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September 27th, 2021, 19:29
RPGFan checked out the turn-based RPG Astria Ascending:

Astria Ascending

Artisan Studios may not be the most recognizable name. But the names Kazushige Nojima (writer of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, Kingdom Hearts) and Hitoshi Sakimoto (composer for FF Tactics, FFXII, Vagrant Story, everything Ivalice) should make any classic JRPG fan's ears should perk up. In Astria Ascending, two RPG legends have tried something a little different, working with a newer, smaller studio. But does their magic rub off on this new adventure?

Nojima loves to write characters who are destined to sacrifice themselves for the sake of saving the world. Well, Astria Ascending has eight of them. On the continent of Orcanon, the Demi-gods are the heroes chosen to protect the central city of Harmonia and Goddess Yuno from the Noises threatening to drag the city down into chaos. Because no good deed may go unpunished, the Demi-gods are "rewarded" with a three-year countdown to death or "ascension." As this story begins, the heroes' estimated time to departure is down to three months

[…]

Of course, I can't neglect J-Ster, the token-laying game played on a hexagonal grid that spurs memories of Final Fantasy card games past. Collecting the tokens by defeating enemies is a decent spin on the typical card-collection minigame. The game involves trying to flip enemy tokens to your color to have the most tokens by the time all of them are laid down. But challenges between tokens involve a convoluted points system that I never got the hang of, putting it closer to Tetra Master than Triple Triad. The writers couldn't help throwing in a silly, not-at-all subtle reference to those earlier games. There's also a simple Gradius-style side-scrolling shooter minigame featuring Fedorah, but the less said about it, the better. It doesn't appear until later, but it's irritating when you must complete a level of the shooter to advance to some areas of the map.

Ultimately, Astria Ascending is as flawed as it is fascinating. It has its moments, but the story is uneven, the dialogue is rough, and the combat is fine, but it doesn't do enough to stand out in a crowded genre. It hurts to say that, as at some points, the story feels like one that needs to be heard, and there are some parts that I won't soon forget. As the satellite falls to Earth, it mostly burns up on re-entry, but there is a painful beauty to it all while it lasts.

Score: 76/100
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