After not seeing each other for two years, Zack and co reunite at the behest of their former traveling companion Felix: the Deity of Light. Stella is now an official monster trainer while purple-haired Uriel is now a renowned author/chainsaw enthusiast. Felix (still in her cat form) requests their assistance in helping her investigate a serious weather problem in another parallel world called Archelio. After explaining how Archelio is freezing over and becoming buried in an unnatural snowfall, the crew cross over via a portal created by Felix. Unfortunately, Felix fails to mention the side effects of the portal and the party loses all their fancy weapons and high levels, leaving you to start the game from level 1. You have to love the lengths developers will sometimes go to to explain why your characters have to start off fresh in the sequel. Anyways, the group meets up with Nadia, the Deity of Shadow and the final companion to join you on your trip. Luckily for you, she has a bag full of starter equipment for the group.
At least they tried to tie the character relations into some of Asdivine’s mechanics, though somewhat unsuccessfully. Each companion has a trust meter and a special ability tied to it. These allow special actions, like Stella being able to cross gaps in the map with her whip or allowing Felix to squeeze through small gaps in the wall in order to get to some treasure chests. The idea is that there are three stages of trust and that to be able to do the action required you must pass the trust requirement. However, a character’s trust level is displayed via a meter with a number that doesn’t actually indicate what level of trust they are currently sitting at. During my journey, I very rarely passed any of the skill checks required, frustrating the hell out of me and making me believe that the system wasn’t even working. It was only until the post-game content that I was able to actually succeed more often.
The battles are much like the ATB (active time battle) style turn-based fights found in Fernz Gate, the last KEMCO title I reviewed. You have six members paired up in teams of two. The character in the sub position can use items and magic, or they can opt to support the main team member’s action, which has a few benefits. Since Stella is a monster trainer, you can take one “buddy” into battle with you. These monsters have different abilities and attributes so it’s good to practice with a variety of combinations. More buddies can be found in the form of jewels. Each jewel contains a specific buddy. If you already have the buddy, you can either equip the jewel to be able to use its specific ability or use it to instantly grant the buddy five levels. And speaking of jewels, Asdivine introduces an interesting take on character customization. Aside from the usual armor and weapon load-outs, each character has a grid that can be filled with Tetris-like jewels that provides various bonuses. Usually, the more powerful a jewel is the more space it takes up. To take full advantage of the system, you’re going to have to cram in as many as you can maneuver. I thought this was a nice alternative to having accessories to equip.
While I have no complaints about the way Asdivine Hearts II looks, I do take issue with the all too common frame stuttering problems that it suffers from. It is an issue I often notice with EXE-CREATE titles. I’m not sure why this is, but I figured they would have it down pat by now. The music is a bit off as well. Not specifically the quality of the music, but in how limited it feels. There are about ten tracks. Weeping Girl is a beautiful one; easily the most somber. Warrior’s Blade is a high tempo track used in the battles. There will be times where the characters will be in the midst of a sad moment and then suddenly, the music will shift and BAM! Here comes the out of place rock track. It’s very jarring and detrimental to the mood the game is trying to set. All these quirks aside, I did enjoy the game. I sunk around twenty hours into it, which was enough to beat the game plus all the substories and post-game content. Asdivine Hearts II is worth the price if you need a retro JRPG fix, but there are better KEMCO titles out there.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Store page can be found here
Final Score: 6.5/10
+Interesting customization grid
+Nice bit sprites
-Oddly placed music
-Mild framerate issues