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 folks into submission. Other than a scarcity of a map and dropping some sources whenever 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 gives a whole lot of content material for a comparatively low worth, 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 drive, 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 realm. Though Hilda’s mission is to establish what occurred to the earlier Northwind troopers despatched to town so as to discover a remedy for his or her cursed King, she is shortly 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 raise the curse and uncover what is occurring.
It’s clear the builders have been desirous about Asterigos for a very long time as a result of there are heaps of lore and particulars to find for anybody prepared to delve into the assorted dialogue choices or learn by way of the library’s price of paperwork scattered across the place like a submitting system being run by an enthusiastic pet. Even skimming this non-compulsory content material fleshes out varied factions, their relationships, character’s objectives, the magic and tradition of town and its folks, and extra. It’s fairly dry studying, thoughts you, and whereas the principle dialogue choices are all voiced the non-compulsory ones are usually not, leading to an entire lot extra studying. There’s additionally a problem with the standard of voiced traces versus voiceless ones – the previous lacks a lot persona or aptitude however at the least flows considerably naturally, whereas the latter is delivered rather more like a barrage of exposition written by another person completely. I could be approach off in my guess right here, but it surely looks as if the principle storyline dialogue was written after which every thing else was handed off to different folks within the workforce. That’s commonplace, however the distinction isn’t usually so pronounced.
Closely primarily based 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 so much occurring on this planet, most of which works largely ignored or unexplored. It’s principally used to flesh Athes out and make it really feel like a much bigger, residing place with a historical past and a future.
Being younger and inexperienced, Hilda’s most important theme all through the sport is that actions have penalties, particularly whenever you make choices impulsively in a fancy scenario of which you have got virtually no data. She has to navigate an unfamiliar metropolis inhabited by individuals who have lived for tons of of years and are actually embroiled in a civil conflict of kinds. It’s a robust 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 very best even whereas the opposite characters berate Hilda for taking issues into her personal palms. It’s just like the story can’t fairly resolve if it desires Hilda to be taught and develop, or to have her because the badass hero who’s all the time proper and so there’s a barely awkward middle-ground the place she is technically incorrect however her actions don’t result in something too disastrous.
For those who’re prepared to pore by way of the assorted further dialogue choices and paperwork then there’s undoubtedly so much to be gained from the story, however personally, I discovered it an excessive amount of of a slog and thus solely calmly skimmed the additional materials. The primary storyline is the place I targeted and it was principally simply tremendous. Okay characters and an okay plot left me ready for a twist or huge 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, nevertheless, and that the actions which affect which one you get aren’t clearly signposted. I don’t assume it’s price 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 dearth of a map, pushing you to as a substitute navigate by reminiscence whereas unlocking quite a few shortcuts that can assist you get round faster, and later a teleport system as effectively. For those who 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 best way ahead feels intentionally obtuse. For instance, you would possibly sensibly anticipate the following space to be by way of the place you fought the primary boss, when the truth is it’s good to head again on the Shelter (your property base) and undergo a nondescript gate that no person mentions. It doesn’t fairly make sense right here, both: you’re shifting by way of an outdated metropolis whose inhabitants are hundreds of years outdated, and but by some means no person has a map and no person appears inclined to offer you instructions. Nonetheless, I do recognize the satisfaction of studying the format, even when I do want Asterigos terrain was a bit extra fascinating to assist 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 come back packing 5 completely different weapons due to her homeland’s fancy reworking weapon tech; sword and protect, hammer, magic employees, gauntlets, and spear are your decisions, 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 helpful for woodwork initiatives or dispensing plenty of harm. Two weapons may be geared up at any time and you may launch assaults both by urgent one button or the opposite, together with some quite simple combos. Every weapon additionally comes with a particular Approach, such because the Spear with the ability to parry incoming assaults earlier than launching a robust counterstrike. And for protection, there’s the usual dodge roll which might’t be spammed resulting from a easy stamina system. There’s a slight delay to all of the inputs that I discovered annoying however straightforward sufficient to compensate for.
Asterigos does take a little bit little bit of affect from Darkish Souls in its fight, at the least within the sense that there’s a barely slower tempo with an emphasis on delivering just a few hits earlier than getting out of the best way. You possibly can’t all the time cancel out of your strikes with a dodge, so over-committing to an assault is foolhardy. On medium and arduous the enemy can fairly simply decimate your well being bar, although well being potions are fairly plentiful, so you might be inspired to be pretty cautious. After all, you may drop all the way down to straightforward, at which level Asterigos turns into extra like a breezy motion sport, and fairly frankly I most popular it this manner.
Why did I favor 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 occasions now and Asterigos doesn’t do something particular with it, nor does it really feel dangerous. It’s simply okay, and okay doesn’t fairly get the job finished in a prolonged sport like this the place fight is the most typical gameplay ingredient. By dropping all the way down to straightforward, I discovered I used to be in a position to benefit from the expertise extra as a substitute of feeling exasperated on the considered one other equivalent, plodding struggle, particularly on the toughest setting the place enemies begin to really feel like strolling sponges and may dish out insta-death combos.
There are some huge points with the enemy AI and the way oblivious they are often to your existence. You possibly can simply bait a single foe away from a bunch whereas the others seem untroubled by the sudden barrage of fireballs, and it’s equally attainable to get right into a struggle with one or two enemies whereas the remaining stand just a few toes away, stoically ignoring your continued makes an attempt to homicide all of them. It actually makes it really feel such as you’ve cheesed your approach by way of a whole lot of fights, and it’s additionally fairly straightforward to jog by way of enemies in the event 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 may be poured into rising fundamental harm, well being, or the facility of magical assaults/skills. Talent factors get tossed right into a round star constellation menu the place you unlock interlinking perks and expertise. As much as 4 expertise may 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 little bit spice to the in any other case pretty bland fight. Perks are extra fascinating as a result of they are often activated or deactivated at will and aren’t as easy as merely providing a bonus. No, they usually include drawbacks, too, and even change a transfer fully. It makes them extra fascinating to consider, and permits extra room to change how Hilda fights.
There’s no loot to be present in Asterigos. As a substitute, Hilda can equip particular trinkets that provide completely different advantages, or her gear may be upgraded by visiting the uber-friendly smith again on the Shelter who also can 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 a substitute 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 on the lookout 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 all the time simply extra sources (half of which I might by no means hold monitor of. Severely, why do we want so many varieties?) or possibly a Mimic disguised as a treasure chest. There are a few side-quests to seek out off the overwhelmed path, however these are principally forgettable, too.
Leveling up might be the strongest a part of the sport as a result of there’s an inexpensive 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 give attention to with the ability to deal large harm whereas additionally being vulnerable to dying if anybody a lot as sneezes in your common path. It’s not as versatile or as extensive as different techniques – you may’t flip Hilda right into a pure magic wielder, for instance – however you degree up at a pleasant clip, so there’s all the time a way of development that I actually preferred.
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 zeal 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 sturdy 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 might have been a lot tighter. At 20+ hours, although, a whole lot of time is spent both wandering across the forgettable areas looking for the following goal or preventing yet one more creature.
In the end, I’ve seen every thing Asterigos affords many, many different occasions in different video games. That doesn’t make Asterigos dangerous, but it surely does make it really feel fairly customary. As such, I wouldn’t advocate it for almost all of individuals. I’d, nevertheless, advocate it to the followers of this model of sport who’re completely satisfied to simply accept that Asterigos doesn’t break any limitations and simply desire a strong journey in a brand new world.
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