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20170205

Review: Asdivine Hearts (PS3 Digital)

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ASDIVINE HEARTS
KEMCO / EXE-CREATE

Genre:
Turn-based RPG
Players: 1

Price: $14.99

Website / Trailer

Tested: NA Version.


Japanese Role Playing Games were one of the best things for many gamers to experience during the early and mid-90s. As someone who fell in love with RPGs back in the SNES days (Secret of Mana and Zelda, Terranigma, Chrono Trigger, and EarthBound helped a lot, among many others) in this modern era of epic and deep RPGs it's nice to go back to the times were RPGs were a little simpler and could focus more on story, characters, and battle systems than on graphics that take away your own imagination. Asdivine Hearts looks, sounds, and plays like a SNES RPG.

You begin playing as the teenage boy Zack and his friend Stella who both were raised in an orphanage on the day they were sent out for a small task in a nearby forest where they get dragged into a mystical and world-changing event. It's your destiny to travel around the overworld of the land of Asdivine and fight the evil that wants to take over, by visiting towns and dungeons, leveling up your characters, buying equipment, and finding treasure, just like in the original Final Fantasy games.


The battle system is strategic and turn-based, but quick and simple at the same time, thanks to the games overall fast-paced feeling which is the result of having only half-second loading times, very fast walking, and also because everything in the game doesn't have many lengthy animations. As you travel through dangerous locations like forests and ruins, magical fantasy creatures will frequently attack you every 50-60 steps you take (invisible enemy encounters) and you get pulled into the battle mode were enemies spawn in a 2x4 grid and your party spawns in a 3x3 grid (in a formation you customized earlier).

A meter on the top screen shows when it's your or the enemies turn, and the windows on the bottom screen show the obligatory character stats: health points, magic points, skill points, and status effect icons if there any, along with their trust meter, a meter that fills up slowly as you attack, and grants one of your characters a powerful unique action when it's up to 100%. When it's the turn of one of your characters the game stops for you to select one of the options: Attack to use the weapon you have equipped, Magic to use your MP for spells, Skills to use your SP for a selection of character specific skills, Items to use an item from your inventory, and Guard to reduce the hit damage. In most cases you follow your action by choosing a spot on one of the grids to perform that action on.

You can also try to flee from battle, or if the enemy is really weak, pressing the Y-button for semi-auto mode to let your party attack automatically while skipping monster animations to pass low-level enemy battles in a few seconds. All of this and more is explained through the game's many easy to understand tutorials that can be skipped, or viewed anytime.


While Asdivine Hearts has all the good qualities of a classic RPG, it also adds an interesting layer of depth by adding a Rubix for each character that you can customize with jewels. Starting with a small 3x3 Rubix you can add and remove jewels of different shapes into it.  These jewels have all kinds of different effects on your character, making you stronger, letting you earn more gold or experience, enhancing certain abilities, adding new magic classes, and much more. You can rotate these jewels so they hopefully fit inside the Rubix.

Also, there are jewel makers in every town that can synthesize two of your jewels to make a stronger jewel or a new one. Of course they won't do it for free. Also, saving and loading is super fast: you can save or load your game anytime as along as you are outside of a battle or a cutscene.

But the game also limits itself by never adding above the scope of a SNES game: Throughout your quest, monsters reappear in different colors with different names and stats, and the looks of a few areas look similar to places visited earlier. These things were pretty normal back in the day because there was only very limited space for graphics. This being a new game running on much stronger hardware though, I wished for more graphical variety.

Same goes for the music: there's a selection of nice tracks all in true SNES-Midi but I feel like some locations could have used a new track instead of music you already heard in two other dungeons. It's not that big of a deal, but not even the ending having a new piece of music is a bit disappointing. Fortunately it's the story and the characters that add to the quality of the game more than anything else, with the the simplicity of the dungeons and battle system being a bonus that keeps this game being fun even if you don't like turn-based RPGs.


Even though the game is quite linear, you'll open up sub-quests, a battle arena, and other means of travelling so you can find new monsters that you couldn't normally access which is necessary to fill out the optional monster logbook. Distractions like these add to the games overall wholeness.

The PS3 Difference:

The added trophy support in the PS3 version is nice, but we'd have liked to have seen more trophies in the game along with a Platinum. Still overall it's a nice touch, though the PS3 version does appear to have slightly downgraded audio when compared to the Wii U version, but it shouldn't be too noticeable unless you played the heck out of the Wii U version of the game.

Bottom-Line:

Asdivine Hearts isn't just a long game with over 40 hours of gameplay for just the main quest (I played on Normal but there's Easy, Hard and Extreme as well), it's also a very polished game. I couldn't find a single bug which is quite rare nowadays, so much respect to KEMCO for making their game work on flawlessly on PS3 and also for bringing a retro experience that feels like a lost SNES gem. Really, the only problem it has is that it looks and sounds more like a 1990 SNES game than one from 1995.

SKTTRSKORE: 8.4/10


Written by SKTTR & Ichigofan, 5th February 2017

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Comments

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Wait...the main characters are Zack and Stella?! That's suspiciously similar to the names of Zed and Celia (formerly Stela) in Chromaicora Adventures... Suspect
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Awesome review @SKTTR and @Ichigofan! Very Happy
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