Reviews - Updated on October 21, 2022

Before the release of Asterigos: Curse of the Stars, I had skeptical expectations. And to be more precise, there were almost none of them – well, another soulslike, only in a bright wrapper and with ancient Greek motifs. Yes, and on our website, the reaction to the news about the project was about the same. And in the end, we got a game that, despite the problems in the gameplay, can be called one of the best adventures of this fall.

girl from the north

Much of the success is based on the characters, the setting and the plot. The plot itself is fairly standard. Another magical muck, bad experiments, attempts to remove the curse that hit the whole city – we saw this more than once. Unless in Asterigos all this is accompanied by ancient Greek motifs and references – including the legend of the curse of King Midas.

A charismatic red-haired girl from the North – we also saw this: just remember Aloy from Horizon. True, Hilda from Asterigos is still a child who can throw up her hands in a funny, childish way with joy right during a conversation – and this only adds color to her.

The girl went in search of her father, who led the expedition of the northern army to the cursed city of Afes – they hoped to find a way to alleviate the suffering of their king, who became a victim of a curse. But in the end, they all disappeared.

Many, of course, do not believe that this red-haired freckled girl is able to defeat the creatures that have mutated due to the magic that flooded the city, but it is she who eventually begins to trust the Followers – this is how a group of townspeople calls themselves, which for a thousand years has been trying to overcome the misfortune that struck Afes .

And even more so, the northerners whom the girl meets on her way do not doubt Hilda’s abilities. Among them come across and “goblins” – so in her homeland they call thieving adventurers who came to Afes in search of profit. One of them first attacks Hilda, and then almost confesses his love – and together they remember under what circumstances they met two years ago.

The devil is in the details

It is these details that make the usual story more interesting and memorable. Yes, and the intrigues hidden at first are gradually appearing – the villain after some time will not be as unambiguous as one might think at first.

But the main thing is that, running on the orders of the Followers, Hilda constantly finds new information, meets interesting characters, eavesdrops on conversations and sees fragments of past events, which in total gives a much clearer and more elaborate picture. And these are not just another record of the progress of experiments, but interesting details about why people began to turn into harpies; about how and why two friends quarreled – a brilliant singer and an equally outstanding harpist.

In general, the game has a lot of colorful characters. In addition to the musical harpy, in the Followers’ hideout you can meet a cunning merchant and informer trying to manipulate Hilda, as well as an anthropomorphic blacksmith fox. And everyone has their own story.

And in other locations (there are city streets, and sewers, and suburbs, and a mine, and a huge prison) we find even more characters that make this world convincing and alive, for example, a werewolf who was attacked by other werewolves. There is an option to save him, but the consequences will still not be very pleasant.

You can bring melodies to this winged artist and ask them to play them.

You can bring melodies to this winged artist and ask them to play them.

And one day I came across a man who asked me to deliver gifts to a local preacher. In fact, she only pretended to be a preacher, and there was a choice – to tell the man the truth and finally plunge him into madness or take him to her.

Explorer Instinct

All these side quests and characters are not marked with question or exclamation marks on the map (it is not here) – the game encourages us to knock on all doors, explore every nook and cranny in order, for example, to accidentally fall into a hole, find an alternative passage there, searched for by one of the quests, spider eggs or a chest, from which suddenly not gold will fall, but a green slug will come out and devour Hilda without a single chance to escape. But the more interesting!

You never know in which chest such a “surprise” awaits.

You never know in which chest such a “surprise” awaits.

Exploring locations is also important because in this way we find rare resources necessary for the blacksmith fox to upgrade Hilda’s weapons, create protective amulets and improve her magical powers.

This also requires stardust (local currency), but there are no particular problems with it. After each death of Hilda, not only she is reborn, but also the enemies – the same happens if you just rest at the control point. Therefore, if you wish, you can grind a decent amount. But all these crystals, ore fragments and other valuable ingredients do not “respawn”. Collecting them is important, because both at the highest and even at the average difficulty levels, enemies, especially bosses, are capable of putting up serious resistance.

Adequate complexity

This despite the fact that at first it may seem that the authors missed the balance. Of all the types of weapons, each of which gives a unique ability (a sword and a shield, for example, allow you to block, a spear – to parry and counterattack, and a hammer breaks through defense), the magic staff looks like the main superweapon.

It's like archery.

It’s like archery.

By changing the types of magic (fire, ice or astral) depending on the type of enemies, you can easily shoot many of them from a distance. Therefore, it seems that it is enough to upgrade the branch of the staff, making it an increasingly effective weapon, to study spells and increase the parameters associated specifically with magic, in order to easily overcome all dangers even before they reach you. Moreover, the use of the staff does not consume mana, but, on the contrary, gradually restores it – it is spent on powerful spells.

But the farther, the more often situations happen when enemies sharply reduce the distance, pinch, limit the space for maneuver – in general, they do everything so that the use of a staff and magic does not seem like a panacea. Especially in this sense, I liked the bosses – each of them is memorable and differs in its tactics, and some attack together or offer to first go through the ranks of elite warriors, arranging a kind of test for us.

One of the brightest battles in the game.

Therefore, you have to think about pumping at least one melee weapon and related talents, about more general parameters and abilities that increase stamina and health points or make potions and evasions more effective. Fortunately, the skill tree here is branched. And learned features can be turned off at any time in a special menu.

And at the same time, this is not a pure soulslick, but an action-adventure / RPG that does not torment us with sadomasochistic complexity, but maintains a comfortable balance for a wide audience.

In any case, it will not be boring – the game often changes the surroundings and events. In one location, we run through the streets of a conditionally ancient Greek city, fight with colossi and harpies, hide from ballista shells and look for a way to turn them off, in another we climb rocks, overcome bomb traps in a mine and jump on ledges. And after 10 minutes we communicate with the city nobility at the reception.

What really raises questions is the behavior of the enemy AI. It happens that the opponents, chasing us, run up to a certain point, turn around and calmly go back, allowing them to calmly shoot them in the back – they do not react to this in any way.

All the way we collect these memories.

All the way we collect these memories.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is good because it gives pleasure both from difficult (even taking into account periodic AI failures) battles, and from exploring the world, studying its lore, completing quests. In general, this is one of those bright story-driven adventures that we are missing so much right now.

Pros: well-developed world and lore; interesting story; bright characters; a variety of locations that are interesting and useful to explore; difficult and exciting battles; fairly detailed role-playing system; the game looks and sounds great; good Russian localization.

Cons: in some places you still feel an imbalance, and the enemy AI behaves too stupidly.

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