Asterigos lets you fight your way through enemies in search of your missing father. Keep reading to learn more about our first impression of Asterigos: Curse of the Stars, along with a short review of its gameplay and story from the demo.
Before I go into my first impressions of Asterigos, I'll first explain what it is. Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a third-person Soulslike action RPG. You, the player, fight your way through enemies in search of your missing father. As you progress through the map, you start to learn more about what happened to him, as well as fight enemies of increasing difficulty. It's very similar to other Soulslike action RPGs like, well, Dark Souls. Whenever the player dies, they return back to their most recent checkpoint. You can try to beat enemies multiple times, with each death restarting your progress in fighting the boss, as well as making enemies you've previously fought respawn. Basically, everything you would expect from a Soulslike game, you can find in Asterigos. With that out of the way, let's get into my first impression of Asterigos.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars First Impression
This is one of the first games I downloaded during the Steam Next Fest this month. Asterigos' title and gameplay caught my eye when I saw them on the event page. I have played all of the Dark Souls games, so finding other Soulslike games is a treat. After downloading it, I immediately opened it and tried it out. Asterigos opens with some story exposition, delivered with some really nice artwork and voice acting. After waking up, the player finds themselves with only two of their many weapons and must recover them. The first part of the game is one long tutorial, teaching the player basic movement and attack controls.
What I noticed immediately was that the controls for sprinting were a toggle by default, which I didn't like. Sprint is normally a hold function instead of a toggleable one, so I don't know what that was the default. After switching it, I went about trying the combat. I personally like Asterigos' combat system. Your character, Hilda, can equip up to two weapons at a time. At the start of the game, you have the sword and shield, and the hammer equipped. These two weapons have their own attack buttons and can be used in a combo. This allows players to quickly adjust on the fly, or even during combat. They don't have to wait for the weapon-switching animation that games like Dark Souls have.
Each weapon Hilda can equip has a primary attack and a special attack. The speed and damage that the player does are dependent on what weapons they have equipped. For example, the sword and shield provide a good balance of speed and damage, while the hammer is slow, but hits harder. Other than the primary attacks, each weapon also has a special attack. The sword and shield can block attacks, while the hammer can be charged to unleash a devastating attack. Knowing your weapon's skills, as well as their attack patterns, is important in this game.
After recovering my weapons, I decided to equip the dual blades and the spear. I like the gameplay of these weapons in Asterigos. The dual blades attack fast, and the special skill allows me to dash quickly. The spear, on the other hand, has a longer range, and its skill allows me to parry attacks and do a powerful counterattack. This weapon combination fits into my playstyle a lot, as I've always loved parrying in video games.
Speaking of playstyle, the game offers various ways to change up the player's playstyle. The game has a stat and skill system present, which is important in progression. In the demo, the player had three stats that they could level. The first one increased damage, the second increased HP, and the last one increased magic-related stats. As a melee-focused player confident in my dodging and parrying skills, I placed most of the stat points I got into Damage, with some in HP. Leveling up the right stats to complement your playstyle is very important in this game. The skills, on the other hand, are powerful attacks that are related to each of Hilda's 7 weapons. Each deals a lot of damage but uses up some of her mana in return.
After getting used to the weapons, I encountered my first boss fight, and it really did remind me of my time playing other Soulslike games. You can't just jump in and hack and slash away at the boss. Players have to watch the boss's attack patterns and act accordingly. Shield users, for example, could block incoming attacks, while spear users like me can afford to stay close and just parry attacks. These variations in playstyle give the game a lot of variety and increase its replayability.
Once I defeated the boss, I was able to dive deeper into the story of Asterigos. As I approached the city, I got small pieces of the story, scattered around in notes and interactable objects. I didn't have to dig into item descriptions or watch in-depth videos to know what was happening. I was able to understand and digest the story easily. This was further improved by the sort of flashback system in the game. Upon entering the city, I chanced upon a location that showed a flashback of what happened there. This, combined with the small notes and story pieces, added to my understanding of the story. It also worked in increasing my interest in the story. Why were these people running away? Why were the guards hindering them? What attacked them?
Right after this, I encountered my second boss, who admittedly caught me off-guard. I had thought that he was just an NPC that I could talk to. As it turns out, however, he was yet another boss. compared to the first boss, however, this one was a bit harder. A common occurrence in Soulslike games, this boss had various phases, switching his attack patterns as the fight continue. It was in this fight that I realized just how overpowered the parry mechanic was. The boss could not hit me with anything, as I just ended up parrying his attacks and dealing a lot of damage afterward. Once I finally defeated him, however, the demo ended.
So, overall, what do I think about Asterigos? If you look at the title of this article, you will see that I called Asterigos “Baby's first Soulslike”, and I mean that. Asterigos streamlines and simplifies a lot of the game features that one normally sees in Soulslike games, from its gameplay to its story. Instead of having hundreds of weapons to choose from, Hilda only has access to 7 (in the demo, anyway). Instead of having a lot of stats to choose from when leveling up, Asterigos only has three. They even made it so that the full story could be gotten from just going through the game, instead of having to get lore from item descriptions and the like. Parrying and blocking are easier to do, and the boss fights are not as unforgiving as other Soulslike games.
In short, I believe that Asterigos is a good entry point to the world of Soulslike games, as its gameplay and story allow players to ease their way into the genre, instead of immediately throwing them to the wolves like other Soulslike games. Of course, I'm not saying that the people who play this game should stop here. If you like Asterigos, you will definitely like the harder Soulslike games.
That about sums up our first impressions of Asterigos: Curse of the Stars. The game is coming out on October 11, 2022, on Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, and PC. If you want to learn more about the release date, as well as a quick summary of the gameplay and story, click here.