Asdivine Hearts is a 2D, turn-based JRPG, following the protagonist Zack in his adventure to save the light from the dark in the world of Asdivine. If that sounds generic to you at all, it’s because it is. Most new additions to the JRPG genre have started to distance themselves from the typical light against dark affair – unfortunately, then, Asdivine Hearts finds itself lingering a little in the past.
The story here, as you might expect, then, doesn’t spring many surprises. Asdivine is your usual fantasy world of sword and sorcery, with a deity of light and a deity of shadow. It’s such a remarkably unengaging premise that I was expecting at least some compensation in-depth from the characters. However, upon meeting the protagonist Zack, it becomes woefully clear that there’s barely anything capturing about the story or characters.
I’d go as far to say, in fact, that they’re immediately deterrents. Zack, especially, is a huge draw back. Whilst he appears your traditional male JRPG protagonist, he also occasionally has some awkwardly edgy quips that quickly begin to grate. Similarly, as your party fills with some of the female supporting cast, there’s an unfortunate harem that begins to form. If you don’t like Zack, which is quite probable, you’re probably not going to like a bunch of the similarly unlikable party members that pursue him, either.
With the story only told through some ham-fisted dialogue (some important history of the world is shoved, improperly, into a random elder’s conversation with Zack, for instance), it’s easy to lose interest. I found myself quite quickly smashing X through some long winding conversations when the first dialogue box reveals the standard fetch/travel quest you’re about to embark upon. The story’s a wash, then. But how about the battle system?
Fortunately, there’s a lot more to praise here. The battle system takes place in a classic 2D, turn-based fashion, though there’s a lot more depth than that. You can set your party into a formation – which takes place on a 3 by 3 grid – which designates them as either vanguard, midguard or rearguard. It’s generally a unique way of structuring a party and allows for some creative tactics. If you want one character to be the focus of the damage, keep them on the frontline alone. If you want to spread it out, load your vanguard full of three characters and have the others assist from the rear.
This is fine, then, but how’s the actual fighting? Not bad, really. You’ve got options – aside from the usual item selection, you’ve got the option for a basic, one hit attack (which won’t use any of your finite MP or action points), a skill (using the latter of those resources), or a form of magic. Skills are an effective way of inducing status effects or committing to a high damage combo, whilst magic can be either supportive spells or area of effect spells, with some also causing status effects. It’s an interesting, though basic system, but it’s perfectly functional and often quite enjoyable. The enemies have their own formation on a 3 by 2 grid but lack the more finite details your own party’s structure has, though that’s often not an issue. There’s at least a lot more depth and enjoyment to be found in the game’s combat system, if you’re inclined to enjoy it.
The game is displayed well, graphically, too. The exploration of areas is in a sprite form, and to be fair, it all looks great for the style. The dialogue in cutscenes has some apparently hand drawn portraits of the characters, emoted to match their emotion in scene – but without wanting to sound overtly harsh, they’re not the prettiest character portraits you’ll see. Perhaps the only significant gripe about the game’s presentation is from the rather dull soundtrack, with the selection of 10-15 songs throughout the entire game leading to some oft familiar sounds. When they’re lacking in quality, too, it makes their reappearance notable. They do also seem ill-fitted for their environment, sometimes, which is a shame.
Asdivine Hearts, then, rounded out as a disappointment. Though the story came across as a complete failure, the combat system can offer some redeeming aspect to those more inclined to enjoy a turn-based RPG game, even if there are perhaps better options elsewhere.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.