The following weeks of Astellia have commenced with little to no fanfare from an audience that doesn’t seem to be very enchanted with the western adaptation of the game. If you would like to read my initial response in the first review in progress of Astellia, feel free to mosey on over to this article. This is part two of our review in progress for Astellia.
Astellia in the MMORPG Market
So far, there isn’t much that helps Astellia truly stand out amongst the existing MMORPGs on the market. With the exception of its “Astel collection” feature, the game relies heavily on its general theme and genre to hook players into playing the newest MMORPG on the market. The promise of a love letter to the traditional MMO system delivers, in the form of a cheesy note from that kid in middle school that wanted to get your attention and did: but not in the way they wanted.
Troubles with Dialogue
At the start of Astellia, you feel that there were several corners cut in porting the game to English. All of the dialogue is stale, from the standpoint of both cutscenes and quest text. Not only is the writing cringey, but in cutscenes, the dialogue doesn’t match the captions displayed on the screen. For players, the drastic change between the two can be somewhat jarring.
Astellia has a difficult time establishing what kind of audience it wants to target. There are some serious themes involved in the main storyline, with some graphic elements, but all of that seems to be undone outside of those scenes. It’s infuriatingly difficult to take the game seriously when you’re fighting anthropomorphic otters insistent upon kidnapping children by teaming up with a party of lolita companions. The entire time you’re playing, there is always something that feels off or out of place. Even the dance emotes in the game play something akin to modern KPOP music, coupled with some surreal dance moves not suited for the setting of the game.
A beautiful, but jarring world.
The world of Astellia is beautiful. It’s one of the most immersive MMOs I’ve played in a while, with assets that feel meaningfully placed in the world. That’s why it is so frustrating to be knocked out of that immersion by the cutesy Astels and their out of place dialogue. If Astellia wanted a cute, innocent, youthful vibe, it should have gone all-in on those themes. Instead, we’re left with an ill-fitting conglomerate of characters and settings.
Astellia still uses the dated DirectX 9, and is most obvious in some of the jagged lines around textures and poor optimization. The world is still lovely to look at, but it is just missing that final piece to really smooth things over. Invisible walls plague the game, making it frustrating to run the long way around in several spots and mind-boggling frustrating when you are allowed to jump off a cliff and suffer fall damage. At that point, you start to wonder why you are allowed to “jump” at all. Guild Wars was full of invisible walls that your character couldn’t bypass and didn’t contain the jump mechanic at all. You began the game with the expectation that you were facing those limits. In Astellia, it just feels frustrating and confusing because it’s not consistent.
Moving into the final review, I really want to focus more on endgame, combat, and whether or not the game is both fun and sustainable. With a pay-to-win cash shop and a potentially grind-heavy endgame, Astellia may not last long on the NA side of things.