Asguaard ReviewMartin Zmijewski
Upon seeing the title, Asguaard, I originally thought it would be a game set in Norse mythology. Sure the title is spelled differently than the land from Norse mythology I still imagined the game would have something to do with the mythology. After only a few minutes of playing I realized it would have nothing to do with Norse mythology, fortunately it did turn out to be an interesting game filled with hours and hours of game play. And a great throw-back to the days of old school RPGs.
The game begins as the main character, Glen unless you choose to change the name, wakes up in a strange cottage with no memory of where he is. After wondering through the mountains he collapses to wake up surrounded by a bunch of dwarves. You quickly discover that the dwarves and fairies of the land summoned a human to save their world from a great evil that has been unleashed. The dwarves believe they do not possess a soul. Since humans have been granted a soul the people of Asguaard believe a human is the only person who can save their land. After stumbling on a second human, Rayanne, the result of a previously attempt of summoning a human thought to have failed you begin the long journey to rid the world of the evil unleashed when Pandora's Box was open.
There are only a handful of characters for the player to control, Glen, Rayanne, Grom the dwarf, and Luby a unicorn. While I often enjoy tons of diverse playable characters in a RPG the limited number in Asguaard allows them to be fleshed out so much more. Glen is the cocky teenager who cracks jokes from the real world where he came from who grows into a strong hero. Rayanne is a frightened young girl who wants nothing more than to return to her home but in return develops into a strong character who helps save the world. Then there is Grom the dwarf and thought he believes he has no soul he proves his worth as the teacher and guide to Glen and Rayanne on their quest. Even the villains are interesting, though sometimes comically over the top.
Asguaard is filled with countless hours of game play. While the main story probably takes about 40 hours to complete there are many things that would pull most players away from it. Most people who play this game are going to be the type of person who would wish to wander off and explore the world. And Asguaard offers many opportunities to do so. There are many new abilities to discover or upgrade and tons of treasure and stronger weapons hidden deep in random caves or dungeons. The dungeons alone are expansive, requiring some time just to get through, with countless twists and turns, some leading to treasure or a boss or a way out, others a dead end.
Before starting off the game, like in many others, you are given the opportunity to choose the difficulty level. Asguaard contains the usual difficulty levels of easy, normal, and hard but than throws another at you, Story mode. This gives the player easier fights to blow through quickly so there is more time focusing on the story. Players can also choose how often they run into random fights, ranging from every 8 steps to every 40. Giving the poor and unimaginative battle system story mode might be the best choice. The battle system is a typical turn based fight with barely any challenge to it, even on normal mode which I used to play through the game. Even the graphics during battles were not very impressive. I feel that if there were some type of animation during the fights they would not have been so difficult to sit through. I would often find myself cringing as I ran into a random fight.
Though the story was interesting with its twists and turns there is one major problem with the game that made it difficult to get through and not the battle system I just mentioned. The dialogue was just bad and at times it felt unbearable. Being a fiction writer I know it can sometimes be difficult to create believable and engaging dialogue. Asguaard is just unbalanced when it comes to the writing. The story is deep and well thought out but then the dialogue just brings the whole thing down. The game could have benefited from some better dialogue. Well that and an editor, as there were numerous grammatical errors also. With that said thought the dialogue was not the best it did not hinder the player's ability to follow the story. I remember some of the dialogue in old RPG's being somewhat cheesy and often uninteresting but Asguaard is something different.
Despite the bad dialogue I stuck with the game. In the end I was glad I did, though others may not have the same patience. As a throw-back to the days of classic RPG's when playing a game meant doing just as much reading as getting through a long novel, an old school turn based battle system, and Anime inspired sprite-like character design Asguaard definitely succeeds. Playing Asguaard I was brought back to a time when I was much younger, when I was first discovering a good story could be the most important part of a game.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.