In last week’s Astellia Review in Progress, we touched on the first impressions of Astellia based on the gameplay of two different characters. With another week of playing behind us, the good and bad of Astellia has really begun to take shape. Has Barunson E&A Studio put in the work, and made the right moves to make this Korean game palatable to a western audience?
From my last article to this weeks, the story of Astellia and my roster of Astels has increased, yet the game itself didn’t truly hit it’s stride until I reached my mid 20’s. With my mage more than halfway to max level, and my Assassin trailing by several levels, my enjoyment between the two characters differs greatly. Prior to around level 23, both my Assassin and my Mage felt as though they had very little impact in combat as a whole. No single ability or strategy was a true “haymaker” and the speed of combat was slow going with the amount only the amount of Astels I chose to use really changing the flow of combat.
The more Astels I utilized during combat, the faster I would bypass content, so I began throwing more of them into the mix, even when I was just battling normal mobs. Astellia really differentiates itself based around the usage of your Astel “pets” which is kind of a shame, when you realize that you can’t truly command them well enough for them to be exceptionally effective in most situations. Your options on how they attack, who they attack, and when they attack are limited, and many times I had Astels bug out completely and choose not to attack due to strange pathing issues. This is exasperated later on, especially on my Mage, where my progress hinges on the success of my Astels ability to hold a mob’s attention.
Utilizing multiple Astels did help a little in this endeavor, but eventually mobs appear to focus more on the primary threat, which generally revolves around the opponent doing the most damage. Despite the fact that you can’t run multiple Astels for very long, combat monotonously limped along until around level 24 or so, when I entered a dungeon and confronted a boss that actually had real battle mechanics you had to pay attention to in order to beat him. Battles like that thus far are few and far between in the pre-thirty level range. More times than not I found that I the most trouble with ranged opponents that all utilized homing projectiles that would hit me no matter if I dodged or used a special skill to stop it.
Needless to say, the combat isn’t all roses, but there are some merits to it. Eventually my Mage learned enough crowd control abilities, such as a sleep spell, a bind spell, and several freezing spells, that at least gave me a semblance of power, as I masterfully utilized them to control the battlefield before me. There were times that I really enjoyed the combat, dodging through enemy mobs, stopping dangerous creatures from harming other players, and strategizing my crowd control to ensure my victory. The speed of my progress picked up substantially once I finally got in the full swing of my characters and their skill focus.
Another painstaking issue that I encountered as I climbed through the ranks, was the appearance of gear, jewel stones, runes and enhancements that appeared in abundance as the game progressed. There are so many minor systems to leveling up a character that it can easily become convoluted, and I felt inundated with the amount of micromanaging I had to do just to build my characters the way that I wanted. For example, if you want to enhance your favorite Astel, you have to earn and slot 5 different Star Jewels before you can complete the enhancement. Only certain Astels can equip certain Star Jewels, so you have to find the types you need if you want to upgrade a particular character.
On top of that, you have Runes that you can equip to gear. These can be removed and reslotted at any time, but you also have to remember to remove them from used gear as your character earns new armor and weapons. Then, you have crystals that you need to enhance your character stats, armor, accessory and weapon enhancement stones that you need to upgrade your weapons, and additional skill points to upgrade certain abilities as you level up. The number of menus and areas you have to pay attention to as you increase in level is astounding even to a veteran MMO player. Usually systems like this rear their head during end game, but in Astellia, these are front and center to your character if you plan on being as efficient as possible during the leveling game.
With one more week until I get to taste end game, and still about ten to twenty levels respectively to get there, I have my work cut out for me. There have been some pleasant surprises with Astellia in what appears to be an ordinary Korean title, but the more I progress through the game, the better the game has gotten. Join us next week as I render the final verdict on Astellia.
Full Disclosure: The product being reviewed was provided by the game developer for the purposes of this review. Astellia is represented by Team Critical Hit, a games PR company co-founded by former MMORPG Managing Editor, Bill Murphy.