Developer: Artisan Studios
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Serise X, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 30/09/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
Astria Ascending in the new kid on the block looking to enter in to the cracks of JRPG god hood left by the more well-known names in this genre. Does it get through these cracks or does it have something holding it back? lefts find out.
In Astria Ascending you play as Ulan, the leader of the 333rd company of Demi-Gods. With your seven other party members, Ulan is tasked to stop the evil forces trying to disrupt the Harmony of the world. In order to do so, the party must defeat the Astae that protects the kingdoms and use their powers to help save the world.
As you progress through the world, there are a few subplots that are never truly explored. The Parties own individual reasons for joining the 333rd company. To the racial tensions throughout the world. Each blatantly thrown in the players’ faces. These moments could have helped to flesh out some of the horrendous writing you will need to be subjected to. While saying that there are some moments that are well written and touching.
The story in its self is fairly bland and it will add nothing new to make it stand out from the generic JRPG tropes.
Astria Ascending is set up as a simple 2D platformer. Where Ulah will need to run, jump and puzzle solve her way out of dungeons. All the while, with floating bubbles, litter the dungeon that works as on screen enemies that, when contact is made, a battle will start.
While in town, Ulan will visit shops for new equipment, items and guild houses. There is also the opportunity to talk to the town’s folk, and get side quest or play the J-Ster mini game. (more later).
Astria Ascending has two outstanding aspects and I will talk about the first aspect now.
Battles are the typical JRPG turn-based affair. You are allowed four party members in battle at anyone time. While the other four are back up. We can swap them out on any turn however, they cannot act on that turn. This making team set up more important per dungeon.
While battling, the team can gain focus points by hitting the enemies’ weaknesses. Focus Point can power up attacks for massive damage if used on the enemies’ weaknesses. The enemy can also gain and use Focus Point on the party. In boss battles, this can be devastating. Astae’s act at the bosses of dungeons, that leads to a slight bit of repetitiveness in the dungeons as each is basically the same.
Battles have a good dose of magic and physical attacks, with summons and ultimate attacks. It has everything a player of old school JRPGs will love.
There are some difficulty spikes that will need the player to grind out levels in order to complete. These are more noticeable with the Guild Missions, that see the party taking on individual variants of enemies that are super powered. If not ready for these, then it will spell disaster for your party.
Jobs and Customisation
Each Demi-God has a starting job, be that mage, summoner, solider that has a robust and deep level up system allowing for a massive amount of customisation. With around 30-40 nodes to unlock. These include stat bonuses, attacks, new magic and so on. For customisation, when you unlock a stat node, it can present you with up to four different stats to improve but only allowed to pick one. Giving the player the ability to build the characters how they like.
I said starting job; it is possible to unlock three more jobs to further customise and specialise how the character will act in battle, for example White Mage, Black Mage,dDark Knight and so on. Each class has their own strengths and weaknesses This allows for a ton of specialised build and a lot to play with to make the team just right.
Need a break from the story? Then how about a game of J-Ster? I have to admit, as soon as I got to grips with the rules, it was a lot of fun. While completing battles, you are randomly awarded J-ster medals. These are enemies you use in battle. It is also possible to change an enemy in to a medal by one of the party members abilities but success chances are low.
J-Ster is played on a hexagonal grid and the aim of the game it to flip as many of the opponents’ medals as possible. To the winner, a selection of flipped medals. Each medal has a base number that acts as an attack point, so in order to flip a medal your number needs to be higher that the other. It is not as simple as just having the higher number. Around the medal are buffs that can change how the medal behaves. for instance, increasing attack or stopping attacks and so on. It is a game that is bloody addictive.
Oh! What A Heavenly World
Astria Ascending has its flaws for sure, but where the game stands out is the outstanding art style. To say the game is beautiful is an understatement. With hand crafted characters and detailed worlds, to the wonderfully water coloured pallet everything is a joy to see.
The art style looks just as good in battles as well, with flawless animations and magical effects that are some of the best I have seen. It was the art style that made me want to check out the game in the first place and it is wonderful.
Overall, Astria Ascending is a complaint JRPG, that is let down by the story and the simple dungeon design. However, they are outclassed by the other elements in the game. Still making Astria Ascending a worthwhile game to play.
I would like to recommend Astria Ascending to JRPG fans. Just do not be too disappointed by the story.