Astor: Blade of the Monolith Review

Astore Blade of the Mountain header

It’s hard work being a young Diokek warrior. One moment you are minding your own business, exploring some ancient ruins, and the next you’re discovering a legendary sword and are tasked with saving the entire world from sinister forces! Turns out you’re a long-prophesied heroic saviour. Typical.

And so begins Astor: Blade of the Monolith, a fast-paced Zelda-like action RPG. And fast-paced the game certainly is! There is no mucking about with long introductions and tedious tutorials here; Astor has their sword and starts their quest within a few minutes of the game booting up. This efficient and effective storytelling is a breath of fresh air. Throughout the quest, the game keeps never-ending text boxes and long-winded waffle to a minimum; Astor’s fellow Diokek’s clearly know this hero has got a lot of saving the world to do, so they keep their exposition welcomingly concise. As such, Astor: Blade of Monolith has a pleasing arcade quality that suffuses its otherwise standard action RPG experience.

Astore Blade of the Mountain visuals

Visually, Astor: Blade of the Monolith is rather lovely too. Sure, the environments themselves are standard video game fare – dark caves, forests, deserts, you get the idea – but they are pleasingly designed with a chunky cartoon aesthetic that sets the game apart from its many contemporaries. Seeing the wind rustle through the red leaves, shrubs, and long grass of the forest world, even teasing Astor’s cloak playfully, was an unexpected visual treat for what is a budget-priced game. It’s a shame that the environments are so empty. Wandering back and forth across a desert, you’ll encounter handfuls of enemies but there is little of interest to lure you from the path to your next dungeon.

Thankfully, the dungeons themselves are much more interesting to explore. Though gameplay-wise the experience is akin to a My First Zelda, there is still fun to be had. After all, all the elements you would expect are present. There are weapons and tools to gather, puzzles to progress through, foes to best, and big bosses to battle. Nothing to blow you away perhaps, but there is a certain satisfaction to be had from a decent adventure that’s reliably delivered with classic mechanics.

Astore Blade of the Mountain combat

Combat, again, is reasonable but lacking in heft. Astor can swipe and slash their sword like the best of them, but it never feels like a foe is being hit. Indeed, were it not for diminishing health bars, it would be hard to tell if Astor’s intricate combos were having any impact whatsoever. Everything feels a little flat. Even when Astor juggles opponents with an air combo, rarely do you feel like there is any contact or connection. The same goes for incoming enemy attacks, their lack of visual commitment makes them difficult to read. Successful dodging and parrying then, is far more down to luck than skill.

Mind you, with a gentle difficulty curve and minimal hassle, even with the lacklustre combat, Astor: Blade of the Monolith proves an enjoyable means to while away a few hours.

Summary
Astor: Blade of the Monolith offers an enjoyable action RPG experience with charming visuals and character design. However, with weak combat and a lack of things to see and do in the overworld, it’s an experience that will soon be forgotten.
Good
  • No faffing about, gets to the action
  • Lovely carton visuals
  • A solid Zelda style adventure
Bad
  • Combat lacks energy
  • Open world areas are lacking in content
6