Standing as their first-ever title produced, Acme Gamestudio delved into the Soulslike genre that is beloved among many fans. Not only have they made a promising start, but they’ve hit the ground running with a great balanced experience. Akin to Sloclap who produced Sifu, their developers have given gamers another reason to keep their tabs open on the indie game genre.
This unique title manages to produce surprises in multiple areas. It also manages to maintain a balanced and more adjustable journey for those who struggle with titles of its genre. Fans who were expecting a pleasant experience with this title will almost certainly get one.
Asterigos: Curse Of The Stars is available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox for $34.99.
Story – Asterigos Evolves After Each Journey
Whilst the story within this title is simple and straightforward, it manages to gradually improve throughout the game. You play as Hilda, a Northland Legion warrior in the attempt to find her mission-engaged father and uncover the mysteries of the cursed land of Aphes in the meantime. Throughout the journey, you will encounter a variety of monsters to take on and unique boss battles to face.
As each one of these encounters unfolds, discovering the truth edges closer as to why and how the city has been cursed.
The issues with the story lie more particularly with its exposition. You will have a heavy reliance on items called ‘Echos’ that provide context to events in each region.
Aside from the main plot points of Hilda searching for the rest of her comrades, a lot of the dialogue fell flat whenever it wandered off into unimportant matters to the mission. The audio issues mainly the soundtrack playing over important conversations, left me disengaged amid dialogue.
At first given the lack of context or understanding surrounding what was occurring early on in the story, my interest levels were low. This was mostly due to the abrupt start with just one short cutscene for the story. Fortunately, the pacing began to pick up as I edged toward the latter stages which delve much deeper into the lore.
I appreciated some portions of the tale as this is a much more narrative-driven and focused Soulslike title. Hilda’s investigation and passion for helping Adherents and the rest of the cursed people in Aphes continued to grow.
Without spoiling too much, after defeating each boss I felt an extra level of motivation to quickly locate the next one to find answers to a lot of questions.
Gameplay – Pack Of Treats To Unload
This right here is where Asterigos shines brightest. With all the other more hardcore and unforgiving Soulslike titles I have played, this is one of the most stylish, flashy, and smooth combat featured out of all, coming closer to the likes of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Given its hack-and-slash roots, Capcom‘s Devil May Cry 5 would pop up in my mind every time I would take on a horde of enemies, which comes down to the animations with each weapon.
These weapons range from a spear, battle hammer, the sword and shield, daggers, staff, and the enchanted bracelets. Leveling each of these up in the ‘Shelter’ will give you access to an additional string of attacks, that can also provide an extra edge in combat. This is crucial to keeping up with enemies and their strength, as the more you progress, the stronger foes you will encounter just like all the other Souls games.
What makes this even greater is the inclusion of elements ranging from fire, ice, thunder, and more. These will all apply to whichever weapon you decide to use, getting stronger as you upgrade them. Developers did a fantastic job of adding this in, as it will give you the flexibility of deciding which element is best to use against the range of enemies.
For a longer-lasting attack on enemies, I would always opt for the ice element whilst taking the time to maneuver around enemies and dodge incoming attacks.
If you want to feel like an Avatar: The Last Airbender character, the bracelets will do just that with the sleek and impressive move sets it maintains.
If you want to feel nimble and light on your feet, the daggers will be the way to go.
If the range of weapons and their unique animation attack sets are not enough, the implementation of perks and skills for each does this justice. I found myself ingrained and immersed in this title, actively seeking more battles with enemies trying to level up further at the prospect of unlocking these perks via talent points. The great thing is, it is not imperative to have the exact weapon of its perk equipped, as this can be used at any time so long as you have enough ‘Stardust’ built up. This will allow you to form your own unique combos suited to your specific build.
Each time you level up, you will be able to upgrade Hilda’s attributes from more damage, more HP, and much more. Whilst this may not be as deep and complex as Elden Ring, it serves its purpose by remaining more simple and easier to keep track of.
Soulslike Features & Difficulty:
Acme Gamestudio has given players who find most Souls games incredibly difficult, an alternative route in the gameplay experience. The game contains three different difficulty settings in Story, Adventure, and Challenging. I managed to test all three of these with some of the most frustrating enemies and bosses Hilda encounters. If you wish to opt for more of a fun and casual experience, the Story and potentially the Adventure difficulties are certainly the way to go. Whilst all difficulties still contain a decent amount of adversity for players, they are no comparison to Challenging which is more suitable for veterans.
Similar to its fellow titles, every single hit from an enemy counts and if you are not appropriately leveled or equipped for combat, it will be detrimental to survival. At times I found myself overwhelmed with how many enemies were after me at once, who were relentless in their pursuit. Using your perks and attacks wisely is crucial to success in battle, as wasting ‘Stardust’ will leave you on the edge of your seat in the attempt of coming out alive.
In terms of its Soulslike features, this very much contains the same respawning system. In this case, you will spawn at different Conduits you find throughout Aphes. Enemies will respawn each time you rest at these checkpoints, which often led to me running through crowds of enemies I had already beaten avoiding another frustrating battle.
Graphics & Audio – Fulfills Its Purpose:
The city of Aphes and the landscape of every region has a magnificent look. I played with a 3080ti which allowed me to run the game at max settings. Despite a few frame rate drops every now and then, the performance remained consistent. The art style is closest to Immortals Fenyx Rising and due to each region in the city having its own unique setting, it is a joy to look at.
Considering the major issues with FromSoftware’s PC ports such as Elden Ring, Acme Gamestudio deserves praise in this region. This may come down to the matter of the huge difference in graphical prowess between the two titles, which is why the art style here is plausible.
Aside from the issue of the soundtrack being much louder than the dialogue which can certainly be fixed through a patch, the soundtrack itself is fantastic. Each boss battle comes with its own level of intensity, and every soundtrack that plays fits each of them. Every Souls game is known for its special soundtracks that are epic and set the tone, and Acme Gamestudio has done just that in this case.
Some of the audio in terms of attacks and enemy sounds can be improved to match more of an authentic feel, but this could be related to the art style. With titles such as Immortals Fenyx Rising and Sifu as previously mentioned, they have an art style much more aligned to one of a cartoon and less life-like which would explain the style of audio. This is the same in this circumstance but does not impact the experience too much to spoil it.