Published on September 7th, 2023 | by Nathan Misa

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars PS5 Review @Asterigos

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars PS5 Review @Asterigos Nathan Misa

Summary: A stellar debut with intriguing story, beautiful visual style and satisfying action RPG combat systems.


Stellar Debut

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars, developed by Taiwanese indie developer Acme Gamestudio, was originally a digital-only release in late 2022, but with its recent retail launch, I knew I couldn’t let this one slip by me again, even in such a year full of big-name releases.

And what a charmer Asterigos is, with colourful and distinctive visuals, a soothing musical score and solid action role-playing (RPG) combat systems and exploration that fans of adventure games will feel right at home with – and it achieves a lot with its smaller, humbler budget.




Asterigos: Curse of the Stars’ weaves an interesting enough story about a young warrior named Hilda who travels to the magical city of Aphes, a mythical Greco-Roman setting, to find her father, a Captain of the Northwind Legion. The Northwind King is cursed and Aphes is said to hold the cure, but it too is filled with afflicted citizens who live eternally but are reliant on a precious resource, Starite, to stave off death, with a pre-existing caste system pitting the poor and wealthy against each other to control the remaining Starite. Hilda’s quest takes her through the forsaken Aphes as she works with a local resistance group, the Adherents to help their mutual causes and find her father, unraveling a history full of corruption, despair and mystery along her dangerous journey.

Narratively, the plot is fairly basic but intriguing in its presentation, using the youthful Hilda’s idealism and outsider status as a way to explore the fallacies of a caste-based society like Aphes, and how the curse of immortality can amplify such problems. Things get surprisingly bleak and insightful, despite the colourful and cartoon-like aesthetic of the game suggesting otherwise. The story is primarily presented mostly via in-world dialogue with characters rather than traditional cutscenes (a lack of facial animations and some unnatural voice-acting does hinder the otherwise interesting plot a bit), but there are numerous dialogue options to inquire about the history of Aphes or backstory of the characters, supplemented by discoverable memories (which act as magical recordings of the past), dozens of interactable documents filled with lore, and several optional conversations with side NPCs, the latter of which I found to be not as engaging as the main storyline due to being mostly unvoiced. Still, there is clearly a lot of effort put in to make the setting feel lived-in and I found the writing quality and environmental storytelling to be quite a step above a lot of similar titles with larger budgets, which is great for players who want more content. It’s a shame Hilda is not as interesting as the setting.

The core gameplay of Asterigos is a blend of action adventure, RPG and hack-and-slash genre staples. You play as Hilda from third-person perspective, exploring a series of maps with branching paths, gathering consumable items (health, upgrade resources, etc), solving quest objectives, speaking to locals and fighting a variety of enemies (bandits, wolves, monsters, mimics, soldiers, etc) and 20-something end-level bosses (also optional bosses, too) which reward XP and drop Stardust (this game’s currency) to spend on upgrading Hilda’s skills, stats and items. What makes Hilda different from the usual fantasy hero is her transformable magical weapon that can turn into a hammer, daggers, sword and shield, magical staff, spear and bracelets. Every weapon has a light and heavy attack, there are 4 usable magical elements to exploit enemy weaknesses, and Hilda can also dodge and sprint during fights. Overall I found the general flow of exploration and combat to be fun and decently reminiscent of other, bigger budget games in the action-adventure and Soulslike (I know, but there’s no other word) genres, with plenty to fight and discover in the nooks and crannies of the modestly-sized game world.

Each weapon Hilda wields also has unique attack patterns, techniques and special skills that cater to various preferences and playstyles, providing considerable variation for Asterigos’ action-oriented combat systems, and you can swap between two equipped weapons at will. These weapons are upgraded via a skill-tree system which allows for some additional customization in addition to unlockable special skills; for example, choosing the spear which has a parry ability and follow-up riposte by default, I upgraded the the riposte to instead become a spinning slash rather than a thrust to damage more foes easier. Alongside attribute points, the RPG elements are standard-fare to anyone who has played games like Asterigos before, but I found them to be well fleshed out in general, with lots to experiment with in combat.

As for the fights themselves, think Dark Souls meets Kena, but without the extreme difficulty of the former (there are three difficulty levels that can make fights as easy or as challenging as one would expect) and a lot faster-paced with an emphasis on combos and special abilities to dispatch foes. Enemies hit hard but have telegraphed and learnable attack patterns that encourage tactics and experimentation rather than brute force and button-mashing – it’s just a shame so many of them aren’t as visually interesting as competing titles. Your foes are usually spread out across the map, forcing you to pick your battles and use the environment to your advantage to survive long enough to make it to the more challenging boss of the area with enough health salves and items on-hand (salves can be found in the game world or as loot) or to one of the many rest stations you can use as checkpoints and a place to regain lost health, though using them will respawn all enemies in the area (similar to Dark Souls’ bonfires).

However, even if you perish, the drawback is only a small loss of Stardust and respawned enemies rather than all of your earned progression. The zoned levels themselves are decently interconnected, too, with many hidden, alternate pathways and unlockable doors that can be gradually discovered for quicker traversal, and eventually you can teleport using the rest stations, lessening the need to backtrack through completed areas outside of side quests.

In terms of visual and audio presentation, Asterigos: Curse of the Stars does a great job of portraying a lighter-hearted fantasy-adventure aesthetic, with bright and colourful locales and character designs, even as the story takes some darker turns in both its story and environments. The soundtrack too, deserves a mention, as it surprised and delighted me with a soothing and memorable menu melody and ambient music tracks that evoke a sense of nostalgia and wonder better than some of the titles that inspired it.

The Final Verdict

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is an entertaining and well-presented game that provides an intriguing world, beautiful visual style and satisfying action RPG combat systems. It’s smaller in budget than many of its contemporaries, but shows a lot of heart to make up for its shortcomings in the animation and voice-acting departments. With its Call of the Paragons DLC also bundled in its retail release, there’s still plenty more for me to get stuck into and for interested players to indulge in. Overall, this is a very accessible hack-and-slash RPG for those looking for a smaller, comfy fantasy adventure in between all the triple-AAA releases of 2023.

About the Author'

A senior writer for and former writer for MMGN and Ninemsn, Nathan has been reviewing video games and interviewing talented developers since 2012. As a nostalgia tragic eternally tied to the glorious 1990s, he's always playing retro gaming classics whenever he's not entrenched in the latest RPG, or talking your ear off about why The First Law book series is better than Game of Thrones - to anyone who dares listen.

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