It’s been almost five minutes since the last KEMCO game was released onto Xbox One, but Asdivine Dios is now here. Set in the same universe as all the other Asdivine games, luckily you don’t have to be familiar with the previous games to get into this one. As is usual for KEMCO, it’s a retro styled RPG set in a fantasy world, and as such promises an intriguing story with plenty of depth.
The story revolves around a man called Izayoi, the Deity of Asdivine; as in the creator, the omnipotent god of this entire world. He has the ability to cleanse the Murk, sending it to his spirit tree Yggdrasil, and has maintained peace in the world for millennia. The Murk is an important component of the story, and is generated by the humans that inhabit the world that Izayoi created. As these humans not only create Murk, but also despoil the natural order of things, Izayoi at the start of the story is very dismissive of them, feeling aloof and above them. Sadly, as our story begins, Izayoi has lost a lot of his magic, and must set out on foot to try and recover it, and his journey will force him to rub shoulders with the humans. Will familiarity breed contempt, or will he come face to face with humanity at its own level, and possibly learn to appreciate them a bit more?
As Izayoi adventures across the world, he encounters spirits that have been created throughout his long history. Iris, the first we come across, is the second oldest of these spirits, and has cultivated strong relationships with the humans in the village nearest to her Spirit Tree. As a consequence, she quite often has to help Izayoi understand what he is seeing, and with her knowledge of human food can name the best dish in each region we visit. Minerva, the second spirit, is the youngest, but is much more studious and scholarly than Iris, even to the point of using a book as a weapon in her fights, battering monsters with the corner of it. She appears to dislike Iris, and is constantly making snide remarks, which to be honest, Iris is too much of an airhead to notice. The last spirit is Freya, and she is the oldest by a long way, but still only looks about 20 despite having been around for over a thousand years. She is the motherly figure to the other two, but has a hidden depth of cruelty that only shows itself if her age is mentioned.
So, Izayoi has three female companions to assist him in his mission, and sadly it’s here that the game takes a bit of a detour into ‘Carry On’ territory. Despite Izayoi being the creator, and therefore almost a father to these three characters, they all fall madly in love with him and compete to try to win his affections. With “hilarious” misunderstandings occurring when a man turns up in a village with three women in tow, and all the secret whisperings that go on about him being some form of gigolo and so on, the story is pretty infantile in this regard. And that’s a shame, as the overarching story about the Murk overpowering the world, and the mission to stop it, is actually very interesting.
With the addition of Keith Glory, a mercenary with the best name ever in an RPG, and the baddies who may not be as bad as they first seem, the story of Asdivine Dios works well, but the whole subplot of romance could be left out and things would be better for it. However, there are multiple endings to be unlocked depending on which lady has the best relationship with Izayoi, so you do have to play the romance/gift giving game if you want to completely finish things.
Graphically and Asdivine Dios on Xbox One is pretty much a standard KEMCO game, with a nice retro style to the graphics, and the usual presentation of static cutscenes with the story portrayed in text boxes. The sound is pretty standard fare as well; stirring battle music, swishing swords and swooshing spells. The battle screen runs with the more familiar side on view, where the characters can use magic, skills, attack, or use an item. A new feature this time around is the addition of Unisons, which are attack chains involving two characters. These have to be set up beforehand, and each character can have a number of Unisons with different partners in their inventory, which when activated in battle they can have a devastating effect on the enemies. Getting the right combinations for the fight you’re in adds a layer of complexity that is welcome in a fairly simple battle mechanic.
Barrel Busters also makes a comeback, allowing you to play for either tickets, which only give low level gear, or for ADP, which are earned after battles and found in chests. Finding these ADP allows you to play higher levels of the game, giving better loot which can then be infused into the equipment your characters are using. As an example, my Minerva is running around with a Shaggy Almanac + 257, which pretty much destroys anything that she hits with a regular attack. This mechanic can make you very overpowered, so use with caution, as so far I’ve not lost a single boss fight, and I can pretty much leave the AI to fight automatically in most cases.
There aren’t many things to complain about from a gameplay point of view. The enemies are simply coloured differently, but still the same character model, but this is usual in these type of games. Izayoi does however have a weird way of moving in the game screen, seeming almost to slide about the place without moving his legs, and he still manages to get hung up on corners. The controls are also not precise enough when you need to move through screens with spikes in, leading to annoying wounds that you only really notice when you start a battle and each person has only 1HP!
All in all then, Asdivine Dios makes a decent fist of being a good old fashioned RPG. The romance storyline is a lowlight, but the rest of the story, and reasons behind the actions of characters is quite sensitively handled. The graphics are appealing, the combat is good but not overly challenging due to the ease of getting powerful weapons, but it just about does enough to make me recommend it fans of the genre. There are better KEMCO games out there – Asdivine Hearts and Revenant Saga for example – but there is fun to be had here, at least if you can look past the vaguely incestuous romantic angle…