Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a pretty neat Souls-like action game by Taiwan-based developer Acme Gamestudio, which had its original digital-only release on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in October of last year.
Close to a year later, it has received a physical release on PS5 and Xbox Series X, and is still a fun time for those looking for a more narrative-focused and less intense Souls-like experience.
In Asterigos: Curse of the Stars, you play as Hilda, a young warrior of the Northwind Legion sent to investigate the city of Aphes to track down her father’s missing battalion. A mysterious curse has stricken the denizens of Aphes and turned them into vicious monsters. Hilda then encounters the Adherents, a clandestine group operating from underneath the city investigating the curse and seeking a cure. Working with the Adherents, Hilda must locate her father while pursuing Eumenides, the man behind Aphes’ corruption.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars places a much higher emphasis on its narrative and dialogue than your typical Souls-like, from which the game otherwise draws much of its inspiration. Trips to and from the hub area are usually bookended with lengthy cutscenes and dialogue trees, which at least ensures that the plot and character motivations are clear. The sheer magnitude of some of these scenes and the amount of text one has to scroll through can seem somewhat excessive at times; fortunately, the levels themselves tend to be somewhat lighter on the exposition.
When it comes to the gameplay itself, it is FromSoftware’s Souls-like games, with its slow, deliberate combat, tough bosses and labyrinthine levels that double back on themselves as you unlock shortcuts and save points which seem to be the biggest influences on Asterigos. Hilda has several upgradable weapon types that she can choose from, including sword and shield, hammer, daggers, magic staff, and a spear, of which two can be equipped at a time.
I personally found the combo of sword and shield and magic staff to provide an effective mix of short and long-range options that suited most encounters. In addition to the different weapon loadouts, there is a fairly in-depth upgrade tree to increase Hilda’s stats and other passive abilities. I was particularly a fan of the game’s optional perk system, where certain beneficial effects can be applied, with an equal downside, such as increasing the effectiveness of healing items, with the additional effect of being able to carry fewer of them.
The main difference in the gameplay from the Dark Souls series is the difficulty or comparative lack thereof. At least on the normal difficulty setting, Asterigos: Curse of the Stars mostly lacks FromSoftware’s trademark murderous level of challenge. You can hold more healing items than you’ll ever need for most encounters, and they can be found in abundance, at least in the early game. Enemy damage output also feels quite reasonable and doesn’t create that sense of paranoia of constantly being a few hits away from defeat. That isn’t exactly a negative; if you ask me, I would say that this makes Asterigos a fairly effective introduction point for the Souls-like genre, particularly for players interested in the exploration element of those games without a desire for the tough combat that often accompanies it.
In short, Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is a decent Soulslike-esque action game, which perhaps goes a bit overboard with the amount of lore and dialogue it throws at the player. While the default difficulty setting won’t pound you into the dirt in the way that a FromSoftware game might, that also isn’t the kind of experience that Acme Gamestudio was going for. If you want an expansive world to explore with a surprisingly deep and engaging combat system, Asterigos has you covered, as long as you have a tolerance for lots of text.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is now out PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, now with physical releases on PS5 and Xbox Series X.