ASTLIBRA Revision Switch Review

by collect1
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ASTLIBRA Revision stands as a testament to the power of indie game development, showcasing what can be achieved through sheer determination and creativity. Developed primarily by KEIZO over more than a decade, this 2D side-scrolling RPG marries a deep narrative with engaging gameplay, wrapped in a retro-inspired presentation.

Publisher: Whisper Games
Developer: KEIZO
Release Date:  16 November 2023

Thanks to Publisher for the review code.

Story and Setting

The narrative begins with a familiar trope – a nameless protagonist and his friend escaping a demon attack – but evolves into a complex tale involving time travel and a search for lost humanity. Accompanied by a talking crow, Karon, the protagonist embarks on an adventure that unravels in an episodic structure, often leading to unexpected twists. While the initial setup might seem clichéd, the story unfolds into an immersive experience, drawing favorable comparisons to classics like Chrono Trigger​.

Gameplay Dynamics

ASTLIBRA Revision starts with basic combat mechanics, which evolve as players progress. New abilities and skills are unlocked through equipment and a “GROW” system, reminiscent of the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X. The combat is fluid and becomes increasingly complex, requiring strategic use of various skills and abilities. The game also features a significant focus on exploration, with different areas such as the Frontier, dungeons, and towns, each offering unique challenges and interactions.

Customization is a key element, allowing for diverse character builds. The skill tree provides extensive options for character development, encouraging different playstyles. This flexibility is one of the game’s strengths, allowing players to experiment and find a style that suits their preferences.

Presentation and Aesthetics

Visually, ASTLIBRA Revision has elicited mixed reactions. The game’s art style, characterized by its blend of stylized backgrounds and character sprites, has been described as outdated by some but appreciated for its uniqueness by others. The environments, in particular, have been praised for their ethereal quality.

The soundtrack, comprising various tracks from multiple composers, adds a rich layer to the gaming experience. It covers a wide range of genres, ensuring that each narrative and gameplay element is complemented by an appropriate musical arrangement. The inclusion of an anime-style intro song adds to the game’s charm.

Criticisms and Challenges

Despite its many strengths, ASTLIBRA Revision isn’t without its flaws. Some players have criticized the game’s visuals and mechanics as clunky. The English localization also suffers from unnatural translations and excessive vulgarity, potentially alienating some players. A significant difficulty spike in the late game can lead to frustration, as players are often overwhelmed by enemy swarms and powerful bosses.

Conclusion

ASTLIBRA Revision is a remarkable indie game that demonstrates the potential of small-scale, passionate game development. Its narrative depth, engaging gameplay, and unique aesthetic make it a standout title in the RPG genre. While it may not be perfect, with visual styles and mechanics that might not appeal to everyone, its strengths in storytelling, combat dynamics, and soundtrack make it a must-play for fans of 2D action RPGs. Its mix of modern and retro elements, combined with a richly crafted world, offers a fulfilling and memorable gaming experience. ASTLIBRA Revision is a true hidden gem, deserving recognition not only for its content but also for the dedication and love poured into its creation.

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