Home » Astria Ascending – Early Access Preview

Astria Ascending – Early Access Preview

A 2D traditional turn-based RPG with slight platforming elements comes to life in this beautifully drawn story of 8 Demi-gods who attempt to save the world using zodiac powers on borrowed time.

Astria Ascending is a AAA title in terms of development team members alone.

The beautiful orchard of Harmonia.

Kazushige Nojima, a longtime former Square-Enix member who directed Bahamut Lagoon, a Squaresoft classic for the SFC/SNES. He was co-scenario writer of Final Fantasy VII, scenario writer of Final Fantasy VIII, co-scenario writer of Kingdom Hearts, co-scenario writer of Final Fantasy X and x-2, and story/scenario writer for the Final Fantasy VII remake. And that is not even the complete list of his works.

Hitoshi Sakimoto, also a one-time former Square-Enix member who is the video game composer or co-composer with masterpiece level quality of music on games such classics as Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story, and the Valkyria Chronicles franchise. Again, there is plenty more beautifully done by him, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here he also acts as director.

Akihiko Yoshida, a fantastic artist also at one time part of the Square-Enix staff. He has beautifully drawn characters for such games as Tactic Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Bravely Default, Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story, and Nier: Automata. Again, there is plenty more great work on his resume.

Let’s dive into the world in which Astria Ascending takes place called Orcanon. As I always state, the developers can say it best. The intro proceeds as following:

“This is the orchard of Harmonia. The Migmies grow the Harmelon; the Zefts strut along the Zeft Heights; the Awisis twitter among the Awisi Woods; the Arktans roar through the Arktan Valley; and the Peyskas boast of their Peyska Spring. The Meryos reside within the United Town suburbs. In town, they all come together in Harmony. The Demi-gods protect everyone.

Using zodiac powers that enrich both the mind and body, they fight to protect the Harmony from the Noises. The chosen ones battle the bringers of chaos for three years before leaving our world. Many parents tell their children that the Demi-gods go on to play among the stars.

But even children know the truth: to obtain zodiac powers, a Demi-god must pay with their life. They receive three years of glory. Then they die, leaving their families greatly compensated and the most wonderful gift of all: Harmony. And so we grow up in fear, knowing that one day we might too be selected for greatness.”

The Awisis make up one of several races in the land of Harmonia.

The place where the game starts is in Harmonia. There are several individual races in which the game comprises of. Migmies are small flying creatures that wear a jester-like mask. The Zefts are armor-wearing almost dragonlike creatures metamorphosed into human form much like Bangaas from Final Fantasy XII. The Awisis are harpy-like creatures as shown in the screenshot above. Arktans are lion-like creatures similar to male Beast laguz from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. The Peyskas are small aquatic creatures that require a helmet bubble composed of water to breathe.

Let’s meet the 8 Demi-gods chosen to save the world:

Ulan Merer is the leader of the group and who the player starts off controlling as in the game.

Ulan Merer: The leader of the 333rd Demi-Gods. (Side note: I don’t know if there is any correlation but the number 333 is associated with divine guidance according to the Christian Bible.)

Alek Reogan: A soldier like Ulan who prefers the approach that makes the most sense. Has a good-spirited relationship with Ulan when it comes to wanting to be leader.

Alassia Malvado: a summoner who is married to Arpajo, another Demi-God.

Dagmar Udasse: An Arktan who despite appearances is more like a red mage from Final Fantasy rather than a brute fighter.

Kress Cizel: A calm Zeft who prioritizes her family above all else.

Arpajo Malvado: Alassia’s husband who is a jokester and a thief.

Eko Livelino: A healer Peyska who is the youngest of the group and doesn’t like being treated as such.

With the stage set, let’s dive into the gameplay:

It is 2.5D and veteran video-game players might compare it how it looks like old classics like Valkryie Profile and Odin Sphere. You only can move horizontally although paths and doors alike are indicated vertically. You can jump which will be needed because the game has a lot of platform elements like in the two games above. You also can shoot using something called a Zodiac Ring and is similar to Tales of Symphonia as it can activate mechanisms and stun enemies.

