Astria Ascending | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Artisan Studios
  • Publisher: Dear Villagers, Maple Whispering
  • Release Date: 30/09/2021
  • Price: £35.99 / $39.99
  • Review code provided by Dear Villagers

Introduction to the Astria Ascending Review

The world lives within harmony. All different races living together within Harmony. Or, at least that is what Astria Ascending wants you to believe. Astria Ascending is a traditional JRPG with a tale of intrigue for sure, but how does this game stack up in a genre of world ending threats? Let’s dive into this review of Astria Ascending.

Harmony and Dissonance

Sadly, Astria Ascending’s story is rather lackluster. Falling the same themes of most JRPGs where the world is ending and only the main party can do anything about it, though we do have a forced harmony upon the world here. 

Citizens of the world are forced to eat Harmelons. These fruits are supposed to basically force those of different races to live together in peace. Well, apparently some people haven’t been eating their Harmelon and can see the world for what it is, stagnant and decayed in its purpose. 

The Demi-Gods, agents of the Goddess Yuno herself, stand up to these foes trying to bring about Dissonance and the premise of this struggle is really fascinating in concept. The writing is an embodiment of the city Harmonia itself, stagnant, certainly not what will attract one to this game, but thankfully there is way more here to attract its fans.

Mechanics Galore

I feel like someone needs to talk about mechanic pacing within games. Tutorial overflow is certainly an issue in modern gaming and Astria Ascending is certainly a big offender in the space. Yes, they made a game system where weaknesses and strengths matter. 

The combat of Astria Ascending is a turn-based combat system with a twist from JRPGs and using a Focus based system where you benefit with extra damage for abusing enemy weaknesses. The more I played with this system the more I fell in love with it and Astria Ascending as a result. Well, until the game reminded me there was a poorly structured plot to be had.

Pick a Job

JRPG tropes are abound here and that includes a Job system. Each character starts with a base job, and skill/stat tree to go with it. As the story progresses, you are able to find additional job crystals that allow you to unlock additional job trees. This certainly allowed for a lot of customization for your team, but at the same time it is not a beginner friendly system. It really causes some gameplay padding as you struggle to get points to unlock the next stat boost, support ability, or active skill for battle.

J-Ster, The Annoying Past time

Every JRPG these days needs some major side activity and Astria Ascending couldn’t leave that trope behind. So, let’s talk about J-Ster: a token based game where you simply compete to see who has more tokens flipped by the end of the game. This is decided with many factors in mind, such as token strength and strengths and weaknesses for each token. 

I honestly didn’t care for this activity in the slightest. If I could avoid it that would be one thing, but for some reason you get forced to play this several times during the story of the game. I just didn’t care for being forced to play this game.

Though there is an interesting ability the thief character has that lines up with this activity. The thief starts with an ability called “Token Transfer” that has a chance to turn creatures into tokens for J-Ster. I guess that should have been my hint that they really want you to play that game more than once.

I Get It, You’re Racist

This is a specific issue I have with the character writing. Each other character in the party seemed to have different defining character traits, be it a genius type character or the leader arch-type. Then for some reason we have the boot-kissing racist soldier type, and while that wouldn’t bother me all that much, it is the fact that this character basically speaks up in way more scenes than he should, and all of it being racist. It is just another fine example of the issues I have with the writing in this game.

Final Thoughts

Astria Ascending is not going to be for everyone out there. Even as a die-hard JRPG fan, the story made this game a tad bit harder to enjoy. Though, thankfully, the combat is fun and engaging enough to carry the entire game forward. Certainly worth a play, but perhaps try not to focus on the story too much.

Pros:

  • Fun, innovative turn based combat
  • Multi-classing 
  • Starts you with a full JRPG party

Cons:

  • Stereotypical one-dimensional characters
  • Uninteresting story
  • J-Ster games

Verdict

Astria Ascending will be a fun time for some, but likely to come off as a dissonance for others.

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