As an avid fan of traditional turn-based JRPGs, seeing the rise of so many action-RPGs lately has given me some degree of trepidation. Even more so with Final Fantasy XVI revealing action-focused gameplay, which almost stole my last shreds of hope. However, games like Persona 5, Dragon Quest XI, Octopath Traveler, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon kept the fire blazing.
And now, here comes another to kindle even more my flames of hope. Astria Ascending, a new turn-based JRPG. The game is being developed by Artisan Studios, responsible for Super Neptunia RPG, and published by Dear Villagers. Although Artisan Studios is a French-Canadian studio, the team features established names in the JRPG segment, such as scenarist Kazushige Nojima, who has worked on projects like Kingdom Hearts I and II, Final Fantasy XV, and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Score composer Hitoshi Sakimoto from Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII, and Valkyria Chronicles is onboard too, and the artwork will be supplied by CyDesignation, responsible for games like Bravely Second: End Layer and Granblue Fantasy.
Don't believe me? Believe in the creators down below:
Meet Astria Ascending World and Races
Astria Ascending's plot takes place in the world of Orcanon, a fantastic world blessed with bountiful nature. It is inhabited by diverse races such as the Meryos, lookalike humans, Peyskas the occasional adorable tiny race, and the hybrid races like Zefts the reptile race, Arktans the feline race, and Awisis the avian race. There are also the Mygmys, a species that unites the groups and is responsible for delivering Harmelon to everyone.
Harmelon is a necessary fruit to preserve Harmony but at the cost of suppressing the races' instincts. It is hinted that the predator races, possibly Arktans, lose their power by eating the fruit and the bird-like race, Awisis, the ability to fly high.
We play as Demigods, a party responsible for peacekeeping in Orcanon by fighting Noises, phantasmagorical sphere creatures. Demigods are selected randomly or appointed by the citizens and must serve a three-year term to become national heroes. I believe it's how politics should have been in our modern world.
In the game, we will choose from eight customizable characters of different races and abilities. Julien Bourgeois, game director at Artisan Studios, says he wants to explore how people react in extraordinary moments and adds, "Each hero has their own perspective, but it's the relationships they form with one another that truly brings the story to life." Considering these are ordinary people who become demigods, it might be an interesting dynamic to see how each will handle this acquired responsibility and the relationship between them.
Key Features of Astria Ascending
Other features of the game address a dynamic weather system, traversing through five different cities and twenty-five dungeons in thirty hours of gameplay, expanding up to fifty hours if you want to complete 100% or are a trophy nut like me.
The combat gameplay will be turn-based as stated (yes!) with a focus point system stated as innovative by the developers - they claim you will be able explore beautifully artistic 2D sceneries while solving puzzles in the dungeons. Dear Villagers also promises several side-quests and mini-games, including an original fantasy-themed token game. Don't know you, but I'm a fool for Triple Triad and Gwent.
Check out some of the action in the announcement trailer:
Astria Ascending Release Date and Platforms
If you are under the impression that this game was announced a long time ago, I'll explain it to you. Astria Ascending is a re-adaption of the iOS JRPG Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey. The game was going to be released for PS4 and Vita, but never saw the light of day. Now, it is back in full force and will be released for various platforms later in 2021, although a date has not been specified.
You can await its release by adding Astria Ascending to your Steam wishlist if you play on PC. If you are a console player, any of these does the trick: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X consoles. The game will have a day one release on Xbox Game Pass.