Asdivine Dios (Android) review
"A better-than-usual effort by Kemco that, despite some flaws, was fun."
Featuring a revamped battle engine, well-drawn and animated monsters, and a robust quest offering more than 35 hours of play, Asdivine Hearts was quite decent when it launched in 2014. It was plagued by a number of the usual issues developer Exe-Create's projects suffer from (a fairly small number of monster and dungeon designs and extremely verbose yet one-dimensional characters), but it still was reasonably well-received. So you know what that means: the team would waste no time plunging head-first into the world of sequels and spin-offs.
Four years later, Kemco has published one direct sequel to Hearts, as well as three games that are related only because they were released under the Asdivine moniker and share the same general appearance. The first of those was Asdivine Dios, which came out in 2015 and serves as the first entry in a two-game "mini-series". Take away the graphical style and fans might wonder exactly why the word "Asdivine" was even used. The world looks completely different than the one presented in Hearts, and the entire "light deity/shadow deity" dynamic presented there is nowhere to be found.
Instead, players are introduced to a new deity that runs the world. And in a definite change from the norm, he's the main character. Izayoi is a bit perplexed at the game's onset, because he seems somehow to have been stripped of the majority of his powers. This leaves him to serve as the sort of low-leveled adventurer we're all used to controlling in the early stages of an RPG. He enlists the aid of three of his most powerful spirits--Iris, Minerva and Freya--and the quartet wind up working to save the world from a vengeful man and the dark being who aids his quest for destruction for reasons unknown.
And you know what? This was a fun game. It took me about 30 hours to beat both the main quest and the post-game "true ending" content, and that time went by pretty quickly. When it comes to Kemco, that's no small praise. The publisher's design teams tend to release games that start feeling tiresome after 15 hours, if not less. While there weren't many new elements on display here, what was used tended to be stuff I enjoyed in previous games. As an added bonus, a persistent player can find all sorts of fun ways to break this game, turning hard-hitting bosses into pushovers.
That setup gave me a legitimate sense of accomplishment, something Kemco games don't often provide. A lot of bosses have a pattern where they open with a weak attack and then start blasting your party with over-powered spells capable of quickly decimating their health. However, by taking advantage of all the cool toys Dios hands your party, it's possible to crush many of the toughest adversaries before the second turn--and the hell they'll bring during that round--can ever arrive.
The first of those toys simply comes from how this game was marketed. This was the first Exe-Create game offering both premium and free versions. The free version gives you the entire game, but if you pay the handful of dollars for the premium version, you get 1000 points for its IAP store. Visit that store and you'll notice a number of items intended to keep players from needing to grind. One doubles your experience per battle, while another gives you twice the gold. A bit of smart shopping and you'll easily be able to progress from dungeon to dungeon, as opposed to likely finding yourself having to work a good bit to overcome tough adversaries.
Next, there's the weapon crafting system where, similar to Revenant Saga, you can take all those random weapons you find in treasure chests or as monster drops and absorb them into whatever gear you already have equipped to make it stronger. In case you're not finding enough fodder equipment to craft, never fear: Dios regularly hands you tickets that can be redeemed for low-caliber weapons that at least allow you to slowly earn points towards that next improvement.
Perhaps most important of all are the beautiful skills and spells you gain, as well as the unison attacks you can generate by using them to their greatest effect. As you play throughout the game, your special attacks quickly improve from "somewhat useful" to "really lethal." By accessing a menu, you can create unison attacks from two party members' skills or spells. These things might cost both characters their turn, but you won't care when you cast Armageddon and one-shot a boss with a devastating attack worth 500,000 hit points.
But I did enjoy Dios for reasons besides the major encounters I could turn trivial. In the previous Exe-Create game I'd played, Alphadia Genesis 2, I found dungeons to be annoying because they were little more than long, linear walks with very few side paths or anything else to distract me from boring navigation. Here, the company corrected that misstep, crafting dungeons that were at least capable RPG fare. There are a few key-finding and switch-pressing puzzles, a lot of arrow tiles zipping you along one-way paths and a number of traps, such as spikes and trap floors. I mean, there's nothing here that would prompt me to say this game has the best dungeons I've ever navigated, but they were competently designed and at least offered more than simple paths that take an eternity to walk.
For the most part, I'd call Dios a great game by Kemco standards, and a respectable genre entry by most others. However, there is one grating annoyance that keeps me from being overly enthusiastic about recommending it. Much like Asdivine Hearts, this game uses a "harem" system towards generating your party, in which the main character is male, his three sidekicks are female and part of the plot revolves around the girls crushing on the guy. Sometimes in villages, you have the chance to split up from your party and talk to each of the girls to raise their trust level and by the end of the game, there are multiple endings based on which girl's trust you raised the most, potentially setting you up with any of the three, or if you expended enough effort (and IAP points), them all.
In Hearts, this wasn't overly annoying, as it felt halfway organic. The hero was a super-nice (if dense) guy who always talked to the women about their troubles. These talks might have taken up time, but they never overcame the game's actual plot in significance, so they simply felt like one more facet of a fairly deep (by Kemco standards) game. Here, one could be forgiven if they thought the game was about hooking Izayoi up and that whole "bad guy wants to destroy the world" thing was just an inconvenient side-quest.
As you play, you'll constantly endure Iris trying to determine what these weird feelings she has around Izayoi are. Minerva will regularly zone out, imagining various situations playing out between her and Izayoi. Even the older and more mature Freya will start quietly pining for him. You'll consider gouging your eyes out during each and every awkward moment between our young heroes because they happen constantly and are between the same one-note generics you always find in Exe-Create games. For just one example, look at Iris -- the game's preferred choice for Izayoi. She's a spirit who is hundreds of years old, but she looks and acts like a precocious pre-teen on a sugar high simply because Exe-Create loves recycling that template.
Man, there's just something about how all this played out that annoyed the hell out of me. You have a plot involving a mysteriously de-powered god fighting against powerful foes with the fate of his world at stake and for large parts of this game, that plays second fiddle because either the original Japanese writer or the one translating the game for English audiences apparently was angling for a job penning pitifully lame romance novels for bored teens. And once again, a Kemco subsidiary simply can't get over the hump and make a purely enjoyable game.
Annoying story-telling habits aside, this is one of Exe-Create's better efforts. It possessed a fun battle system that I had a great time manipulating in order to overwhelm foes that would prove deadly if I couldn't quickly steamroll them. Maybe I did cringe a little bit whenever one girl or another wistfully pined over their desire for Izayoi, but when I was left to explore dungeons and fight monsters in peace, I had as good a time as I ever have with a Kemco game. Dump the romance subplots (or at least have them be handled by a writer capable of writing actual characters instead of generic templates) and the studio might even come up with something worth five stars from me! At least I can dream…
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (June 26, 2018)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
If you enjoyed this Asdivine Dios review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!