Astra: Knights of Veda, the beautiful JRPG surprise of Steam Next Fest, sparks a comical emotional roller coaster ride.

Gorgeous JRPG is a Jovial Jenga of Joy and Despair

Well, color me excited and then slightly disjointed, almost the way you'd feel after a third cup of coffee on a Monday morning. When I stumbled upon Astra: Knights of Veda on the golden platform of Steam Next Fest, for an unguarded moment, I thought I had discovered a secret treasure from the Vanillaware kingdom. Sadly, no such luck.

Its aesthetic allure fooled me into thinking it was a much-anticipated Vanillaware piece—Unicorn Overlord, the misnamed strategic masterpiece of the RPG realms. The appearance of Astra: Knights of Veda, with its vibrant illustrations and etched like a side-scrolling JRPG, surely matched the expectations, until the gameplay started.

As it dawned on me that it was a gacha game, my initial excitement deflated faster than a poorly made soufflé. It was like expecting to spread strawberry preserve on your toast and instead finding spicy mustard. It was still something, but not quite what I had in mind, to say the least.

To be absolutely honest, I have nothing against gacha games. I've indulged in Genshin Impact religiously for years, and our good old Honkai Star Rail still occupies its special place in my gaming slot. However, having another gacha show-up unexpectedly was like having a surprise guest over for dinner when your roast is already cooked for two.

Astra: Knights of Veda is undeniably a feast for the eyes, with its engaging combat style and earnest voice acting. Yet, the overlaying gacha structure, filled with typical hooks like log-in bonuses and daily challenges, turned the initial grandeur into a muddle of familiarity.

The game boasts everything from a global bank worth of currencies to time-limited character banners and a gear grind that was rather intimidating. It even has its own trademark fairy- the Paimon doppelganger. Unfortunately, none of these components struck me as particularly enticing or innovative behind its splendid façade.

My biggest issue with Astra was my reluctance to bring upon myself yet another colossal time investment, on top of the frustratingly similar mechanics from other gacha games. Even without my plate full of other gacha commitments, Astra's undeniable visual charm could hardly compensate for the lack of distinctive elements and novelty in its gameplay.

As we part ways, dear Astra, we need to chalk this up to our irreconcilable differences. I'll stick around for the announced Valheim-style survival game with Dark-Souls-style bosses because who can resist that. In a world filled with gacha stalwarts, I bid adieu to Astra, admiring its gorgeous looks from afar, hoping it finds an audience that appreciates it, gacha elements, and all.

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Quinton Johnson

Yo, it's Quinton Johnson! In the streets, they know me as that hypebeast always flexin' the latest drops. Sneaker game? Always on point. My collection's got some serious heat, and I'm always hunting for the next pair. And when the sun sets? You can bet I'm lighting up the courts on NBA 2K. From fresh kicks to sick 3-pointers, it's all about living the hype and shooting my shot. Let's ball!

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