Asta is one of those online MMOs that feels like every time it takes a step forward, it takes two steps back. There were elements I loved and wished could be found in more conventional MMORPGS and others that left my virtual experience severely lacking. While I can’t say there is a large ‘awesome’ factor going on here, there are aspects that may make Asta worth – or not worth – checking out.
Character Customization Down to the Eyebrows!
I love being able to customize my characters and Asta delivers on that front in spades. There are customization options through the roof from presets to micromanaging how the eyebrows appear. I had to force myself not to spend several hours not adjusting every small facet of my character’s appearance before I went with a few basic appearances. I quickly moved on to choose my faction, Ora, and leapt into the world with my character.
World Quests Can Pop-Up at Random
One of the falling outs I’ve always had with MMOs is how they feel so linear when it comes to their questing system. Obviously, this comes with the territory when playing in this genre in particular, but it can depend on the title. Asta, however, does go out of its way to guide players toward exploring rather than just following the next brightly lit yellow exclamation point.
I didn’t even realize world quests were a thing until running through one area and receiving a notification to kill some beasts in the area. I stopped to see what it was about and gladly participated, going through the area to blast every evil creature in sight. There were a few world quests I didn’t participate in; most involved eliminating a certain number of creatures or gathering supplies. Still, on the other hand, it provided a nice surprise considering I’m a person who often solos rather than groups up with other players. I encountered a few helpful players who would step in to help me kill a beast before going on their way. If I accidentally attacked the same beast as another player, they would step back and let me have the kill. I returned the favor and it made for a nice dynamic with other players drawing the aggro from stronger monsters if I had a hard time defending myself.
Read the Fine Print For the Quest
This might be considered a nitpick, but it deserves attention for the issues I encountered when trying to read the quest text in Asta. I wear glasses, and unfortunately this interferes with how readable text can be on the screen. Most of the time, this isn’t an issue since the text in many games is big enough for me to read clearly or the characters are voice acted. The text in Asta is so minuscule I found myself leaning forward in my computer chair to squint at the screen. I could barely make out the words even then and most of the time just went to go do the quest according to on-screen prompts. This is a shame too since of what I could read, Asta had a rich lore and storyline working in its favor.
My hopes were raised when I found an option to adjust text in the menu, but it was all for naught when the changes were only applied to floating text over NPCs and onscreen prompts. None of it applied to the text for the quests, disappointing since for the first time an MMO had come along where I did want to read every quest before accepting the new task.
The Allocation System Might be a Deal Breaker
The allocation system refers to giving players the ability to level their characters as they see fit. Each level is given a few points for players to spend that can go into different areas like increased health, attack, etc. I personally enjoyed the system, but I imagine not everyone is going to be a fan of it. Putting points into the wrong areas of a character early on could put players at a disadvantage when getting involved in the PvP aspects of Asta.
On the other hand, this level of customization gives players a greater control over their characters. Players can pump points into areas that complement their play style for an advantage in later levels or up against other players. I chose to play as a mage and most of my points went into increased damage, health, and having extra magic available for my character. I’ve played around with allocation systems in the past and they’re okay. Players who aren’t familiar with this system should use the opportunity to hit up a friendly conversation with more experienced players and see what’s recommended for the class they choose.
The Oriental Art Style is Refreshing
I will give Asta props as it has a gorgeous backdrop. The premise is there are fallen gods who did not reach Nirvana. The rivaling factions, Asu and Ora, are warring against each other. The Asu are part of the bigger world of Samasura who exist in the realm of life. Ora is the other realm ruled by the dead, which also exists in the same world known as the Umra.
The colors are vibrant, which adds a cheerful and mystical atmosphere to the areas I explored, motivating me to stop and enjoy the scenery. I chose to play the Yayo race, whose inspiration seems to stem directly from Kitsune or spirit foxes from Japanese Mythology. My time was spent walking through villages arching up into the sky, collecting fox orbs, and hearing stories about the 1000-year-old fox. No matters where I turned there were NPCs walking around or monsters lingering ready to be killed. Seeing how much detail went into just one race and its culture, I had to admit it’s a nice introduction compared to the usual fare of elves and dwarves I’ve grown used too.
Questing & Battling Can Feel Stale After a While
Asta is gorgeous, but unfortunately it suffers from a similar formula many MMOs I’ve come to play suffer from. I understand the necessity for having fetch quests and eliminating X amount of monsters, but it grows stale here. The quests are repeated constantly in the early stages and don’t let-up much in later levels. Most of the time I could barely discern the main story line beyond “go here and kill this enemy.”
Battling falls in a similar fashion too and feels like there is not much skill required to beat down NPC monsters. I chose to play a mage Yayo, hoping to face a bit of a challenge while leveling. Most of the time I stood in a corner, spamming a couple of attacks until the enemy would die. I did have to use some skill in higher levels to beat stronger monsters, but again it defaulted to just knowing where to stand before attacking.
All around the gameplay is average, considering the drawbacks and inclusions to get players involved in the world. The only issue I had with Asta is the combat system feels oversimplified and almost no skill is required to progress at a fast pace. This can also be a strength though, since anyone can leap in and not worry about a steep learning curve.
Asta does a good job of providing players with the motivation with rich lore and even richer environments to explore. One addition I adored is having a string of lights I could toggle on and off that would guide me to the next quest. If I became lost, I didn’t have to wander around for several hours looking for the area I had to be in with nothing but an arrow to lead me. Wandering off the beaten path is even encouraged because random events will pop-up that players can participate in for extra experience or in-game currency.
The player base in Asta is one of the friendliest I’ve encountered in a long time and I have to wonder what prompted the good cheer. Not once did I encounter a player who would steal a kill or ask me to leave if I was questing in an area populated with an overabundance of players. Other players would step in to help me kill monsters if I was being swarmed or back off to let me finish one off. Common courtesy is strong in this community, I almost didn’t want to leave because everyone was being so nice.
Asta is not the most stunning of MMOs out there, but for what it lacks in graphics it makes up for in character. Players are encouraged to explore, participate in spontaneous events with each other, and are rewarded for their explorations. The lore (when I could read it) is rich and the vibrancy of the world had me falling in love with the scenery. The music is pleasant too, I wanted a copy of the soundtrack as it set such a nice ambiance for the rest of the game.
Value for Money 6/10
Asta is free-to-play and from what I could see there wasn’t any limit to how much a player could quest and level. This is a nice change since not every MMO I’ve played welcomes their player base with open arms and still keeps everyone on the same level. I liked being able to play with people who couldn’t gain an immediate advantage over me or were restricted just because they didn’t want to drop a few extra bucks to play a game.
Overall Score 6.5/10
Asta is a decent MMO with a friendly community, alright playstyle, and motivates players to travel off the beaten path. The chance to have a non-linear experience is even encouraged with spontaneous events that happen throughout the world. It’s beautiful and has its own charms. If lore and exploration interest you, I’d say give it a shot.
+ Excellent character customization
+ Amazing community
– Too many boring fetch or kill quests
– Bland combat
– Dated graphicsRelated: ASTA, F2P, MMORPG, Polygon Games, Review, Steam