Astria Ascending is a JRPG by Artisan Studios, there is a team of developers who have worked on Final Fantasy, Nier Automata and Strong default. The game was also developed in collaboration with Hitoshi Sakimoto, the composer of Final Fantasy XII and Vagrant Story, and Kazushige Nojima, known for his work written for Final Illusion X and Final Fantasy VII Remake. The story revolves around the world of Orcanon, in which you command a battalion of eight demigods tasked with protecting Harmony from the noise. You are given powers when you are chosen as a demigod, but also have your lifespan shortened by three years. After three years have passed, eight other champions are appointed, starting the cycle again. The premise certainly holds promise, but it’s a bit disappointing in its execution.
The game struggled from the start, introducing you to a cast of characters at the end of their reign as demigods. You learn the lesson that they only have three months to live. Since this is your starting point, you don’t have the right time to invest in each character. There are moments in the game where you can get a glimpse of each character’s history, but these moments are few and far between, and never quite hit. Even the relationships between the demigods felt a bit strained, like a miscellaneous group of so-called heroes forced to work together. The dialogue between the characters is not smooth, often resulting in them mocking each other like Arpajo and Eko. Overall, the game lacks interpretation and I felt very isolated and uninterested in the story partly because I couldn’t bond with these so-called heroes, and partly because of the world-building. gender is haphazardly implemented.
Where I would give the game a lot of credit is its art, no question about it. Astria Ascending shine in the visually stunning 2D world. What drew me into the game just from the trailer were the completely hand-drawn illustrations and the beautiful scenery, reminiscent of a vanilla game. There are moments during play when I just need to stop and just admire the lush environment and the details of the artwork. In a way, I almost feel like a tourist in the game because all the time I’m merely enjoying the view. It feels like being in a painting.
It’s a shame that its visual design is its most prominent feature, because in the end being “beautiful” can only help you so far. It’s only been a few hours and I already feel like the experience is a bit confusing. While it actually has a similar format to most JRPGs, the way the game progresses is still repetitive. An emergency call will come from one of the districts, heroes will rush in to investigate, a backstory will follow, demigods will battle through the Noise, and you’ll end up at Council Chamber in the Harmony. You can’t do much in between because the quests are less profitable, the J-Ster minigame isn’t really important to your progress, and continuing the hunts is exhausting because of the lack of hit points Badly designed quest markers and maps.
Combat, while not perfect, uses a turn-based format that will please most fans of old JRPGs. It’s what you’d expect from a game of this genre and very captivating in its own right, with a combat mechanic called “Focus” reminiscent of Bravely Default’s System “Brave” and “Default”. The difficulty seems to be balanced enough and will sometimes fool you, making you feel like a game of dice until a boss starts to develop into many forms. It challenges you to find the right weakness, choose the optimal side, and be as resourceful as possible. However, the biggest flaw in its combat system is the lack of turn stats, making it difficult to plan your actions wisely. Plus, while immediately starting with eight characters seemed like a good thing, it did cause me to pick some characters purely because it felt tedious to build an entire team.
Something else Astria Ascending It would have been possible without the complicated layer that comes with the job system and ascension tree. Ascension tree itself, similar to Final Fantasy X’s spherical grid, not a bad way to progress character. The fact is that you need stat orbs for some part of it, and the game shows you there’s no obvious way to achieve these stat orbs. From what I can tell, it seems to be a special drop from some enemy encounters. The job system is also suddenly introduced, giving you the choice between three main jobs for each character with just a brief line of text explaining what the job entails. You can’t even see the job-related skill tree. It feels like I’ve gone into obscurity. You’re only awarded two job orbs when the system is first introduced, and like stat orbs, there’s no way of knowing when you’ll get your next orb to unlock a job. another thing. Based on these circumstances, the game seems to include a lot of mechanics without much of a base, inspired by Final Fantasy and Strong default, but complicates things unnecessarily in the process.
Some quality of life improvements for Astria Ascending Definitely welcome. While they may not completely fix what the game lacks, they will help create a more enjoyable experience. First, being able to speed up battle animations or skip dialogue during cutscenes would make the game feel a lot less slow. Adding quest markers or improving the map layout will also encourage players to explore the 2D world and make it easier to engage in more side quests along the way. Even a better understanding of the weather system would be a beauty, because when it did exist, it seemed like it was only added as a later idea.
Astria Ascending tried his best to be an all-in-one trader, but failed to do so. You can’t clearly see where the game gets its inspiration from, but it would benefit from some tweaks to focus on its better mechanics. While the game leaves much to be desired in certain respects, it still has its charm. In other words, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. At the very least, the game is friendly to all types of players, with different settings to help you adjust the difficulty you want to play. If you are new to the genre or a casual JRPG player, then Astria Ascending might be worth a try.
GameRev has been provided with a digital download of the game for the purpose of this review.