Another day, another Asdivine game, or certainly that’s how it’s beginning to feel. See, looking back over my history with KEMCO, this will be the 13th KEMCO gameI’ve played in recent times, and the fourth with that magic word “Asdivine” in the title. We know by now that any and all KEMCO experiences generally run as a retro styled RPG, usually involving a lone man finding a bunch of companions who happen to be women, before much adventure and hilarity ensues. Obviously KEMCO subscribes to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy – as once more that is exactly what is on offer here with the launch of Asdivine Kamura.
Asdivine Kamura revolves around the adventures of Shiki, the Spirit Deity of Asdivine, who has been ousted in no uncertain fashion by Zaddes; a real baddy. Shiki’s power has been sealed away in Mystic Orbs, and thus he must retrieve these to get his power back. All this must be achieved before he would have a chance of kicking the interloper Zaddes out of his throne, and thus the scene is set for a titanic tussle. As Shiki awakens in a world that he no longer recognises, due to the changes that Zaddes has wrought, he meets a young girl called Koyuki, who has been washed ashore after a boat she was in with her parents sank in a storm. Of course, this being RPG Land, Shiki takes Koyuki to go and look for her parents, and no-one bats an eyelid. And from there, after a little wandering, Shiki has soon amassed quite a merry band of followers. We have Sakura, a trainee priestess who loves eating monsters, Ayame, a ninja who thinks that Shiki killed her grandfather, and Shiranui, a shinobi who has fallen in love with Shiki and plans to marry him.
So far, so KEMCO, and the pattern continues in the style that we are used to: each companion can be spoken to at certain points in the game, and given gifts to raise their trust level. When these levels are high, they can perform certain tasks, like walking over lily pads or unlocking doors. The state of a character’s trust can also affect which ending you receive in Asdivine Kamura, so it’s well worth trying out different companions and raising their levels.
Graphically the game is as you would expect – retro styled visuals and the usual graphical flourishes in the battle screen. The game this time around seems to be set in a Feudal Japan type setting, and as a result the cameos from returning characters look a little strange. Maidame Curie and Joile Curie don’t look like they do in all the rest of the games, and even though the personality is the same, the appearance of them is a little off-putting. Felix the cat also returns, and seems to pop up all over the place; thankfully, finding and speaking to him does reward you with items.
In terms of the combat and battles are viewed from a side perspective, and are – once again – pretty much business as usual, except for the Harbingers. Each character can equip an item called a Magetama, which allows them to either summon a creature (a Harbinger) in battle or transform into said beast, gaining access to new attacks and support abilities if they do so. Summoned creatures just attack the enemies when their turn comes around, and can also take the heat off the four main characters by spreading the aggro around. Magic can be supportive or offensive, ranging from healing and buffing the goodies to poisoning all the enemies in one attack. Each character can also use items to revive any fallen friendlies; healing a single person or the team. In addition, “Limit Break” style attacks can be utilised to allow all the team to attack in one fell swoop. The battle system in Asdivine Kamura does work pretty damn well as a whole, and there is only one real issue with it. The over world and dungeon screens also work well, yet with every party member on screen at once, seeing five people following one another in a single file fashion does look a bit strange at first. But I’m not going to knock KEMCO for that and they’ve certainly delivered in the exploration stakes; it’s hugely rewarding, as cracked walls and invisible tunnels often lead to treasure. Keeping your eyes peeled is a good idea.
So, the story is good, and battles are pretty good fun, but sadly all is not rosy in the Asdivine Kamura garden. The usual KEMCO control quirks are here, but magnified due to having five characters all on the screen at once. Trying to walk through small gaps can be annoying, and getting hung up on corners is a problem, but these are usual for these games, and so are not worthy of much more than a special mention. What is a real issue though comes in the form of sudden spikes in difficulty throughout. As you progress, the majority of fights can almost be won on auto pilot, but each time a boss is reached the difficulty increase goes from a gentle slope to a vertical cliff, and I have been roundly stomped by almost every single boss in the game.
If I can use a culinary simile, it’s like eating a hearty bowl of sausage and mash, familiar and comforting. However, the chef has also scattered a handful of Carolina Reaper chilis through the dish, and when you find one as you eat, you immediately regret it. As an example, when I was trying to beat the boss at the end of story mission 60, I was level 105, and my team couldn’t touch it. Luckily, there are shrines in the dungeons that allow you to summon three consecutive fights, and doing so is a good way of grinding levels and weapons for synthesis. By staying at the shrine until the team were all over level 110, upgrading all weapons with the items received in the process, I was able to beat the boss and move on. I’ve had to do this every single time I have found a boss in Asdivine Kamura, and honestly after a while it gets a bit old. I’m all for a challenge in an RPG, but these spikes in difficulty make life a lot harder than it needs to be.
This isn’t helped by the pay-to-win approach that has worked its way into Asdivine Kamura, but it is mitigated somewhat by the ability to buy booster items with in-game currency. That’s all well and good, yet the fact of the matter is that the boosters that you can buy with real money are more powerful, and the pay-to-win ethos still exists. I don’t like this approach, and feel that the sooner this is discontinued the better.
All in all though and Asdivine Kamura on Xbox One does everything you’d expect of an Asdivine game from KEMCO, and as such is a worthy bearer of the name. The story is a compelling one, and I couldn’t stop until I knew what happened to Shiki, and even then, after the final fight, a new chapter opens up. The battles are fun and, control niggles and difficulty spikes aside, this a good game. Pay to win is still wrong in my opinion, but it isn’t as prevalent as in previous KEMCO titles, and so some small progress has been made, and that makes Asdivine Kamura worthy of a play through.