The beauty of Astria Ascending is only superficial

What would happen if an emerging independent company known for its vibrant 2D JRPG collaborated with the respected Square Enix designer? We are talking about Kazunari Nojima (FFVII/remake, FFVII), Sakimoto Hitoshi (Final Fantasy World II, Wandering Story), Hideo Minaba (FFVI, FFIX, FFXII), and Akihiko Yoshida (Final Fantasy 2, Neal: Mechanics) era). You will get Astria Ascending-a visual feast on the one hand, and a hodgepodge of tasteless mechanisms on the other. I spent several hours sampling the various functions of the game, but I was not satisfied with the overall experience. The second-year effort of the developer Artisan Studios (which also launched Super Neptunia RPG in 2018) showed great promise, but its outdated story and gameplay left a bad taste in my mouth.

Astria Ascending combines JRPG elements (such as skill trees and cosmetics to boost statistics) with platform navigation. The side-view camera is suitable for sparse control; you will move along the horizontal plane, use the jump button to zoom the platform or deactivate obstacles while roaming the dungeon. I look forward to this level of simplicity in side-scrolling, but the exploreable world of Astria Ascending lacks depth.

The puzzle is very easy. In the first copy, I activated four murals and opened a door, but I did not rely on my own credit to solve the mural order; how can I tell the answer when a riddle is engraved on a nearby pillar? At the time, I didn’t know that this would herald the lack of imaginative level design and environmental narrative of the game. Likewise, jumping over the bottomless pit to reach different points of interest quickly becomes boring, because death outside of the battle scene has no consequences. This begs the question: Why are these hazards scattered throughout the game world in the first place?

When you use a series of physical and magic injection attacks, turn-based combat is equivalent to rotating four players (eight members). This allows you to take advantage of elemental weaknesses, cause debuff/destructive status effects, and accumulate focal points (FP) to increase the effectiveness of the selected abilities. I like to collect FPs and combine them with my most powerful magic, but this formula started after the first few battles. Ascension Tree is where you will spend your experience (SP) to enhance statistics or gain new skills. Each upgrade feels like a key customization option. I like to improve my thief’s evasion attribute, so he is more elusive, but at the same time, his accuracy and luck numbers are not that high. Put in four possible “jobs” (or classes/characters) for each playable character, and provide specific unlockable content for each playable character, and then you can create a squad ready for any battle… Or I think so.

The sudden increase in difficulty was an incredible punishment and caused an embarrassing pause in the campaign process. Once, I met a boss who made four almost unbeatable grunts. That Boss casts “stun” and “confusion” on everyone, making them unable to move and fighting against each other. The damage healed to his allies was more than twice the damage I did, and even the downed servant was reborn. I knew immediately that I had to work hard to overcome this obstacle, but it would require me to leave the dungeon completely to repopulate the few wandering enemies. Doing this over and over again pushes me to the wall.

I tend to avoid subtasks because some areas are not yet accessible, and most targets require me to kill punitive monsters or collect miscellaneous materials for NPCs that are easy to forget. When grinding became exhausted, a mini-game called J-Ster made me concentrate (we all know how much I like desktop assisted activities). J-Ster is a bit similar to the Japanese strategy game Go, in that you place five markers on the board and use their power level/position to capture the opponent’s marker. It takes a while to master the rules, but once I master the rules, when the plain plot becomes weak, I am happy to sit down and meet a group of different challengers.

Astria Ascending explores destiny and destiny and hatred and love (in other traditional JRPG themes), which makes sense, because the main setting Orcanon is a divided continent. The five races—the feathered Awisi, the amphibious Peyska, the animal Arktans, the reptilian Zefts, and the humanoid Meryo—have flourished in their own fields, but it is difficult to integrate and live together. Your powerful alien crew, demigod, symbolizes the best warrior/magic that every race must provide. The heroes are given great power to maintain harmony and conquer the “noise” in their short life (three years!), these weird creatures take the wilderness as their home.

Astria Ascending has established its narrative stakes and extensive knowledge from the beginning, and if I say that I am not immediately fascinated, then I am lying. However, the eight characters you start this noise-canceling journey are one-dimensional archetypes. For example, Ulan, the flaxen and shield-backed theater troupe leader, is a “amiable young woman, I hope everyone gets along well”-I found an appropriate description in your diary, because apart from this observation, I can’t remember Any other details about her personality or motivations. The young Pesca, Eco, has some merits; in the early stages of the game, he faced constant scrutiny and was subject to tasteless jokes from his peers. In addition to his role as a poor loser, he (and the rest of the team) failed to achieve the final fantasy ensemble that inspired them.

Discordant realizations like this are commonplace, and therefore disappointing, because Astria Ascending is one of the best-looking 2D games of the year. The meticulously hand-drawn characters and metropolis make up for the lack of interaction and character vitality. In addition, the beautiful animation is incredible. Every stylish flick of hair and mouth-covered smirk bravely tries to personalize/shape the many fighters in your party, but there is not enough content to make most players addicted.

Astria Ascending launched PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch and PC will be released on September 30.


If you can’t stand English dubbing —— Don’t worry, i sympathize with you —— Try to use Japanese VO. This does not make up for the painful conversation, but at least the delivery is much stronger!