Originally released solely in South Korea, Astellia by BE&A is an ambitious project. A MMORPG where you enlist helper characters to do your dirty work, Astellia has both style in spades and cuteness by the cartful.
I was offered an open seat at the Merkaba bar in San Antonio, a couple blocks away from PAX South on Saturday night. In front of me was a copy of Astellia running on the lowest spec Razer laptop that BE&A could purchase, pulling from the active servers running in South Korea. Amazingly enough, the game was running flawlessly!
Certainly an eye-catcher at first glance, Astellia certainly knows its market. Blisteringly bright color palettes and gorgeous landscapes filled with detailed props, set pieces and creatures abound in all directions. The character movement is fluid and the summon animations of your ‘Astells’ — summonable NPCs that fight for you — are flawless. The soundtrack for the game is also orchestrated and top notch, rounding out the experience.
In the demo, I was provided a maxed-out character with a veritable army of Astells that I could summon, but unfortunately that did little to show me what progression was like. I breezed through the free-roaming monsters in the zone I was in and even took down a mob boss in a couple hits. I totally understand why they set it up this way, but it was still slightly disappointing to not be able to check out their starting zones so I could test out the waters of how the game’s systems work.
The artwork on some of the promotional material I received stated “Play to Win”, an obvious jab at the ‘pay to win’ strategies which a lot of Asian MMOs employ. After speaking to Westley Connor, the producer of the game, I see why they are strongly advertising it as such. He told me they are looking to redefine the appearance of that particular market and want players to know that they are going to have a great experience whether they choose to pay or not.