Originally released in 2014, and later ported to Steam in 2016, Asdivine Hearts is a 2D Turn-Based JRPG developed by the well known studio Exe Create Inc. Completely inspired by the classics, this is one of those titles that bring memories in HD, that is to say, classic gameplay, with a modern approach!
In the fabulous world of Asdivine, two distinct deities are responsible for the stability of the world. The Light deity, and the Shadow one. Both important, as one creates life, and the other channels those who perish. Since the beginning of times, people pray to both deities, offering their thoughts and objects of adoration. For what seemed an eternity, things followed this order, until one of the deities suddenly turns against the other. With the whole Asdivine in danger, it’s up to a small group of heroes to establish peace once again.
Zack and Stella grew up in an orphanage, and they don’t know much about the world, but they are very well aware of their dreams. To go on adventures, meet new villages, make new friends, and even see the ocean for the first time. It’s just some of the things they wish to do together. Their paths will lead them to something far beyond those, facing unimaginable forces, with new friends and allies.
Like in many other games developed by the same team, the narrative is filled with waves of different emotional tides. Relationships between party members evolve along the course of events, but in specific moments of the storyline. Zack can interact with all the party members, and by choosing the correct line of dialogue, characters trust increase. Although this doesn’t affect the end game, it’ll flourish new emotions between Zack and the rest of the group!
Dialogues are entertaining with a few lines of humour and comic situations that are really funny. The main story delivers a straightforward adventure, with non-stop action, but sub quests are also available with interesting moments. Some of which, are permanently open sub-quests, so one can gain specific items for as long as it needs or wants. There’s no fillers to obstruct the main quest, but players can freely explore the world.
Although Asdivine Hearts is still an indie game at its gameplay core, it surpass many major games, with an outstanding and deep battle system that allows several layers of costumizationable approaches. Even if its narrative may be straight forward, the way one defeats enemies can have a strategic point. Party members have their own style and skills, but players can still decide their side routes, for magical elements or focusing them permanently on close range combat.
Players can also use the Jewel System, a very Tetris-like jewel box where one can fit several gems. Gems can be found, created, or gained in battle, and it’s possible to use them in the jewel box to increase each party member individually. Gems do stack, so it’s possible to have a few of 5+HP stacked, and take advantage of the extra health. This example goes with everything, as it’s possible to increase magical power, strength, and pretty much anything as long as players find the necessary gems.
If that’s not an advantage enough, gems can be synthesized into a more powerful one, giving absolutely ridiculously great results. Some of them may include earning 10% more EXP per battle. Now imagine, having 5 or more of those stacked for the entire party, and it’s a great shortcut to level up! Insane, but widely fun to play around with the gems and investigate their ending result once properly synthesized. High-Tier Gems will give out the best results, so be aware of those, if you ever cross paths with them.
Another fantastic element to be used during the challenge battles is called Trust Gaunger. This is basically a trust bar, that characters rise progressively at each enemy defeated or overkill performance, and goes down every time the team flees an encounter. At full bar, players can use the Trust attack to deliver a major hit on the target, and each party member has a different strike. That’s right, each will deliver a different result, and using such skill can determinate the end of a battle. This ability has nothing to do with character’s trust regarding dialogue decisions, they are two separated mechanics.
With such method, leveling up starts to sound like a good idea, but is there a need for grinding? In short; yes and no. Of course, as players progress, characters level up, but thanks to the wide variety of elements at play, it’s not that required. Different characters unlock different skills, plus players can add magic Gems that allows a specific non-magic member to use magic, either white or black, which is convenient.
With new skills, comes new powerful attacks, but how can you execute them even more effectively? In Asdivine Hearts, the Battle Formation can greatly increase the damage inflicted on enemies. Party members placements are extremely important, as some spots are critical for air strikes, magic attacks or range combat. You are free to try your own positions, or use the in-game pre-defined formation!
Like many other games from Exe Create Inc, mobile options do exist, with in-app purchases that considerably improve the experience. Although there’s no NG+, once the main plot is finished, the game goes on, with new unlocked areas, monsters to hunt, and even an Arena to battle and make a name for yourself! Steam versions do not support such app purchases, thus, one must grind AHP (Asdivine Hearts Points), which can be extremely grindy.
Deeping into technicalities and design choices, I must say Asdivine Hearts is not an RPGMaker game, it’s actually built with Unity, which made possible to be released on current consoles. Although it’s locked at 30fps, it’s 100% compatible with Gamepads, which is an improvement over the previous Steam release “Alphadia Genesis” by KEMCO. The soundtrack is good, classic but pleasant, although after a couple dozen hours, it gets repetitive.
As visuals go, it’s a 2D simple, but aesthetically well built world. Towns are somehow generic and offer little to none enthusiastic unique visuals that characterize them. Which is the opposite of the World Map, that offers a fun exploration, with very noticeable areas. Character renders are handmade 2D, with a anime-based design direction, portraying cute expressions accordingly to the pace of the game.
With a good storyline, and dialogues that follow a progressive well expressed notion of friendship and love, Asdivine Hearts delivers a fun JRPG experience, that can be just 40 to 50 hours, or up to as much as it takes to complete every single bonus content. Either way, through the characters, we get to enjoy a pretty fantasy adventure, with some minor twists and adorable moments.
Another KEMCO’s success among so many alongside their catalog, this time, priming friendship, love, and flawless gameplay. Highly recommended!