Coming from KEMCO, just for a change, is a retro styled RPG. Shocking I know, but this time there is a difference: Asdivine Menace is a direct follow on from Asdivine Dios. In all the KEMCO games I’ve played to date, and there seems to be a lot, this is the first direct sequel involving the same folk as previous.
Following on from the events in Dios, Izayoi finds himself 100 years in the future, with a funky new purple colour to his hair, apparently a side effect of the Murk he absorbed at the end of the second game. Asdivine, the world of which Izayoi is the deity, is not the only world in existence though, and in this adventure Izayoi is contacted by the deity of another world to say she has foreseen a future where all the worlds are completely submerged in the Murk. Obviously, this makes Izayoi somewhat concerned, and leaving his companions from the last game – Iris, Freya and Minerva – to mind the world, he sets off into the void to see what’s happening.
This somewhat convoluted introduction to Asdivine Menace leads Izayoi to eventually find three new companions on his journey through the worlds, again with each being a spirit; Ratona is a light spirit, Litany a shadow spirit and Noelle is, well, Noelle! As with Asdivine Dios, the relationship between Izayoi and the girls dictates which ending you will see, and by engaging them in conversation or by giving them gifts, you’ll be able to raise their trust level, and if that is high, alternative endings can be unlocked. It’s an interesting system, and working through the game with a particular goal in mind certainly helps to focus the mind; one misspoken phrase can see a lot of your hard work undone.
Asdivine Menace also introduces a mysterious deity, known as Nemesis. She seems to know Izayoi of old, and yet he has no memory of her. Why is she doing what she’s doing, does it have its roots in her relationship with Izayoi from the past, and why is she determined to fill all the worlds with Murk? These questions and many more will be answered as Izayoi and the team move through the worlds and uncover a plot with a scope that is breathtaking.
So, the story line in Asdivine Menace is certainly long and involving, but I can’t help feel that the game is somewhat bloated; there seems to be too much reliance on travelling from world to world in order to pad the running time out. Don’t get me wrong, as stories go it’s a cracker, it just could have had as much impact in about half the time.
As the story gradually unwinds, there are plenty of boss fights along the way, and as the team levels up, Menace suffers from the same lack of challenge as that before it. In fact, the game can practically be beaten on autopilot, and with weapons obtained from the return of the Barrel Busters mini game, they can be powered up into one hit K.O. implements. After you have defeated the final boss, you can choose to go back to just before the last fight, then do something different in order to unlock an extra story chapter. This, for me, is where Asdivine Menace really comes alive, with the discovery of each character’s most powerful weapon, and with the unlocking of their most powerful attacks, we see enemies that used to wipe the floor with the team, such as the large, screen filling dragons, become cannon fodder. Without a word of a lie, my team jumped from about level 70 when I finished the story the first time to over level 300 by the time I got to witness the true ending; by then Izayoi’s Grand Slash attack could one shot any enemy in the game. Even the final boss could then be defeated in two attacks, yet it has been such fun I have kept going back again and again to keep fighting and levelling.
The battle screen is identical to the one in Asdivine Dios, being viewed from a side on perspective and running turn based in style. Even the enemies look familiar, but as this is a game set in the same world I’m not too perturbed by this. Choosing to attack, use a skill, magic or an item, or even just to guard are the options at the beginning, and as you go on you’ll unlock the ability to use Unisons – powerful magic attacks that can be used by two characters simultaneously – which can be devastating in their effects. Interestingly, Unisons have to be set up before they can be used, and each character can have eight in place. The fighting is a lot of fun though, and choosing the right attack at the right time is just a part of the strategy. Should you go for all out damage, try to delay the enemies turn so more attacks can be unleashed, or have someone in charge of keeping the characters healed? Top tip: Level up Ratona’s Taste This! attack as early as you can, as any damage that is done, half is given back to the team as HP.
Graphically, Asdivine Menace on Xbox One is very much as you’d expect from a KEMCO RPG, comprising of colourful sprites, cutscenes played out in text format only, and impressive animations in the battle screens. It is certainly charming to look at. Noelle in particular has brought a smile to my face, as her Cheering Dance skill involves her doing a funky dance, with some cool moves. The animation in the main world screen is not quite so good, with Izayoi seeming to slide about on rollerskates, with the usual KEMCO problem of seeing him getting hung up on corners. The sound is again pretty much standard and full of growling monsters, swishing swords and stirring music throughout. The music this time around is quite good though, as each world has its own kind of musical ambience.
All in all then, Asdivine Menace is a must if you played Asdivine Dios, as it brings the story to a very satisfying end. Even if you didn’t, this game stands as one of the better KEMCO offerings, so if you have an interest in RPGs, or retro styled games in general, then I recommend you give this a try.