completely different weapons because of her homeland’s fancy remodeling weapon tech; sword and defend, hammer, magic employees, gauntlets, and spear are your selections, all of which clearly do barely various things. The employees is a long-range alternative that lets Hilda toss out bolts of magic, the gauntlets are good for crow management and the hammer is beneficial for woodwork tasks or meting out a number of injury. Two weapons might be geared up at any time and you’ll launch assaults both by urgent one button or the opposite, together with some quite simple combos. Every weapon additionally comes with a particular Method, such because the Spear having the ability to parry incoming assaults earlier than launching a strong counterstrike. And for protection, there’s the usual dodge roll which might’t be spammed as a result of a easy stamina system. There’s a slight delay to all of the inputs that I discovered annoying however simple sufficient to compensate for.
Asterigos does take a bit little bit of affect from Darkish Souls in its fight, a minimum of within the sense that there’s a barely slower tempo with an emphasis on delivering a couple of hits earlier than getting out of the way in which. You’ll be able to’t at all times cancel out of your strikes with a dodge, so over-committing to an assault is foolhardy. On medium and laborious the enemy can fairly simply decimate your well being bar, although well being potions are fairly plentiful, so you’re inspired to be pretty cautious. In fact, you may drop all the way down to simple, at which level Asterigos turns into extra like a breezy motion sport, and fairly frankly I most well-liked it this manner.
Why did I desire the simpler mode? The issue is that throughout the 20+ hours it takes to complete Asterigos I did discover the gameplay wasn’t in a position to maintain my enjoyment. About midway by way of it was beginning to drag as a result of the fight and gameplay by no means evolves. Get in, land some hits, parry/dodge and repeat the method whereas throwing within the occasional particular ability. It’s a fight system we’ve seen so many instances now and Asterigos doesn’t do something particular with it, nor does it really feel unhealthy. It’s simply okay, and okay doesn’t fairly get the job completed in a prolonged sport like this the place fight is the most typical gameplay aspect. By dropping all the way down to simple, I discovered I used to be in a position to benefit from the expertise extra as an alternative of feeling exasperated on the considered one other similar, plodding combat, particularly on the toughest setting the place enemies begin to really feel like strolling sponges and might dish out insta-death combos.
There are some massive points with the enemy AI and the way oblivious they are often to your existence. You’ll be able to simply bait a single foe away from a bunch whereas the others seem untroubled by the sudden barrage of fireballs, and it’s equally potential to get right into a combat with one or two enemies whereas the remainder stand a couple of toes away, stoically ignoring your continued makes an attempt to homicide all of them. It truthfully makes it really feel such as you’ve cheesed your method by way of a whole lot of fights, and it’s additionally fairly simple to jog by way of enemies when you’re feeling lazy.
Customizing Hilda and leveling her up are dealt with by way of a few techniques, beginning with fundamental attribute factors which might be poured into rising fundamental injury, well being, or the ability of magical assaults/skills. Ability factors get tossed right into a round star constellation menu the place you unlock interlinking perks and abilities. As much as 4 abilities might be mapped at any given time and let Hilda do some cool stuff like hurling her spear by way of enemies or coming into particular stances. They add a bit spice to the in any other case pretty bland fight. Perks are extra attention-grabbing as a result of they are often activated or deactivated at will and aren’t as simple as merely providing a bonus. No, they usually include drawbacks, too, and even change a transfer utterly. It makes them extra attention-grabbing to consider, and permits extra room to change how Hilda fights.
There’s no loot to be present in Asterigos. As an alternative, Hilda can equip particular trinkets that supply completely different advantages, or her gear might be upgraded by visiting the uber-friendly smith again on the Shelter who may enhance her particular elemental jewels. Don’t get too excited, although; it’s only a easy system the place you may swap between 4 forms of elemental varieties to imbue your assaults with. Engaged on all this gear requires quite a few completely different useful resource varieties, so as an alternative of wandering off the overwhelmed path within the hopes of discovering a legendary sword that somebody left mendacity round in a barrel, you amble round searching for chests containing some Starite or Orichalchum. It’s…yeah, it’s not very thrilling. I discovered exploring to be a chore as a result of the rewards have been at all times simply extra sources (half of which I may by no means maintain monitor of. Critically, why do we want so many varieties?) or perhaps a Mimic disguised as a treasure chest. There are a few side-quests to search out off the overwhelmed path, however these are largely forgettable, too.
Leveling up might be the strongest a part of the sport as a result of there’s an affordable quantity of room to tinker with how Hilda approaches to fight, whether or not that’s specializing in powering up the employees for long-ranged work or swapping out perks to deal with having the ability to deal enormous injury whereas additionally being liable to dying if anybody a lot as sneezes in your basic course. It’s not as versatile or as broad as different techniques – you may’t flip Hilda right into a pure magic wielder, for instance – however you stage up at a pleasant clip, so there’s at all times a way of development that I actually appreciated.
Given the sheer quantity of textual content, it’s very clear that Asterigos is a piece of affection for Acme Gamestudio. They clearly spent a whole lot of time crafting their world and their lore, and that keenness comes by way of. However they’ve struggled to convey all of it to the participant, delivering a reasonably flat story with only a few robust characters or impactful moments. The fight, too, lacks impression. Had the entire marketing campaign clocked in at 10 hours or so I feel Asterigos would have benefited as a result of the fight wouldn’t have outstayed its welcome and the story may have been a lot tighter. At 20+ hours, although, a whole lot of time is spent both wandering across the forgettable areas in the hunt for the subsequent goal or preventing yet one more creature.
Finally, I’ve seen every thing Asterigos presents many, many different instances in different video games. That doesn’t make Asterigos unhealthy, but it surely does make it really feel fairly normal. As such, I wouldn’t advocate it for almost all of individuals. I might, nonetheless, advocate it to the followers of this type of sport who’re completely satisfied to just accept that Asterigos doesn’t break any boundaries and simply need a stable journey in a brand new world.