Asterigos: Curse of The Stars Review – A Soulslite

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a fresh take on the Souls formula, though a few shortcomings stop it from being an amazing experience.

Posted By | On 19th, Oct. 2022

Asterigos: Curse of The Stars Review – A Soulslite

Ever since FromSoftware garnered critical and commercial success with its signature Souls formula, countless developers have tried to replicate that magic with varying degrees of success. Most would agree that the most recognizable aspect of these games is the high level of difficulty and other similarly brutal mechanics, but what if you completely removed or altered those elements to create a more inviting experience for newcomers to the genre? That’s what Acme Gamestudio is trying to do with Asterigos: Curse of The Stars, and while the results are surprisingly great – some significant shortcomings stop the game from soaring to the heights that it can.

Set against the backdrop of a fantastical empire that’s heavily inspired by the likes of Greek and Roman mythologies, you take on the role of Hilda – a young, impressionable, but fierce warrior of the Northwind Legion who has been sent on a mission to find her father’s missing battalion. We also learn that Hilda’s king has been inflicted with a foreign curse – and now it falls upon the brave warriors of that legion to travel to faraway lands in a frantic search for a cure.

"Set against the backdrop of a fantastical empire that’s heavily inspired by the likes of Greek and Roman mythologies, you take on the role of Hilda – a young, impressionable, but fierce warrior of the Northwind Legion who has been sent on a mission to find her father’s missing battalion. "

This leads Hilda and her father’s battalion to the town of Aphes, where the same curse has turned the denizens into goblins and beasts who crave Stardust – where you meet a bunch of characters and delve deeper into conspiracies that date back thousands upon thousands of years. The story can start out slow, and while it tries to go off towards many different tangents and explore themes of love, empathy, and betrayals – they all end up mixing together in such a way that doesn’t let any particular element shine as bright as it could, and the plot becomes bloated with a lot of unnecessary stuff and technical details that’s doesn’t add anything to the experience.

The characters are pretty distinct, and many have their own quirks and likable personalities – which is a great change of pace from the general Soulslike formula where everyone is on the brink of descending into madness and must talk in riddles. For instance, the blacksmith in this game is a cute talking fox, who calls you as her sweetie and reassures you on every decision you make (I don’t remember the last time I had such a supportive blacksmith in any Soulslike game). But the dialogues are extremely long and filled with uninteresting details and bland writing, which makes getting through the conversations an absolute slog at times.

The game also features story choices that will affect your character relationships and the surroundings. An early game choice allowed me to negotiate a deal with the boss character, but in failing to do so – I had to fight the beast which made me look like a careless killer in the eyes of my companions. As such, I tried to stick close to the moral path for future levels – though I didn’t make any such significant decisions later on. It’s a decent system, though players might need to do multiple playthroughs to see how decisions end up affecting the storyline.

Asterigos

" The dialogues are extremely long and filled with uninteresting details and bland writing, which makes getting through the conversations an absolute slog at times. "

Once you are done with the expositions and introductions, Asterigos puts you into the deep end with its combat. I like to term Asterigos’ combat system as a soulslite, since its gameplay is a lot more forgiving in terms of difficulty than your average Soulslike – at least on the normal difficulty; and yes there are difficulty options. While you will have to master the careful dance of dodges, blocks, and strikes to get through encounters – you don’t need to pay a lot of attention to the stamina meter since that only depletes by a certain amount when blocking a strike. Enemies are also pretty forgiving, and while there are plenty of enemy types – none of them require radically different strategies to defeat. Even if you die during combat or exploration, none of your collected resources are lost – but you are teleported back to your last visited Conduit – which are Asterigos’ equivalent of bonfires.

Hilda can wield two types of weapons at the same time – and you can choose from a handful of options such as a sword and shield combo, a heavy hammer, a pair of daggers, a staff, and a spear. Each allows for a slightly different playstyle, but I stuck with the sword and shield combo for the vast majority of the runtime alongside the hammer for the occasional heavy attack. Each weapon is fun to use, and resources for upgrading these weapons are plentiful – so are unlikely to find yourself dishing out belittling damage to your adversaries. Furthermore, you also have additional special moves that can be activated through the use of triggers alongside the ability to switch elemental buffs mid-fight.

Asterigos

"I like to term Asterigos’ combat system as a soulslite, since its gameplay is a lot more forgiving in terms of difficulty than your average Soulslike – at least on the normal difficulty; and yes there are difficulty options."

Another interesting aspect about the combat system is the progression. As you get through the game, you earn XP which provides you with Attribute and Talent points. The attribute points will go towards increasing your character stats such as HP and damage, while the talent points can be cashed in to unlock special skills for your character from the skill tree. Apart from that, the tree also features perks, which provide some gameplay benefit at the cost of a disadvantage. For instance, a perk might increase the effectiveness of your health potions – but in turn, your potion carrying capacity decreases by 4. You can change your perk loadout or unequip them on the fly, so you can customize your character build depending on the situation at hand. While I didn’t need to fiddle with these systems all that much on the normal difficulty, your mileage could vary for higher difficulties.

Where Asterigos sticks closely to the Soulslike formula is in its exploration department. You start from a Shelter, where you make your way to different levels which range from a ghosted bazaar to a trap-infested mine to high-walled forts, each of which is a large space that loops around itself. There are very few checkpoints on every map, so it becomes essential to search every nook and cranny in search of shortcuts like elevators or locked doors so that subsequent journeys become a lot easier. Of course, going off the beaten path also rewards you with more crafting materials or consumables – that can make these detours worthwhile.

Each of these levels also features some NPCs, which will give out simple side-quests involving fetching something for somebody or finding a hidden item somewhere on the map – which as you can guess, aren’t all that interesting. At the end of a level, you are greeted with a boss fight – and while some of them can be fairly challenging, they are pretty forgettable for the most part.

Asterigos

"While the game was reviewed on PlayStation 5 hardware, the system would not let me download the PS5 version of the game for some reason, so after multiple failed attempts – I had to make do with the PS4 version. "

Asterigos has some promising aspects when it comes to gameplay, but the game feels sorely lacking in the technical department. The game looks pretty bland with lifeless textures and painfully low draw distances, and the animations aren’t as smooth as I’d have liked. Enemy AI also has a tendency to glitch out, and there were many instances when some enemies wouldn’t react to my presence at all among other things.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars could have been an excellent feel-good soulslike, but for that to happen – the story aspect really needed to hit home with its themes and writing. Acme Gamestudio has crafted a simple but highly customizable combat system along with enticing exploration, but those promising aspects are let down by plenty of technical problems as well. All in all, it’s a decent experience, but one that could end up being amazing if re-iterated upon.

The PS4 version of the game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5 through backwards compatibility. 


THE GOOD

Simple yet effective combat loop; great exploration; decent boss fights.

THE BAD

Bland visual presentation with lifeless textures and low draw distance; uninteresting writing.

Final Verdict:
GOOD
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a decent action RPG with a beginner-friendly take on the Souls formula, but noticeable shortcomings stop it from being as great as it could be.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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