Here are some platforming elements the game presents to you very early. It is simple enough and yet adds a dimension of gameplay. There are pitfalls but they just return you to where you were and do not accrue any damage.
Treasure is acquired via the huge footlockers as shown above. Search everywhere and make your RPG life a little easier.
Astria Ascending implements a train system that acts as sort of a fast travel mechanism for the game’s main hub. initially. Later, portals appear as well in towns and dungeons.

Battles are symbol-based encountered by either touching the enemy or slashing the enemy in hopes of gathering a preemptive strike. Enemies can also be jumped over if skillfully done.

The Demi-Gods prepare for battle. Enemies in this game are called “Noise” and the blue sphere is the icon to indicate them.
A battle screen with four Demi-gods you can choose to fight. The lower icons are as follows from left to right:

Attack: Deals physical damage in which a successful attack depends on the target’s evasion.

Abilities: Use abilities learned from each character. They can be unlocked via the Ascension Tree.

Guard: Reduce physical and magic damage by 1/5.

Focus: Adds temporary focus points that can be toggled to increase the power of an attack. Each focus point adds +50% and is indicated by the four icons in-between “LB” and “RB” in the screenshot. (Buttons may vary depending on system.) Hitting an enemy with its weakness rewards the player focus points while hitting it with something it will absorb by taking them away.

Items: Use items in your inventory.

Switch characters: Switch any amount of characters in the battle. The person using this command has their turn ended upon successful confirmation.

Flee: Escape battle but not always available.

Upon completion of a successful battle, the rewards are listed in the lower right. Lums are the game’s currency. Experience is self-explanatory and levels up the characters, and SP is for learning abilities from the Ascension tree. Notice the information in the top-right. Main quest and side-quest objectives will be listed there and can be brought anytime not in battle by using the right analog button although configurations and buttons may vary.
Your active party of four will be the first four in line. Reserves are ones shaded in gray. Just select and switch to choose a party to your liking.
This is the Ascension Tree for Ulan’s base job of Captain although to my eyes it kind of looks more like a constellation of her shield and weapon. Abilities need SP and sometimes a stat orb which increases certain stats when learning an ability before they can be learned via the menu here.
Side-quest information is detailed via the menu option. Initiating side-quests usually involves talking to a NPC with a special ‘!’ above them instead of the normal “…”
Standard equipment options for an RPG. Examine elemental and status resistances should you need to as they are an important part of this game.
Here is the option to view the map of the dungeon. Each screen acts as a rectangle and will have a path showing where it leads if it leads anywhere. Map completion is also shown to see if you can visit or explore any more places in the area. As a side note, you automatically heal HP/MP in towns but only HP in dungeons.
The game offers various mini-games for a change of pace you along the way should you get bored with battling for a while. One game involves tokens and is called J-Ster. When there is an NPC and you can play with them, an option will show up along with the dialogue option.
A journal showing how much of what you have completed comes in handy for completionists.
Be sure to check out the settings for the game especially field and battle settings. Tinker with each to adjust the game to your liking.

MUSIC:

Hitoshi Sakimoto hardly ever disappoints if he has ever disappointed at all when composing music for video games. Here is no exception. The music is right for environment and sets the tone for the game with its lovely tracks.

OVERALL:

Astria Ascending has the vibe of Valkyrie Profile, Odin Sphere, and Final Fantasy XII all rolled into one. Its simple yet different enough turn-based battle system combined with its beautiful music and gorgeous art make this very appealing to classic fans and should look interesting enough to newcomers try it out. The demo obviously wasn’t enough to finish the story of Astria Ascending. Barring unpopular decisions plot-wise, this should be a great game.

Written by
Been playing games basically since before I could read and not just RPGs | Love the arts | Love a good story |

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