Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a promising (albeit unpolished) mythic fantasy action RPG
As someone who loves the fusion of classic myth and epic fantasy, and who consistently recommends “shows with a strong female lead” from Netflix, Asterigos: Curse of the Stars caught my eye when it was announced last fall. I was recently sent a demo build of an early segment, and while it might not be as polished as it could be at this point, I definitely put my controller away to see how this fantastical adventure of a combination of Greek and Roman mythology will come together.
Asterigos casts you as Hilda, a warrior of the Northwind Legion investigating the ancient city of Aphes in search of her missing father and his long-buried secrets. The city is said to have been cursed by the gods for its careless overuse of the world’s magic – which Hilda herself seems to use, although it’s unclear if this is common to her people or she’s just Extra Special™ – and the once-great one Ruin is now full of dangerous beasts and monsters. I haven’t come across anything quite as compelling as some shown in trailers, although the Pixar-esque design aesthetic (reminiscent of Blizzard’s cinematic style or recent mythical adventures like Immortals: Fenyx Rising and Kena: Bridge of Spirits) actually made a difference “big alligator” or “giant pig” reduced, interesting creatures to face off against.
I initially thought Asterigos presented itself as a family-friendly FromSoft homage. You collect “Startdust” from each enemy you defeat, and when the initial movement tutorials faded off-screen, the next big lesson was how to rest at a conduit (basically a “magic fountain”) to create a checkpoint and replenish your HP and mana reserve – but this would respawn any enemies you’ve defeated since your last rest. You’ll also respawn there (for the cost of some Stardust you’ve collected) when your HP drops to zero – an “emergency teleportation” as they call it, to make sure you’re totally lucid not have died.
However, that’s about as far as the KidSouls gimmick goes it seems. Yes, dodge rolls are important, and taking one enemy at a time to avoid running out of health seemed like the best strategy, but aside from the last boss I encountered, it was hard to pick me up again to send there final checkpoint – although that seemed to be demo specific as a “This guy killed you – thanks for playing!” card popped up and the demo ended. The harder difficulty mode felt distinctly different, with easy enemies introducing new tactics and boss creatures definitely hitting a lot harder – although even here defeat was rare. That’s not a bad thing, of course; As someone who barely made it out of Limgrave in Elden Ring, I’ll be the last to say that a game has to be difficult to be fun.
As such, Asterigos’ combat system is relatively simple but enjoyable: you can equip two magic weapons, each with a unique ability in addition to their basic attack combo. For example, the Sword and Shield – which count as one weapon – allows you to parry incoming attacks and momentarily leave your opponent open to a counterattack, while the Twin Daggers let you charge long past (or sometimes through) nearby enemies. My favorite combo for most of my demo was the sword/shield combined with the extended range of a spear – although I discovered too late how useful Hilda’s bracers were, allowing for not only short- and medium-range magic attacks, but also Lassen They drop arcane landmines, which were particularly useful for dealing with mostly melee-centric monsters that inhabited these regions.
The biggest hurdle to overcome during the roughly half-hour period it took to search every nook and cranny of the demo’s two regions were the controls. While not inherently terrible, there were definitely some choices that made taking Hilda around the world a bit unwieldy. Not being able to jump without holding Run and having those two keys under the same finger, for example, made fluid exploration difficult, and opening a radial menu before one of Hilda’s unique abilities can be used causes stutter the flow of battle.
This clunkiness got better as I became more comfortable with the controls, but never quite went away. However, the abilities themselves seem to offer a variety of options – the demo powers ranged from simply “delivering a bigger blow” to creating a temporary shield around yourself to absorb damage, or creating an arcane thunderstorm that enemies pursued to deal damage over time, and trailers have seemingly shown even more intricate maneuvers – meaning players of all fighting styles should have plenty of tactical options.
We didn’t get a full picture of the progression system, but it appears to be a mix of fairly standard action RPG conventions. They have your RPG-style attribute points (Precision, Constitution, and Arcana, which determine your attack damage, HP and stamina pool, and magic power/defense, respectively) or passive perks that you unlock as you level up alongside these weapon skills, and can Collect equippable trinkets with different resistances/vulnerabilities around the world. While I couldn’t relate to the thousands of Stardust points I didn’t spend on emergency teleportation, I was told that it will become valuable currency once you get further into the world.
Yes, it’s still a bit rough around the edges – with some choppy animation and unsynchronized dialogue – but overall I’m excited to see how the full version of Asterigon comes together. Chances are my button layout issues will be resolved once we’re able to configure our own controllers, and hopefully the story and ongoing action will be as compelling as the novel art style. Its Greco-Roman mythical fantasy atmosphere is one I can easily get lost in, and I’m always willing to tinker with a litany of tactical options to hone them Just the right build for my arcane warmaiden in an ultimately promising if simple combat system.
Follow us for more on Asterigos: Curse of the Stars as we get closer to its planned fall 2022 launch window, and for other animated mythical fantasy adventures (and series titles) read our reviews of Immortals: Fenyx Rising or Kena : Bridge of Spirits.
JR is Senior Producer at IGN, you can follow him on twitter for more video games and tabletop RPG shenanigans.
https://www.ign.com/articles/asterigos-gameplay-impressions-curse-of-the-stars-hands-on Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a promising (albeit unpolished) mythic fantasy action RPG