Our Score: 8/10
Astria Ascending is a turn-based JRPG by developer Artisan Studios that features some very unique and frankly, incredible features that not only make it stand out from your usual JRPG titles but also make it a memorable one.
With a lot of High Fantasy flavour and some remarkable artwork, Astria Ascending is here to cement itself as your favourite JRPG right now.
Story and World
Astria Ascending is a massive game that will easily give you about 50 hours of gameplay. You have the choice of picking from eight customizable characters, each from a different race and a different set of skills. And with your character and your team, you will have to sacrifice everything to save the world.
You will literally sacrifice everything because your heroes only have three years to live. That’s part of the burden of getting special powers. And it makes for very interesting character dynamics because not everybody deals with this information in the same way. With such a massive cast, the game doesn’t suffer from having “reskinned” characters. Everyone on your team feels like an actual individual with their own goals, fears, and feelings.
But what separates it from other games in this genre is its story. The story told here is quite mature thanks to it being based around adult characters. The team at Artisan Studios features accomplished developers who are veterans of the JPRG genre and have worked on games like Final Fantasy, Nier Automata, and Bravely Default. So you know the pedigree is there to tell a good story, and without spoiling much, they’ve done quite a great job.
Look and Feel
From the onset, you will notice something about Astra Ascending. And that is its art style. The artwork on display here is magnificent and absolutely breathtaking. The game features a hand-drawn 2D world that scales all the way up to 4K. I’ve been disappointed by games in the past where the art and style are brilliant but suffer from being low-resolution assets. I’m so glad that isn’t the case here.
Playing this game at 4K helped me appreciate the sheer detail of the world. It does a great job of accentuating the vibrancy of what you’re seeing on screen, which is great for player immersion.
There’s also a rich and diverse feeling to the world with the various environments and races. Thanks to that high-fantasy inspiration there are some awesome and intriguing designs that made me immediately want to know more and more about this world.
The game’s soundtrack is also top-notch thanks to the talents of Hitoshi Sakamoto. The game also features an option between English and Japanese voice-overs. I know a lot of people like to play JRPGs with the Japanese dub so this is great for those.
One of the core components is the combat system. This can elevate a JRPG from being just average. Astria Ascending does an incredible job with its combat system. Taking cues from games like Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler, the combat system allows you to store turns. This makes the anxiety of picking the right team composition not that stressful.
The game also makes backtracking and moving around less cumbersome thanks to its fast travel system. This is useful because for some reason the game doesn’t have a very descriptive quest log. There were moments where I wasn’t sure what I had to do or where I had to go. I hope this is something that can be rectified with a patch because it can be a little frustrating to not know how to progress.
Astria Ascending takes inspiration from some of the giants in the JPRG realm and yet manages to set itself apart. With its gorgeous hand-painted world, its extremely fun combat system, and some very unique storytelling, Astria Ascending is one of the best JRPGs to release this year. If you’re a fan of games like Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler, you absolutely have to get your hands on Astria Ascending, you won’t be disappointed.
Astria Ascending releases on the 30th of September on Xbox One, Series X|S, PS4, PS5, and PC. It will also be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch.