LifeisXbox’s Asterigos: Curse of the Stars review | Another Souls-Like game? I know with Steelrising and Thymesia recently we’re dangerously close to an oversaturation of the genre but Asterigos manages to stand out. Unexpected if I’m honest, who would have thought that the brand-new indie developer Acme Gamestudio would deliver one of the best Souls-like games besides the genre masters themselves, From Software.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Hilda | I might have a thing for redheads, my girlfriend is blond so I hope she doesn’t read this. While pleasant to the eye, our young warrior Hilda reminds me of Nariko from Heavenly Sword, that’s not why I’m writing a positive Hilda section. Looks aside I’m a fan of Hilda as she has a strong and curious personality, which is a perfect fit in the heavy-story parts of Asterigos. Her willingness to take action and don’t show fear against brachiosaurus high crocodiles and monsters make it fun to follow very long NPC conversations. (Don’t worry, you can skip all conversations if you desire)
- The beautiful art style and world-building | One thing that Acme Gamestudio nailed is the world and art style. I really enjoyed my time exploring the city of Aphes and all the surrounding locations. It takes an extra step to what Ubisoft did with Immortals Fenyx Rising. I wouldn’t say it is an exact similar look but it isn’t far from it. The Roman setting in Asterigos is stunningly accurate and diverse too! You’ll come across massive temples full of statues and art, explore dark caves, see impressive long-distance vistas, run and fight inside castles or colorful forests. I have seen a lot more talented work in this game than in many triple-A games, and please don’t forget this is the debut game for indie-developer Acme.
- Guess what! You can change the difficulty for Souls-like games | I don’t care on what side of the discussion group you stand about difficulty but I’m glad that more gamers can enjoy Asterigos. I know people who stopped playing Elden Ring because it was too difficult, this is something you won’t have with this game. Three difficulty levels make the game accessible to everyone. Small note, the easiest setting doesn’t make it into a Dynasty Warriors game, you will still need to think about fighting tactics. Blindly going into fights is still a death sentence.
- Fighting mechanics | Speaking of Dynasty Warriors, there is a lot of hack & slash combat in Asterigos. A large part of most Souls-like games is the Stamina or power meter, in this game which is only consumed by dodging. (and annoyingly sprinting too) You immediately get the option to use all weapons, swords and shields, daggers, a powerful but slow hammer, a long-ranged Spear, a Staff that shoots out magical bolts, and magical Bracelets that can lay mines. Learning how to use them takes a while and there isn’t really a quick way to get familiar with the abilities. You can equip two weapons at the same time and deal weapon combos, so finding your own fighting style is the first important task as a player. Even when not equipped with a weapon you can still use their special ability, a very neat mechanic that I haven’t seen a lot in other games. I personally used the staff for long-ranged damage and the sword and shield for close combat. That said, I think using that staff is mandatory as having no option to deal damage at a long distance will make some boss fights near impossible. Each weapon can be updated to deal more damage and there is an upgrade system similar to Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid to learn new abilities.
- Hilda’s story and massive lines of dialogue | I applaud the devs for giving Asterigos an extended story with NPCs who usually have a background as well. In the world, you are going to find several documents that explain more about what is going on but the real power is in the dialogue options. Here they do exaggerate because you are overloaded with information about things that actually have little relevance. Nice that the NPCs have a lot to say but if I want to read a Bible I will look for it in a used bookstore. Also, you have an influence on the story with the decisions you make but I actually noticed little to no difference.
What we Disliked
- World-building and level design are two separate things! | I loved the world but the level design is the real Souls feature. You often get lost, without having any idea where to go. Many dead ends without any rewards, confusing samey dungeons where even light doesn’t seem to escape. Even the main hub called the shelter is unpleasantly confusing. I really liked the individuals at the Shelter, for example Minerva and the characters that appear by rescuing them in the game, but being forced to go back and forth many, many times isn’t my exact idea of gameplay fun. Combine this with the wrong design choice to use stamina for running faster and you get some nasty boring moments.
How long to beat the story | 20 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 30 hours
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