Asterigos: Curse Of The Stars

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: tinyBuild
Developer: Acme Gamestudio
Release Date: Oct. 11, 2022


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'Asterigos: Curse of the Stars'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 14, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Asterigos is a 3D action RPG set in a high fantasy world, featuring exhilarating battle encounters, interconnected maps full of adventure for you to explore and an immersive story.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars follows the story of Hilda, a young warrior who lives in what amounts to a Greek fantasy world. She travels to the cursed city of Aphes in search of her father and his fellow soldiers, all of whom went missing. Sneaking into the city, she discovers a strange world of magic ruled by a tyrant. That tyrant has also enslaved her father and his men. Of course, it's Hilda's job to rescue her father and save the land.

Asterigos might be the latest in the "everything is terrible" style of stories, but it manages to avoid a lot of the tropes of the genre. The city isn't thriving, but at least it's alive, and you'll encounter a fair number of people who respond to your action. You don't feel like everyone is just waiting to die. However, kill the wrong person or do the wrong thing, and the game remembers it, and characters respond appropriately. It isn't quite New Vegas, but it helps the land feel more fleshed out.

At first glance, you'll probably think, as I did, that Asterigos is another in the crowded line of Soulsborne games. You've got all the basics, including bonfires, stamina-based combat, and the general feel of movement. In this case, the similarities are mostly skin-deep. Yes, there's some Souls in the DNA, but it doesn't really feel like that genre. It is less punishing in general. Death returns you to a bonfire, but you really don't lose anything significant. You can save in multiple slots. Stamina loss is a lot less significant than it might be and largely prevents you from using moves for an extremely short time.

Hilda begins the game with the weapons she'll have available to her. Each weapon represents a different fighting style. Sword and Shield allow for fast melee combat and lets you block attacks. Spear is more aggressive than Sword and Shield, and it swaps its block for a timed parry mechanic instead. Hammer is big and brutish, giving up defense in exchange for powerful charge attacks. Daggers are fast and fluid and allow you to do a special dodge move with a ton of frames. Magic Bracelets can transform into different weapons and plant magical landmines. Staff allows you to fight from a distance and can even become a sort of magical sniper rifle.

Each weapon also has a set of learnable skills. Some are active, and some are passive. The game's skill tree is gigantic, with multiple different traits for every weapon. Active traits are special skills unique to the weapon. These can include special attacks but also defensive skills, such as the Shield having a barrier spell that nullifies attacks for a short while. These skills use AP, a resource that is built up by attacking, so they're not exactly fire-and-forget, but can still be used throughout combat rather than needing to be carefully rationed.

Passive skills can have either major or minor influences on a weapon's abilities. Some are simple, such as giving the Spear an expanded parry window. Others are more complex, such as giving the Magic Bracelets new forms to transform into. There are also equippable Perks, which usually have pluses and minuses. For example, an early one lets you use healing potions in combat much more quickly but limits how many you can carry at a time. You can mix and match these various attributes to assure that even weapons in the same tree won't necessarily have the same build.

What makes this distinct is that you can equip any two weapons at once, gaining access to both of their skill sets and allowing you to chain attacks. This lets you instantly swap between fighting styles. The flexibility of the two-weapon fighting style gives Asterigos a pretty cool and distinctive feeling. Each weapon has its own unique gimmick, and being able to mix and match means you can build a fighting style of your choice. As an example, Sword and Shield plus Spear lets you get way up in melee combat, so you can block and parry most oncoming attacks without trouble. Bracelets plus Staff let you fight at a distance, using magical land mines and ranged blasts to keep enemies at a distance. I favored Shield and Staff. Staff allowed me to blast enemies from a distance, and if they closed in, I could quickly pull up my shield to lessen the damage.

The game allows you to customize based on the challenges you're facing, since the punishment for "swapping" weapons is a slightly reduced list of abilities. If you're facing a humanoid foe that specializes in melee attacks, a spear might be better than a hammer. Something big, brutish and slow deserves some hammer time, though.

Combat also falls into that area where it is almost — but not quiteSoulsborne style. Enemies can be brutal and attack quickly, and fighting multiple foes at once is dangerous. Enemies have rather distinct and often colorful attack patterns, and there is a whole lot of generosity when it comes to healing items and defensive tools. If you button-mash, you'll probably die, but if you don't, the title feels like a solid action-RPG rather than something more punishing.

Unfortunately, an element of Asterigos that I found to be disappointing was the general act of exploration. There's some exploring to do, but the general level layout is fairly linear. There are items off the beaten trail, including plot and characters you might otherwise miss. Hilda feels a bit stiff when it comes to climbing and especially when jumping. You need to awkwardly hold run and dodge at the same time to jump, which feels dated when even Elden Ring lets you hop around freely. It made venturing off the beaten path a bit less fun because things felt awkward.

Overall, there's a fair bit of fun to be had in Asterigos, and if anything, its Soulsborne first glance doesn't do it justice. It's a more player-friendly sort of game, and it reminds me more of older action-RPGs like Fable. It's very easy to see Asterigos appealing to people who otherwise find Soulsborne games completely unplayable because it doesn't feel like it. I recently called Steel Rising a good intro into the Soulsborne genre, but Asterigos is rather the opposite: an example of a game that can be inspired by Soulsborne without being one.

Part of this is probably due to the strong and colorful art design. The cartoonish visuals remind me again of Fable or Ubisoft's Fenix Rising. The visuals are exaggerated and colorful, and everything pops. The Greco-Roman environments shine, and I just enjoyed exploring the world. Sure, it's another ruined society dominated by a mysterious plague and terrible beasts, but it's so darn cheerful-looking that it doesn't feel like it. The voice acting is also largely quite good, and the characters manage to pull off both serious and funny bits well.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is just plain fun. It's a solid, enjoyable and well put-together action-adventure game where my biggest complaints are largely nitpicks and a few qualms about the exploration. Sure, you can point to various things it was inspired by, but it manages to stand out on its own merits, and it's an enjoyable experience. The distinct art style and combat help it define itself, and the story is engaging enough to keep you interested. It's well worth a look if the concept remotely interests you.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about Asterigos: Curse Of The Stars
blog comments powered by Disqus