Astonishia Story Review

Astonishia Storyís name would imply that its story is, well, astonishing, but a more apt title would be Generica Story. This game covers the basics of a Japanese-style RPG game without making much of an effort to add anything extra. Itís a very linear progression from one story event to the next without any side quests or much in the way of puzzles, items, or spells. What it does manage to do is deliver simple, straight-forward RPG play without doing a single thing to make it unique or memorable. Still interested? Then letís look at it a bit more closelyÖ

The story in the game puts you in the role of a knight named Lloyd. As a knight of the kingdom youíre charged with protecting a holy staff as it is transported through the wilderness, but you promptly manage to blow your assignment as the staff is snatched by a traitorous knight. The story is pretty simple in that you basically need to get the staff back, but actually trying to follow what is going on at any particular point in the game is a bit difficult. Many of the story events are a bit convoluted and donít make much sense, and the locals love to give you a lot of information that doesnít really seem to apply to the story, or anything else for that matter. There are also a few weird encounters which as far as I can tell are attempts at humor, but something seems to have been lost in translation or failed to cross cultural lines. For example, early in the game a guy with an enormous head chastises you for playing a pirated copy of the game and then runs off. Huh? O - Kaaay, Iíll just be moseying on along hereÖ

As I mentioned earlier, the game is really very linear. Youíll wander around a map of the wilderness looking for towns or other special locations, visit the locations, and talk to everyone until you manage to trigger the next event in the storyline. Pretty straightforward stuff, but not without its issues in Astonishia Story. First of all there are wandering monsters on the wilderness map that are too numerous to avoid, so the simple act of trying to get from one town to another will have you going in and out of one battle after another. Secondly, thereís no overview map, map scrolling, or any other way to get your bearings or quickly locate the towns. Since the game map features large clouds scrolling overhead and the town icons are small and dark, it is easy to miss a town location entirely and waste a lot of time aimlessly wandering around searching for the next story location. Some things are just ridiculously difficult to find. At one point in the game youíre told to ďgo south through the mountainsĒ but the mountains along the south of the area donít have any gaps or passages. It took me forever to figure out that I needed to go to an outpost with mountains to the north and west, enter the outpost, and then walk along its outside wall to the bottom corner of the screen to find the cave that allowed me to enter the mountains. And it wasnít even as if this pathway was intended to be hidden Ė the people in the outpost all spoke of how they went through the mountains all the time. This sort of thing happened time and again, and if I didnít have to play the game in order to write a review I just may have given up in frustration on several occasions.