Astrologaster Review

How will you interpret the stars?

It has been an eventful year for the UK-based independent developer Nyamyam. May 2nd, 2019 saw the first release of their newest title Astrologaster for the iOS system, and May 9th will bring the game to both PC and Mac via Steam. Astrologaster promises a light-hearted narrative based on the life of a little known astrologer at the time. Was there any merit to his findings, or was he merely telling his patients what they wanted to hear? You decide how to interpret the patterns in the stars and unconsciously weave together the lives of your unwitting patients. This is our review of Astrologaster. 

A NEW CHAPTER 

Nyamyam’s creative director Jennifer Schneidereit first came across the idea for the game when she saw the University of Cambridge’s Dr. Lauren Kassell present her research on Simon Forman’s casebooks. From then on, she fell in love with and completely immersed herself in the world of Simon Forman and his peculiar studies. The game’s website proudly boasts that the inspiration for the consultations comes from Dr. Forman’s real patient records, carefully investigated by Dr. Kassel’s own research team in cooperation with Nyamyam.

CONSULTING THE STARS

Moving through the charming pop-up book style pages presents a surprisingly immersive experience for the stargazer behind the screen. Our story takes place in what is described as Elizabethan London in the time of Shakespeare, offering a nice backdrop of the city in between some transitioning pages.

Astrologaster Review 1

Playing as Dr. Forman, you must cater to each patient that walks through your door and attempt to provide a solution to their ailments by reading star charts. ( Even if one of your patients does happen to be a rival doctor sporting a fake Italian mustache.) So how are we as players with no innate knowledge of medieval astrology supposed to accomplish this? Through a stargazing minigame, of course!

“Consulting the stars” is a fairly intuitive process but some consultations rely heavily on the context of the conversation you just had with your patient. While some illnesses may seem straightforward, others are not, and if you blacked out for a few seconds during your dialogue with the patient you might have missed some crucial information that could set some of the choices apart. My main regret with this is that I couldn’t find an option to replay the dialogue or to pause the encounter as it was happening. Note to self: Manage child or puppy aggro before sitting down for a consultation with a patient.

Astrologaster Review 2

In between each appointment, there are entertaining madrigals that you can sing along with. Each of these little theme songs proceeds the meeting with a specific patient and can end up divulging details you might have missed about your patient before. That poor woman who was afraid to marry her suitor because he was of ripe old age? She came to you to find out if he was in poor health and if she should go through with the marriage. What a shame that after they got married, a bagpipe enthusiast moved into their flat and her husband found a viper in the dresser that gave him a heart attack. Oh, but won’t you be a dear and tell her about the health concerns of her newest husband?

Astrologaster Review 3

SAVING YOUR PROGRESS

Something to keep in mind as you continue on your journey to win your medical license is that this journey is a one-way trip. Unlike most games, you can’t go back and start from where you previously saved your progress. If you diagnose your patient as being bewitched when she’s only guilty of an upset stomach, you’re stuck with the consequences of your actions. Once you begin, you have to see your career through to its possible tragic end (unless you want to start over completely from the beginning). The game automatically saves your progress as you move from patient to patient, but you, unfortunately, can’t go backward in time to capitalize on that.

Astrologaster Review 4

Since you can only go forward, unless you would like a clean start, your journey feels purposeful. You have to own up to your decisions and accept your mistakes for what they are. As a doctor, you are treating illnesses of both the body and mind and your decisions don’t just affect you. They affect the lives of your patients and the people woven into their lives.

 

Summary
Astrologaster is not a game that is meant to be rushed through. The moving, paper-doll like characters have small quirks and ticks that you notice in their movements and facial features. The dialogue gives you clues into each of the characters’ personalities and hidden motives. The madrigals are cleverly written and satisfying to listen to in between consultations. Even the calming soundtrack in the background does wonders for immersing the stargazer into Dr. Forman’s world, and adds a calm, soothing aura to the game. The charming graphics, coupled with the fantastic voice work and intriguing narrative on their own all definitely warrant giving this game a play through, especially for the price of $9.99 USD on Steam.
Good
  • Creative narrative
  • Fully voiced character dialog
  • Easter eggs
Bad
  • Little replay value
  • Autosave with no save slots
  • No pausing dialog
8.5
Great
Written by
Avid lover of all things fantasy and horror. She spends her spare time studying, crafting, writing, and dreaming of a world where otters reign supreme.

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