Asterigos: Curse Of The Stars Preview
Asterigos Curse Of The Stars is what happens when ambition and hard work pays off as oftentimes we shoot for the stars, it's a great feeling when it hits its mark. Of the massive catalog that tinyBuild has in store for the remainder of 2022, Asterigos is one of its star pupils. I swear the "stars" puns are non-intentional but it doesn't begin to describe how I felt playing the game. I've first seen the game at PAX East, as I have with several other tinyBuild games. Unfortunately, much like Tinykin, I hadn't had the chance to play the game. Also, like Tinykin, I wish I had played it back then because it's an amazing title.
Its story is inspired by various Greek and Roman mythologies, including werewolves, harpies, and of course, curses. The Asterigos is a curse that is affecting the population of Aphes. After catching wind about her father's whereabouts, Hilda descends from the North to find the state of the cursed city firsthand. Gifted with the power to handle magic, she aligns herself with several allies to search for her father as well as uncover her legacy.
The company she aligns herself with are "godly figures" who are just as intrigued with Hilda's capabilities as she is with finding out the state of the world. Up until this point, the only thing Hilda knew was how to become a warrior. Hilda is a prideful young woman who feels as if she must prove her strength to anyone and everyone. Early on, there is dialogue from an elder who quests why Hilda would "take up the sword" instead of "wearing a dress." Her response is as you'd expect, as Hilda's heroism is admirable, as well as the "foolish hero" trait.
Before all of this, though, Hilda ventures through a jungle where she fights the local enemies (who have stolen her weapons). Combat in Asterigos reminded me of another light-hearted Greek-inspired action RPG, Immortals Fenyx Rising. Having re-read my thoughts about Fenyx and comparing it to how I felt playing Asterigos, I feel like the former was to "Breath of the Wild" as the latter is to a "Souls-like." Calling it "Souls-like" is unfair as it takes as little of that formula as possible. If anything, Asterigos reminded me of the Fable series, specifically the older titles.
There are "bonfires" to rest and save your progress, but there are also save slots that players can save at any time. While their character progression isn't lost, players will be sent back to the last checkpoint they come across. Perhaps a major difference is that death doesn't cause the player to lose their leveling progress. Hida gains levels naturally as she defeats enemies, so even in death, the player doesn't lose their gained EXP. This is for the best as the number of abilities Hilda learns is massive.
In the beginning of the game, Hilda has access to a Sword & Shield, Hammer, Staff, Spear, Daggers, and a pair of Bracelets. Hilda can equip up to two weapons at once, each weapon behaving differently from the last. The Sword & Shield weapons use a standard sword move set with the ability to block attacks with a shield at the cost of AP. The Hammer is the game's "big girl" class, having the highest physical damage and the ability to maintain poise. Staffs are the "Magic" class and will be the primary weapon for long-range battles. The staff can also be used to fire at targets hanging from above, usually containing items within the bags.
Daggers are the fastest class, giving the player the ability to dash faster and farther than Elden Ring's Quick Step. Finally, the Bracelets, as shown in our Featured Image, are the most interesting weapons of Hilda's loadout. Attached to her wrist, Hilda becomes an astralbender, as she throws the power of stars at her enemies like Aang throwing wind himself. The bracelets can also deploy landmines that can cut off pursuers and even summon spirit swords (and scythes later on).
What's even cooler about the bracelets and the staff is that depending on the element, their attack pattern change. Aside from "astral," there are elements including ice and fire, that change the appearance of the weapons and the type of magic that comes from bracelets and staffs. Having seen a similar alteration to my attacks in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, I love the attention to detail given to each move. The various combinations make each playthrough unique. Currently, I'm using Bracelets and Staff as the long-range capability helps a ton. I sometimes swap my Staff for a Spear because the Spear's ability to parry is powerful in the early game.
The skill tree is just as huge, with each "branch" focusing on a weapon discipline alongside its unique skills. There are tons of overlap, as the ability to increase your poise from the "Hammer" section may help land critical combos using your bracelets. Asterigos' combat is its shining moment. Just be careful not to lose your hard-earned stardust by dying as even though the level is tied to monster exp, stardust is used for item purchases and upgrades. Hilda can alternate her weapon attacks in between combo strings, much like linking a normal into a heavy attack in a Musou-style game.
Using my Bracelets/Staff as an example, I can control the flow of combat at any time by using my Bracelets to combo attack at close range. If I feel my enemy is preparing a counterattack, I weave it with my Staff's "heavy" attack, which pushes me back a safe distance. This allows me to weave my staff attacks as I now attack from a safe distance until the gap closes. Then I switch back to bracelets, stunning my opponent, and continuing the combo. There are many combinations yet to be discovered and while there isn't a perfect combination, there's always a combination right for the player themselves.
As of right now, there is still plenty of gameplay left for me to explore in Asterigos Curse Of The Stars. I've neglected to mention the story in great detail as that will be saved for the review itself. However, without spoiling too much I'm interested in seeing the protagonist learning the difference between being a 'hero' and being a 'fighter.'
Sometimes, brute forcing your problems isn't the right answer and other times it is. There are those who may not agree with your choices and others who will admire your bravery. In turn, Hilda's quest to find her father is also a quest of self-improvement, knowing what's best for the powerless versus what's best for herself.
Expect a full fleshed out review upon the game's official release on October 11th! For now, the playable demo Asterigos Curse Of The Stars and the opportunity to wishlist is now available on the official Steam page here.