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.