Developer: Kemco / EXE Create
Release Date: 04/14/16
The company Kemco has been developing and publishing games for pretty much as long as I’ve been playing them. From their ports of the original MacVenture games Deja Vu, Shadowgate and The Uninvited on NES, to several under the radar, but noteworthy SNES RPGs (I’m quite fond of Lagoon and especially Dragonview), Kemco has always had something coming out and going on. Nowadays, not much has changed with the Japanese company, though their bread and butter comes by way of releasing traditionalist JRPG’a for various mobile platforms pretty much exclusively. These games can work as a short time waster, but I’ve played several (the majority by Kemco themselves) on my mobile device, and honestly couldn’t name one that offered enough of a standout experience or lasting impression for me to even remember the game’s title. I’m by no means saying they are bad games, just that they are rote and rather pedestrian, especially by today’s games standards, and even on the mobile phone platform where we are seeing the boundaries pushed as to what can be done with games constantly.
At this point you might be saying, “but isn’t this a review for a Wii-U game?” Well, Kemco has an extensive catalog of mobile titles at this point, and sometimes, some might find their way onto other platforms. Such is the case here, with Asdivine Hearts, a game that features the combined development efforts of both Kemco themselves and a small Japanese rookie developer, EXE Create. The game was original released for mobile platforms back in 2014, and has migrated to both the PC and the Wii-U, which is the version we’re looking at. Is it anything special? Does it break itself out of Kemco’s mobile JRPG mold, even a little? No, not really, but again, that’s not saying it’s an altogether poor game… just a by the numbers, predictable one.
Asdivine Hearts tells the tale of Zack and Stella, two orphans tasked with returning an injured cat creature to its native woods at the start of the game. When they find a good spot to let the critter go, they encounter a disembodied light deity who warns them that their world is headed for some truly dire times. In need of a body so he can get to work on saving the world and whatnot, the deity attempts to possess Zack, only to slip up, and enter the body of the cat creature instead. Because of this, you’re instead introduced to the character Felix, the talking cat deity, and rightful third member of our ultimately five person party. After some witty banter and a few cat jokes, we learn that just as there is a light deity, there is also a shadow deity, and it is he who wants to see the word burn in evil monster flames. As with all traditional JRPGs, this must be stopped, and Zack, Stella, and the cat embodied light deity Felix (who does NOT care for the name), must go about doing it.
Visually, Asdivine Hearts does a fine enough job distinguishing overworld, dungeon, and town stages with rudimentary, albeit reasonably detailed sprites. Dialogue pieces are accompanied by large character portraits that could easily have come from any number of fantasy based anime fair, and the battle visuals generally lend themselves to the experience in similar fashion. The sound effects and music are pleasant enough while playing, but easily as forgettable as any other aesthetic offering the game may have to show.
The combat system, to no surprise is equally as humdrum as the rest of what’s offered here. Along with the typical turn based, attack, cast magic, etc characters each utilize what’s called a Rubix Grid, which is a box of the sorts that can be fitted with various sized gems that grant status boons, magic immunity, and other special enhancements. Finding different gems and fitting the characters with the best possible assortments is probably the most enjoyment I derived from Asdivine Hearts. As the system reminded me a lot of the one in place in the game Children of Mana.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Asdivine Hearts isn’t a great game and it isn’t a bad game. Like many before it, it’s a rank and file JRPG meant to pass time as you ride the train on your mobile phone, the only difference here, is that the folks at Kemco thought this one was good enough to make a mark on a home based console. If you’re really scratching for a bog standard, traditional JRPG, Asdivine Hearts should serve you well. But I soon found my attention wandering off with this one a little to soon out of the gate.