I wasn’t fairly certain what to anticipate, going into Asterigos: Curse of the Stars. It’s, in any case, the debut title from Taiwanese developer Acme Gamestudio, so there’s virtually no pedigree to talk of.
Nevertheless, even with all the opposite large RPGs from large manufacturers releasing across the clock, generally it is good to expertise one thing new & unknown, one thing a bit extra targeted and smaller-scope, and one thing not tied to any present model or property.
And truthfully, I loved Asterigos rather more than I anticipated to.
The playable character of Asterigos (that is pronounced AST-terr-reh-gohs) is a younger lady named Hilda, a warrior of the Northwind Legion who travels to the cursed metropolis of Aphes to search out her lacking father & tribemates. Aphes has been caught in time for hundreds of years, as a result of titular Curse of the Stars. As Hilda seeks out her brethren, the historical past of Aphes & its curse slowly involves the forefront, and Hilda’s actions will unavoidably form its destiny.
Asterigos is an motion RPG, the place Hilda can concurrently wield two completely different weapons from a complete of six differing types. The fight techniques at play really remind me of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning greater than the rest – a sport that additionally positioned heavy emphasis on creating assault combos from a weapon pair. Because it seems, there may be really a good bit of selection that comes from altering up which weapons you resolve to wield, as every performs a bit in another way.
As you progress via the sport, you can unlock extra expertise to your desired weapon sort, in addition to upgrades to passive parts comparable to cost time, defend effectiveness, and related. All in all, it isn’t a really ornate or novel fight system, however it’s competent and surprisingly versatile.
There are additionally some hints of inspiration from Souls-like video games in Asterigos, however solely in a extra restricted method. There are conduits scattered across the sport world, appearing as your locations of therapeutic, in addition to eventual warp and storage factors. By resting at conduits, all close by enemies will respawn. World navigation additionally locations heavy emphasis on discovering your means round to shortcuts – comparable to dropping down ladders or opening doorways from the opposite unlocked aspect. There may be additionally no in-game map, so you’re coerced to navigate world wide utilizing landmarks and the atmosphere itself.
I feel calling Asterigos a Souls-lite is truthful, when you should label it. In case you are inclined to draw back from something Souls-inspired, although, do not fret an excessive amount of. Asterigos is rather more forgiving than most similarly-inspired video games. For one, there’s a Story problem which drastically eases up on any current problem, for these desirous to leisurely expertise Hilda’s journey. However even in its normal mode, the sport is greater than manageable, as checkpoints and well being potions are loads. It is also value noting that Asterigos has a reasonably normal EXP and leveling system. In some methods, Asterigos seems like an journey RPG from years previous.
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Asterigos’ narrative is definitely, on paper, surprisingly fascinating. Quickly after Hilda arrives in Aphes, she meets an aristocratic resident named Minerva, who could possibly be argued is – essentially – the principle character of Asterigos’ storyline. She’s not essentially a likable particular person, or essentially the most sympathetic character, however the narrative course runs via Minerva and her actions. She’s usually at odds with Hilda, particularly throughout the begin of the sport.
However as you progress via the sport, you may find out how Minerva is tied to the titular Asterigos curse, together with a number of different characters essential to the cursed metropolis’s historical past. Maybe additionally impressed by the budding Souls-like style, a lot of Asterigos’ storyline is delivered via in-game diary entries and notes (in all probability too many notes, to be sincere), although normal dialogue sequences are additionally commonplace. It admittedly took some time to develop on me, however piecing collectively the thriller surrounding Aphes, experiencing opposing views and clashing factions, the story really managed to speculate my consideration. Kind of.
Regardless of the fascinating conceptual premise, nevertheless, Asterigos’ execution of its narrative is considerably tough. The script itself is usually held again by some awkwardly translated textual content, and dialogue exchanges additionally at all times appear to go about three sentences too lengthy. The sport’s modest price range does no favors right here both, as solely an important traces shall be voiced, which generally causes conversations between characters to awkwardly toggle between voiced and voiceless traces, although that is extra of a distraction than the rest. General, the narrative that surrounds Asterigos is a kind of issues that I discover a conceptually fascinating premise, however flawed execution all through dilutes its effectiveness on the entire.
Asterigos has a decent presentation total, from serviceable voice appearing, an enthralling artstyle, good atmosphere aesthetics, and a legible consumer interface. Asterigos’ easy artwork aesthetic just isn’t solely charming, however it’s really one thing I functionally appreciated, so far as traversing environments go. After I performed the souls-like RPG Steelrising final month, the sheer density of visible muddle within the atmosphere design legitimately made it harder to find out the place I might go & which paths have been really traversable. Certain, it appeared good in case you are purely speaking about visible constancy, however it did not really do the sport any actual favors while you really needed to management a personality inside that sport house. I feel Asterigos’s extra stylized artwork fashion just isn’t solely interesting sufficient by itself, it’s rather more conducive to legible environments and having the ability to navigate them.
That is to not say Asterigos’ degree design is stellar, although, as a result of there are literally a number of locations that have been genuinely irritating to navigate. Maybe as a result of price range constraints, varied inside hallways or cave interiors generally tend to look overly related to one another, so it is moderately simple to get confused about the place you really are at instances. I’ve skilled worse on this entrance, for certain, however nonetheless, it’s best to in all probability anticipate to get at the least slightly bit misplaced in some unspecified time in the future.
One of many extra bothersome parts of Asterigos is the way it handles its quest design. There are quite a few sidequests all through Hilda’s journey involving different residents of the cursed metropolis, and these quests are of various types and high quality. Hilda even has her personal journal that takes be aware of those sidequests, of which I am of two minds. Her journal is rather more sensible & diegetic in comparison with most RPGs, with Hilda’s notes written in first-person along with her personal ideas (and drawings) on the occasions that transpire. That is really very nice to see, and I a lot desire it over the generally seen gamey checklist-like quest logs which can be usually in any other case discovered within the style.
Nevertheless, as a journal, Hilda’s notes are sometimes really ineffective. She’ll embody some feedback about her opinions on the search, however little details about what she thinks she could have to do. And oftentimes, the way in which to really progress a quest is considerably opaque. Generally it’s a must to converse with a specific NPC at a specific place, choosing a specific dialogue possibility to be able to progress a sidequest. Good luck determining the place you stand at your sidequest progress in case you are coming again to the sport from an prolonged absence, as a result of the journal – regardless of being a enjoyable have a look at Hilda’s inside monologue – is not going to be useful resource for really reminding you what the search was even about.
Even nonetheless, I a lot desire this fashion of quest design greater than fetch quests or errands usually seen in RPGs. Actually, I had a little bit of enjoyable collaborating with different gamers as the sport launched, collectively making an attempt to determine how a sidequest progresses and what must be completed. I nonetheless suppose Hilda ought to take higher notes, although.
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Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a greater expertise than I anticipated it to be. Regardless of its shortcomings, comparable to extreme dialogue, translation oddities, quest points, and a few awkward space design, for these on the lookout for a cushty motion RPG with a satisfying story & competent fight, Asterigos deserves an opportunity.