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Astrune Academy Review

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I should be in for some kind of award as this is the umpteenth KEMCO game that I have played in recent years. In fact, I’ve played so many that I dread to think how many hours of my life have been sacrificed on the altar of KEMCO. But here I am, losing more. 

The latest in question is Astrune Academy, and while it is yet another retro styled JRPG, there are a few differences between this and the usual run of KEMCO games. So, let’s go back to school and see what is happening, shall we?

Astrune Academy review 1
Is Astrune Academy standard KEMCO?

The plot of Astrune Academy follows some young girls who find themselves at a school for magic – the Astrune Academy, surprisingly enough. As the game opens, our heroines are about to embark on the practical phase of their education, joined on this endeavour by one of the professors. As the girls go through their training, they master new attacks, as you’d expect, as well as new magic, all before they are surprised by a turn of events that I won’t spoil here. Needless to say, from that point on our heroines are left to focus on trying to save the world as always. Whether they succeed or not is entirely up to you!

Having a chat about the presentation of the game and, as you’d expect, it is very much business as usual for a KEMCO affair. All the characters are designed in an anime style, all big eyes and tiny noses, and the girls’ uniforms are all different, which kind of defeats the idea of a school uniform, surely? Anyway, the rest of the game follows the standard pattern we have come to know and love from these games – explore an overworld and dungeons as a party, and when combat happens (and believe me, it will!) the screen changes to the standard side view of the battle, with turn based combat on display. 

The sound is pretty good as well, with the usual music and stirring battle sounds all present and correct. While none of the cutscenes are voiced, they still manage to carry the story pretty well. All in all, no surprises, for good or ill here. 

Now, the rest of the gameplay again follows the template established in the previous KEMCO games, with a few differences. The main one is that in Astrune Academy each of our heroines can learn unique magic, which opens up a whole new realm of possibility. The magic they use when entering into combat is known as Almacation, whilst the unique magic skills are known as Soul Source magic. These can turn the tide of battle, as some Soul Source magic allows one of the girls to summon some demon friends, increasing the amount of damage you can do, while another raises elemental damage, reducing damage taken. As you can imagine, that comes in pretty handy. 

Astrune Academy review 2
It certainly gets a bit tasty

I guess at this point I should introduce the heroes, no? Well, we have three girls that we have control of from the start of the game – Elnatt, who has a distressing tendency to turn into a demon when she uses magic (which causes all sorts of hilarity, as I’m sure you can imagine), Mimosa who comes from a rich family that is in charge of making the majority of the magical tools that are used throughout the world, and Spica. Spica not only has an “instinct” about lessons, which means she doesn’t really need to work at her studies, but she also has money worries, so swings and roundabouts!

After the shocking events at the start of the game, the original three are joined by a fourth young sorcerer, Snow, and with her arrival, the party is complete, and the journey can begin. 

The rest of Astrune Academy is pretty much the same as other games that have come before, and this is not totally unexpected. As you explore the world, there are side quests to find and complete, in addition to the main story quests, and as usual, you will need to go out of your way to complete them all. 

As the team grows in experience, they will learn new attacks and additional bits of magic, but on the flip side the enemies that you face will also increase in ferocity, so trying to keep ahead turns into a bit of an arms race. One thing to mention here is that the difficulty is a little bit higher than the usual fare – normally you can just turn on auto battle as soon as you enter a fight and leave the game to it, but this turns out to be a bad idea. You have to stay engaged in Astrune Academy. 

Astrune Academy review 3
One of the better KEMCO games of recent times

In conclusion, the difficulty spike found in Astrune Academy helps to increase the feeling of accomplishment when you beat a tough fight. But from there, whilst the story is pretty good, there’s nothing you wouldn’t have seen in any KEMCO game previously. Thankfully, it is interesting enough to keep you playing, as you wait to see where the story goes. 

One of the better KEMCO games of recent times, if you like a JRPG, give Astrune Academy a try.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Harder than usual
  • Interesting story
Cons:
  • Not much new, feels quite familiar
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 June 2024 | £12.49
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Harder than usual</li> <li>Interesting story</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Not much new, feels quite familiar</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 June 2024 | £12.49</li> </ul>Astrune Academy Review
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