A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Strong themes of camaraderie, sacrifice, and duty run throughout the story. Combat glamorizes fantasy violence, but the characters believe they're fighting for a good cause.
Positive Role Models
The main group of heroes are a mixed lot with a variety of personality traits. Some display strong leadership, team spirit, and an eagerness to please, while others are gruffer, prefer to be alone, and even a bit insecure. Each member of the group grows throughout the game, confronting their own personal issues, often with the help of friends.
The main group is composed of characters who are male and female, young and old. Their racial characteristics are uncertain, since several are mixtures of humans and various animals and have unusual physical traits and skin tones.
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Ease of Play
Combat and exploration will prove intuitive for most gamers. Tutorials provide instructions as needed, and multiple difficulty levels allow less experienced players to lower the level of challenge as needed with aids such as revealing enemy weaknesses.
Violence & Scariness
Combat is viewed from the side, with human and human/animal hybrid characters attacking fantastical monsters using magic and bladed weapons. There's no blood or gore, just flashes of light and occasional yelps of pain. Enemies disappear once defeated.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some female characters have exaggerated breasts and wear revealing clothing. A female enemy monster appears as though it may be partially naked from the waist up, but without any detail or definition.
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Occasional mild profanity -- such as "damn" -- pops up in text and spoken dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Astria Ascending is a traditional side-scrolling fantasy role-playing game for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PCs, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. It stars a diverse cast of eight heroes -- male and female, young and old, with some possessing animal traits -- who are investigating and combatting a threat to the world they inhabit. They possess a broad range of personalities and behaviors, but they're fundamentally good-hearted, help each other and strangers in need, and gradually overcome their own personal struggles as the game progresses. Battles are viewed from a side angle, with hand-drawn characters using magic and melee weapons to attack aggressive monsters that stagger and disappear once defeated. There isn't much in the way of potentially offensive content, though parents should note there's the occasional bit of mild profanity -- such as "damn" -- in dialogue, and that some female characters are dressed in revealing fashion and have slightly exaggerated breasts.
Is It Any Good?
RPG (role-playing game) fans are bound to love the look and feel of this lengthy side-scrolling adventure, but may come away a bit disappointed by elements of its execution. Astria Ascending is a treat for the eyes, featuring imaginative hand drawn environments and characters that foster a true sense of otherworldly fantasy. The heroes are an interesting bunch, each with a unique past but brought together to serve a common good -- though with the knowledge that their service will eventually come at the cost of their own lives. It's a great setup with plenty of potential for an epic JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) story, complete with melodrama, some truly surprising twists and turns, and bittersweet moments, though it runs into a few problems along the way.
Combat can be loads of fun, with players given plenty of strategic options as they hone in on enemy weaknesses, store up focus points for massive attacks, and tactically insert the right heroes for each battle. In some dungeons, nearly every battle is a delightful challenge. But the action can also become a bit of a slog, with turns taking longer than they should and no way to speed up the action. There are problems outside of battle, too, with guileless puzzles serving as little more than time wasters, no way to auto-equip the best gear for your large party of heroes, and a strategic, token-flipping mini-game that never quite clicks. There's plenty to enjoy in Astria Ascending, especially for fans of old-school turn-based adventures, but getting to it sometimes requires turning a blind eye to its clunkier bits.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.