STAFF REVIEW of Asdivine Hearts II (Xbox One)

Friday, January 18, 2019.
by Brent Roberts

Asdivine Hearts II Box art Following up on the release of the classic RPG game, Asdivine Hearts, KEMCO has decided to roll the dice again and deliver the sequel, aptly named Asdivine Hearts II, for the price of $14.99. Now, the first one really won me over, so is it possible for lightning to strike twice with KEMCO delivering a game that is built upon the solid foundations of the original? Let's find out.

The original Asdivine Hearts was an amazing shot of nostalgic RPG gaming that offered a surprising amount of depth to it. Fittingly, KEMCO went the smart route, as they were of the the mindset that if it's not broken, don't fix it.

In this sequel, you will find much of the same that you have before, should you have played the first game, albeit this time with a slightly different twist. In the original, we learned that there was a clash between Light and Dark deities, however, in the sequel you will fight alongside both. It seems a bit confusing, but should I completely spoil the story of Asdivine Hearts? Believe when I say that there's a reason for the deity partners.

With regards to the actual story of Asdivine Hearts II, I have to say that this is where one of the biggest faults of the game resides. In the beginning of the game you have the option to observe an incredibly abridged description of the plot and story of the original Asdivine Hearts so you can get caught up to speed, however, while that provides somewhat of a backstory, it does very little to help set the stage for this adventure. Then, throughout the game, you're going to encounter the obligatory side quests, but the main quest feels watered down and almost forced this time around. Sure, all the quirky mannerisms of your characters return in their awkward, pseudo-erotic nature, but after going through the new story, it doesn't captivate me as the original did.

Your characters from before return, so there's some form of familiarity. Zack is apparently the only male in the story and is surrounded by women who fall in love with him, and throughout the game you'll be subject to some really subpar emotional writings based off how these characters trust Zack (which can be altered by giving gifts as well). You can essentially bribe women to fall for you, and a big way to do that is by giving said gifts. Hmmmm... any how, each character has within themselves a special ability to examine objects and items while venturing in the overworld. Some can read ancient inscriptions within stones, some can use a whip to bring the party across gaps to reach hidden areas and so on.

A classic RPG game, such as this, depends on the story to make it worthwhile and enjoyable, and with what I experienced, I do feel the game takes a hit here. Despite this, there is still quite a lot of redeemable qualities within Asdivine Hearts II, starting with the battle system. As you venture forth, you can have a support character that can do actions for you, such as using spells to defend fellow teammates, decrease the cost of spells for the main character, increase damage dealt to the enemy and more, so you get the idea. If you decide to utilize both your main and support in the same turn, you have the potential to do an incredibly powerful combined attack that is known as a union attack.

These attacks should be used sparingly though. In order to properly use one, you first must select a spell with your main character, as this will be the base for your attack. Next, you will want to see what support spells have a question mark next to them and select that. Should you do everything properly, you will see a tremendous magical spell (which is delivered in some amazing retro goodness which I'll touch on later) that deals an incredible amount of damage. Your attacks (of any type) build what is called the trust gauge, and it's from this front that you will utilize these immensely powerful attacks.

Visually, Asdivine Hearts II seems to be in the recycling business. Not only do the graphics feel identical to the previous release, but each house/cave/business/castle feels similar to every other one and looks completely identical too. What's even worse is that the game's enemies also are almost taken straight from the original game and only given new facelifts and colors. There is very little originality and thought into this area, and to me it indicates that not a lot of effort and innovation was utilized to create a unique environment. I will state however, that if you're looking for a pure trip of nostalgia, then Asdivine Hearts II delivers but for fans returning from the first game it will seem very limited in scope.

One of my favorite aspects from the first game makes its return, and that is the Rubix system. For those who haven't played the first, or read my review, the Rubix system is what allows you to develop your character's bonuses by socketing jewels. You start with a basic grid layout, and through your battles and collected chests, you will be able to socket various shaped jewels that will grant bonuses to your character's stats. Also, you can combine jewels to make more potent ones, or if you're lucky, utilize them as one of your new companions.

Not all jewels are made equally, and some do contain monsters within them that, should you use them, will actually fight alongside you, or can be called upon to access their own skills for a fight. How you decide to use these types of jewels will impact your battles greatly, so make sure you get accustomed to trying different arrangements with different characters to see what works best for you. Should you also feel the need to battle these monsters, you can use them within an arena in the game where the more difficult the battles, the bigger the prizes are.

All of this aside, I must make a note here that the control system of Asdivine Hearts is just as hyper sensitive as it was before. What that means is that your 8-way directional movement when walking doesn't always function properly, and you find that walking around becomes a challenge in and of itself. Not really the best thing to do when you spend 1/3 of your time reading, 1/3 fighting and the other 1/3 walking around. Then when you factor in the random enemy occurrences and you are left with the reality that your movement now is broken, and you will have to start it all over again.

Asdivine Hearts II tries to deliver a sequel, but the story isn't as captivating as the original, the graphics feel recycled and the movement feels jerky as opposed to fluid. While some attempt at innovation tries to bring about some wonderful new aspects to the game, sadly Asdivine Hearts II falls short of bringing an adventure that felt fresh and new. I wish I could recommend this game, but at $14.99 it breaks my heart.

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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