“Find your Soul Mate”
No this is not an ad for an online dating service; this is the tagline for Asda Story.
Asda Story is a free to download and free to play game brought to you by the folks at Games Campus. The downloading and installation of the game were fairly quick and relatively painless. You do need to create a Games Campus account before you get started, and this account information will also be used to log you into the game. Once downloaded and installed I ran into some trouble starting the game. It took me a couple of attempts to get the game up and running. I installed Asda Story on a Windows Vista Ultimate, Dual Core E6750 @2.66, Dual ATI Radeon HD 3850, with 2 Gig Corsair RAM over a cable modem. Once inside the game, the game play ran very smoothly. The one in-game feature that worked flawlessly was the in-game link to the web based Games Campus market place for all your real cash transactions. Funny how they got that part right. The game controls and dynamics of Asda Story are pretty much the standard of what gamers have come to expect from the majority of fantasy based games. You have your hot bar, a mini map in the upper right corner, chat in the bottom left corner, and general mouse point and click movement.
Opinion: The game’s UI was pretty standard. No innovation there, but really what else are you looking for in a user interface?
Character generation is pretty straight forward. There is a limited choice of your avatar’s appearance, but you can come up with a fairly unique look. You can create up to three characters (professions in Asda Story). That works out very well, since there are only three types of professions in the game. Each Primary Profession has a second and third profession assigned to them. The primary profession choices are: Warrior, Archer, and Mage.
Opinion: Three different professions to choose from to start in this day and age is really not an impressive thing. Doesn‘t kill the game, but it don‘t wow the user either.
The graphics of Asda Story are fairly basic; they are clean and neat but nothing too special. They have a decent manga style to them, although they were a little too cutesy for my tastes. I did enjoy the music to the game, it’s a little pop and corny, but it’s a nice change of pace from the majority of games out there. Sure you won’t be finding the Asda Story sound track on CD anywhere soon, but it is fun to kind of hum along with.
Opinion: Nothing here to really write home about. Average across the board here. The look and sound of the game didn’t draw me in but they didn’t send me running and screaming the other way either.
As the tagline mentioned, the unique feature of Asda Story is the soul mate system. Your in-game soul mate is directly linked to your own character (go figure soul mate and all). The soul mate is another live player, not just an NPC. This a great concept if you like to join new games with a friend, or are just looking to find a player with your similar schedule and drive to achieve. While having a soul mate you gain experience points faster than just solo or even grouped. Additionally, if your soul mate joins a party with other players, you both gain party and soul mate experience while your soul mate plays with other players. Never throughout time has cheating on a soul mate been made so beneficial (Try explaining that line to your significant other). I like to think of the soul mate system as the pyramid scheme of experience points. You even gain experience if your soul mate is playing and you are not, through use of the in-game “soul stone”. It’s almost like legalized power leveling, “Go out and get me some levels soul mate”, I’m sure that’s not the spirit the system was intended for, but it just seems like something that can be exploited a little too easy.
Other benefits of having a soul mate are a set of special skills that only soul mates can use. Any soul mate skills gained will disappear once you break up with a soul mate, but will be returned when you find another soul mate. Just like real life dating, c’mon you know what I mean folks.
For a more comprehensive and most likely clearer description of the Soul Mate system please check out Asda Story’s website at http://asdastory.gamescampus.com/
They really do a great job of laying out all the details of the system, and I can’t really do the readers the justice they deserve of explaining the system in more depth without committing grievous acts of plagiarism.
Opinion: Now you can have a wife / significant other (we don’t judge here) in real life and a soul mate in the game… Does this sound like a bad idea to anyone else? Actually, it’s an interesting and innovative little feature.
Crafting plays a somewhat significant role in through out the game. Asda Story has created a “unique” style of crafting entitled Sowel. Sowel stands for the combination of Souls and Jewels and is the building blocks of character specialization and customization. Crafting components are found in the game through questing, killing or crafting minor components. A large amount of crafting items can be purchased through the Games Campus online store. Sowel reminded me a lot of the Final Fantasy Materia system, with a little less confusion.
Opinion: Every game feels the need for some type of item enhancement, so, here comes the Sowel system. Not your average "crafting" more of a collection and enhancement system
In closing I would rank Asda Story as an MMORPG.COM: 6 (Acceptable) - This game has a few stand-out features with few, if any, glaring detractors.
It’s really difficult to be overly critical of a free to play and free to download game; the only major investment you lose out on is a little spare time. I did enjoy the concept of the Soul Mate system, and I think it’s a great way to game with that special gaming friend of yours. But in the end the games come down to free time and when to play them. Asda Story is certainly worth checking out, but for continued play I don’t think it really fares well.