Astria Ascending, we tried a classic JRPG for Final Fantasy fans

Astria Ascending, we tried a classic JRPG for Final Fantasy fans

Astria Ascending

Although Japanese role-playing games have changed and adapted over the years, even today several more modern productions are based on the most popular classics of the genre. One of these is Astria Ascending, a work in production by the Artisan Studio team, and made by co-developers who have worked on Final Fantasy, Nier Automata and Bravely Default. Among the best-known names, the project itself sees the collaboration of screenwriter Kazushige Nojima (Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VII Remake) and composer Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story). While waiting for the release, we had the opportunity to get a concrete idea by trying the demo of Astria Ascending first hand.


Astria Ascending takes us to a peaceful and beautiful world The world by Astria Ascending is extremely heterogeneous. In a large continent various kingdoms live in peace, each one populated by a humanoid species (small aquatic creatures, large lion men, slender feathered beings ...). At the foundation of the balance of the world is the Harmony, a power that keeps monstrous creatures away called Noise and which is protected by the Demi-Gods, champions chosen among the various populations.

The Demi-Gods they get power and money for their role, but the price they have to pay is extremely high: as a result of the investiture, they are exactly three years old before they die. The story of the eight Demi-Gods protagonists of the game begins a few months before their assignment ends, when a series of dark events threaten the entire world. The demo allowed us to try the first five hours of play, a rich appetizer of the total ones, which according to the developers will be 30 for the plot and 50 if you also dedicate yourself to the extras. It is too early to understand where the plot will go (the JRPG often reserve big surprises in the more advanced stages), but we can make some considerations on the bases laid by Nojima and the team of writers.

The cast of characters, for once, does not include a group of kids armed only with good will, but offers us a varied team of adults, from young to old. The promise of the developers is to offer a more mature experience, with numerous dialogues between the characters who already in the first hours try to convey their respective personalities and experiences. What makes the exchanges between the eight heroes interesting is their relationship: the protagonists are allies, but from their interactions it is possible to perceive how they consider themselves work colleagues rather than friends and companions. In the early stages there are slight tensions between some members, with jokes based on prejudices caused by the difference in species. It will be interesting to see if their journey to the salvation of the world will allow them to understand each other better or even create irreparable fractures.

For now, our biggest doubt about narrative sequences is rhythm. Most dialogues are slow, with long pauses between sentences. Exchanges that would normally take about ten seconds drag on for more than a minute, and the hope is that the rest of the adventure won't be as watered down as the first few hours.

Classic fights

Astria Ascending proposes a classic turn-based combat system What the demo allowed us to analyze in detail is the combat system. Astria Ascending is a classic turn-based RPG where four of the eight Demi-Gods will be played in each fight. It is unclear whether all warriors will be useful in the long run, but luckily even inactive heroes will receive all the experience, a choice that will avoid tedious grinding sessions and encourage you to experiment more with the formation of your party. It must be said that each Demi-God has unique characteristics that make it more or less useful depending on the situation, also thanks to the Job system of the characters. Each hero starts with a specific assignment and, as you advance, it is possible to customize it with three other categories (in the demo we could only add one and not for all the characters). Each category allows you to choose between three different jobs, with its own skill tree that allows you to unlock stat upgrades, new attack techniques and passive skills of various kinds. We will have to verify this in the long term, but the impression is that customization is one of the strengths of Astria Ascending.

Astria Ascending allows you to choose the character classes with great freedom The game also offers the " Cosmo Break ", a powerful move that varies from character to character and that must be activated by loading a bar: to fill the latter, the hero must act in a manner consistent with his class (a white magician must heal, a warrior must physically attack, a black mage must use elemental magic). Also, there are Focus Points: these are stacked using extremely effective moves and can be spent to increase the damage dealt by our attacks. Each point is worth + 50% to damage, for a maximum of 4 points at a time: using the right moves means you can inflict enormous damage. Between Focus Point and Cosmo Break, it is clear that Astria Ascending wants to reward the player who uses the characters correctly.

Difficulty level

Astria Ascending: the cast in one of the initial settings If getting familiar with the combat system takes a few moments, underestimating your opponents and attacking without a clear strategy quickly turns out to be a gamble. The very first stages of the game turned out to be quite simple, but after a couple of hours the difficulty level went up seriously, with some fights we survived only because we had huge quantities of healing items with us: it will be essential to adopt instead the best tactic to maximize damage against enemies.

At least in the demo, the difficulty of Astria Ascending is balanced by a few small adjustments. For example, the characters' life points are restored within a few seconds after each fight, while fast travel is always present and allows us to return to the city (where the Action Points used for spells and special attacks are also automatically healed ) or to the teleportation crystals of the dungeons. You can therefore retreat very easily and save freely at any time. We will see in the full game if the difficulty curve will remain the same and if it will be able to offer a stimulating and never dull experience for the duration of the adventure.

Astria Ascending dungeons always hide treasures Battles take place inside dungeons, two-dimensional areas divided into various sections where treasures are also hidden and some small environmental puzzles necessary for advancement. No random encounters, as enemies appear in the form of spheres of water upon which the fight starts. The dungeons, for now, did not seem particularly elaborate or interesting to explore, but there were blocked areas that could indicate the possibility of backtracking to find secrets and additional paths.

As a side note, we point out that Astria Ascending will offer various mini-games, the most important being the J-Ster, clearly inspired by the Triple Triad of Final Fantasy VIII but with some minor changes. At each turn a pawn is played (based on the monsters of the game) that has a numerical value: if the value is higher than that of the adjacent pawns, the latter become our color (there are also some modifiers that enhance or weaken the pawn in field). As in Othello, you win if there are more pieces of your color than your opponent's. For now, the mini-game has proved too simple or too difficult depending on the case, but the developers are aware of this and have already stated that they intend to balance the challenge in time for the release.

Graphics and sound

Net of some bugs and visual glitches (which the developers already know and which will be solved), Astria Ascending surprises and strikes the eye thanks to the competent artistic direction of Akihiko Yoshida and Hideo Minaba (CyDesignation). The hand-drawn 2D environments explode with color and detail, especially when the view zooms in during some movies and allows you to appreciate the smallest brushstrokes. The protagonists have bright armor and their design - in battle - changes depending on the class. The enemies are also varied and intriguing, and each dungeon offers its own monsters, giving hope for just as much care and variety in the areas we have yet to explore.

Astria Ascending is scheduled to be released on September 30th on PC, Switch, PlayStation and Xbox. It will also be available at launch on Game Pass. Japanese) generally effective.

Fans of Japanese turn-based RPGs will do well to keep an eye on Astria Ascending. Beyond the names that collaborate on the project, the work of Artisan Studio is visually enchanting, with personality, and with a combat and character enhancement system that lays a good foundation. We will have to understand if the plot will be able to hit the mark and if the difficulty will always be well balanced, but with the release of the game scheduled for September 30th on PC and consoles it is not long to find out.


Visually enchanting System of upgrades and promising battle DOUBTS To check the quality of the plot Will the difficulty level be well managed? Have you noticed any errors?

Powered by Blogger.