If the first Asdivine Hearts has passed you by and you’re jumping in green with Asdivine Hearts II, then you need not worry – KEMCO have thought of this, and helpfully included an in-game booklet to make sure you are up to date with the events. However, should you not wish to read that either, then in a nutshell, Light Deity and Shadow Deity have a scrap, make up, then have to take out the Creation Deity (who made them) to save the world. Make sense? No, me neither. However, what with forewarned being forearmed, I set off into the world of Asdivine Hearts II to try make sense of it all.
Games like Asdivine Hearts II on Xbox One live or die on the narrative, and again this is a weird one to have to try to judge. The underlying story is interesting; going on about a parallel world called Archelio where it appears to be snowing all the time. The Light and Shadow Deities decide this is odd, and so get the band back together from the first game to investigate. Luckily, these guys have nothing better to do, and so they are soon on their way to a whole new world to figure out what’s what and who’s who. It is at this point that the main male character, Zack, appears to have the world at his feet. Every other playable character in the game is female, and guess what? They all have the hots for Zack. Yes, even the Deities, one of whom comes in the form of a two tailed cat – for reasons which are never really explained – think Zack is the bee’s knees. What this translates into is a series of conversations where Zack can build “trust” with the characters by interacting with them, and telling them what they want to hear. There are also gifts that can be given, that again raise the trust levels of the females. Once someone’s trust is high enough, it has a bearing on the end of the game – and it is there where I’ll say no more about it.
Asdivine Hearts II appears to run as a port from a mobile platform, and the first time you try to walk anywhere, you’ll notice those roots. There is an 8-way run function, but it’s very dimwitted: you can run up, down, left or right, but anything on a diagonal is very problematic. Quite often the character I was controlling would point blank refuse to go in a direction unless I ceased all directional input, then pressed the way I wanted to go. Making smooth progress through the levels appears to be all but impossible, sadly. Add to this random battles that take place every five steps and making any advancement, anywhere, soon becomes more effort than it feels like its worth.
Luckily, combat is a gloriously retro, turn based affair, allowing team attacks, magic, and trust based skills to be utilised. In a departure from the first game, new trust skills called microbursts are available which use 10% of the trust gauge, and change according to who is partnered with whom. The system is strikingly similar to the last KEMCO game I played – Fernz Gate – and this isn’t the only similarity. A lot of the monster models are reused from that game as well, and if I’m honest, was quite disappointed to see such a hash. We’re meant to be finding ourselves setting foot in a whole new world… what are the chances of the monsters evolving exactly the same?
Away from the combat and it’s very much RPG business as usual; explore the world, talk to NPCs to gain side missions, head to the Guild and battle in the arena, buy new weapons and armour, and rank yourself up. The Rubix system for socketing jewels has made a “triumphant” return in this game too, and this is a genuinely interesting way of developing your characters. See, as you progress along your journey, you will find various jewels which can be used to release buddies, or level them up if you have multiples. However, if you slot one of these buddy jewels into a character’s Rubix (a grid where the jewels can be rotated to make them fit), then you gain a magic attack from that jewel. With jewels that can boost magic points (MP) and hit points (HP) as well as vitality and other stats, all in different shapes, getting the maximum effect for the minimum wasted space in the grid soon becomes quite engrossing.
Visually and things in Asdivine Hearts II are presented in a charming retro style yet again, with minimal animation in the world screen. The combat is better, with larger depictions of the characters, and some surprisingly effective facial animation doing a good job of conveying pain or victory. The sound is passable too, all stirring music, magical swooshes and sword swipes. There is no spoken dialogue though – it’s all done by text boxes – but it’s fitting with the feel of the game as a whole. The translation sometimes leaves quite a bit to be desired though, but again, this fits with the charm being delivered.
All in all and you’ll probably find that Asdivine Hearts II is okay. I don’t mean to damn with faint praise, but the story is a bit of a mish mash, with missions that only seem to be there to pad the game out and make it last that bit longer. There’s no shortage of things to do though, in fact just when you think you have finished, you are given the opportunity to go back in time and a whole new chapter opens up – including that of a masochistic fairy who enjoys being stamped on – adding to the longevity. It just feels like the story could be about five hours shorter and not suffer for it.
On the whole though, the combat is good, and apart from the niggles with the controls, I enjoyed Asdivine Hearts II. You may well do too.