Astrune Academy - PS4 Review

Astrune Academy by developer Exe-Create and publisher KemcoPS4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher. 
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Astrune Academy is a cute little title with a real nostalgic kick back to old-school RPGs. With a colourful cast (elementally coded) and a storyline that was equal parts corny and compelling, Astrune Academy surprised me with how much fun I had playing through it. This wonderful adventure, brought to us by our friends at Exe-Create and Kemco, is sure to provide you with a fun distraction.

Astrune Academy follows the adventure of a group of students at the local prestigious magic academy. The tale is that of three young girls looking to make their way in the world and to graduate in order to become renowned magicians. Unfortunately for them, their world is one of strife, as not only are they at war with another group of people called the Horians, but there are demons and monsters that infest the land. Needless to say, not everything can go perfectly as planned, and the girls are drawn into a conflict that will have long lasting implications.

Now, Astrune Academy is a pretty interesting title, as it brings a lot of old school RPG feelings along with some interesting mechanics together. First of all, it's done in pixel art sprites and RPG maker style locales, invoking the nostalgia. The combat itself, and some mechanics implemented into the game, make it feel a little fresher and can help keep battles and exploration from getting stale or aggravating.

As you explore the world of Astrune Academy there are many interesting sights and people to see. As a turn-based random encounter styled game, Exe-create has decided to implement a few things to help keep players immersed in the world. In most areas, both towns and dungeons, you can explore for hidden paths and chests to collect items. Sometimes equipment, sometimes consumables. In dungeons and on the world map you can also find mana points. These mana points help with the use of talismans, one of the greatest mechanics I've ever seen added to an RPG like this. Essentially you've got three talismans, and each represents an encounter rate. One is for a default encounter rate, one is every step (basically a pixel or two) you get in an encounter, and one that reduces encounters, or basically eliminates them if you've interacted with a mana point. As an added bonus, mana points also increase your characters' stats.

There are sidequests to be found, thankfully indicated in your world map if one is available, stores and locales to explore, and people to meet. During the course of this, you'll be getting into many a fight. Combat is speed based turns, with skills having a modifier to increase or decrease wait time. Now, basic attacks have a chance to combo with other characters, but you also have skills you can use, both physical and magical, as well as character specific special abilities. Character specific abilities are a really cool aspect, and each is so different from the others that they really pop out well. For instance, one character can summon a demon to fight with you on the battlefield, while another gets a turn limited "super mode" where all their magic skills get enhanced.

Now, after you win a fight you can get a few things, in addition to experience and money. You can get tonics, skill coupons, ice shards, or premium currency crystals. Now, I know what you're thinking with that last one, but hear me out. While the game is set up like something you'd see on a mobile platform with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and it is available on mobile, that doesn't mean you're limited to those, either for "premium currency" or just completing tasks. For example, if a daily task is "defeat 40 enemies", and you defeat 80? It gets turned in twice and returned to your mission list as "defeat 40 enemies" again. Most repeatable style missions do this, and are indicated as such when viewing missions. Completing a set number of missions in each "short, moderate, long" mission category will give you a chunk of premium currency which you can exchange for items or purchase game modifiers (such as increased exp or gold rates). Now, keep in mind these chunks of "premium currency" are earned every time you complete a set number of missions, and are not time gated. There is a daily roulette you can spin though.

So, let's talk about the rest of those after battle items. They're all used for upgrading characters. For instance, tonics will increase certain stats, the skill coupons increase skill level, which also gains levels when used, and the ice shards are used for upgrading a specific character's special abilities. There are also other ways to increase character abilities as well, whether it's on a per character basis or for the full party. Now, I should point out that there is a really high level cap, but you unlock that in sections. When you hit a level cap that isn't the final one, you can bank experience that will take effect on the next battle after breaking the current level cap. Level caps can be broken at the meteor gym by completing a three part fight. 

A handy implement you get taught about fairly early on is the mini warp device. Essentially, this let's you drop a one-off teleport point that will let you warp to it until you put a new one down, or the storyline makes it unusable. You can also choose to auto-complete battles if the enemies are weak enough, although you only get the rewards, not the mission progress for the premium currency tasks.

Before we wrap up, I'd like to take a moment to say that I really liked the style Astrune Academy presented. From the pixel sprites while on the map and in battle, the old-school RPG format, the character portraits (and how you can swap between normal and battle modes), the engaging storyline and characters, to the really well done music, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Astrune Academy. As a wonderful added bonus, it's actually much longer than I expected given the appearance of the game.

Astrune Academy is a great RPG with some really nostalgic vibes with some common amenities thrown in. It has a neat cast, a good combat system, and a good soundtrack. I highly recommend taking a look into Astrune Academy, and hope you have as much fun with it as I did!

Score: 9 / 10



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