Astor: Blade of the Monolith – Review
Follow Genre: ARPG
Developer: C2 Game Studio
Publisher: Versus Evil, tinyBuild
Platform: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Tested on: PC

Astor: Blade of the Monolith – Review

Site Score
Good: Fantastic art direction
Bad: Many gameplay elements feel pointless or tacked on
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

We imagine that Astor: Blade of the Monolith has been on the radar of many gamers ever since it was first revealed under its original title, Monolith: Requiem of the Ancients. The game’s trailer certainly looked impressive enough, and as we’ve seen with the success of titles like Oceanhorn 2 and Wavetale, players are always clamoring for Zelda-likes on non-Nintendo platforms. Meeting players’ expectations is a tall order to fill, of course, so the obvious question is whether or not developer C2 Game Studio could achieve just that. Read on to find out if they did.


Our story opens with our hero, Astor, stumbling upon the legendary Blade of the Monolith. Of course, this leads to a prophecy about a Chosen One tasked with saving the world, and we assume you can already guess who this is. Astor’s main plot isn’t exactly original, although there was an attempt to flesh out the history of the ongoing conflict between the peaceful Diokek tribe, where Astor hails from, and the Hiltsik, who are the bad guys. Unfortunately, Astor squanders the opportunity to flesh out the world and its characters beyond the bare necessities. This makes it difficult to genuinely care about the NPCs, because not enough time is spent on creating an emotional connection between the player and the cast. We found it difficult to care about the different characters we ran into. Many of them just appear once because the story demands it, but lack the personality needed to draw the player into the world.


Perhaps the best part of Astor is the game’s art direction. Both character designs and environments look fantastic. There is plenty of variety here too, from dark forests with glowing, bioluminescent plants to scorching deserts. Visual performance is good, with the game aiming to keep up a steady frame rate and mostly succeeding. There is the occasional clipping going on, but that’s a minor gripe all things considered, and overall Astor nails its visual execution.


The story of Astor is told by a female narrator, who provides the only real voice acting in the game. The in-game characters communicate in squeaky gibberish, except Astor himself, who is your typical silent protagonist. The narrator does a great job, however, and her presence is often necessary to provide context. Aside from the voice work, Astor also boasts a decent soundtrack that fits the adventurous atmosphere that the game goes for. That said, the overall audio quality could be better, as the sound isn’t always as crisp as it could be.


Prior to making Astor, C2 Game Studio’s releases were limited to mobile games, so it stands to reason that the ARPG is their most ambitious undertaking yet. Even so, Astor feels very much like a by-the-book game, rather than a passion project. All the familiar elements are here: you’ll solve simple puzzles, make your way through levels that involve light platforming, and fight enemies in hack-and-slash combat. There’s a boss battle waiting for you at the end of each level, there are side quests to complete and secrets to discover. It’s about as straightforward that a game like this gets. Now, we don’t mind it when a game gets back to basics and presents itself without unnecessary gimmicks. Astor, however, isn’t cut from that kind of cloth. This isn’t a game that wants to return to the essence of the genre it embodies. There is no rhyme or reason here: gameplay elements simply feel like they are present because this is a video game and well, other video games also have these elements. We often found ourselves wondering what the point of certain mechanics was. The game offers a variety of weapons, for example, but these fundamentally all act similar. The only time a weapon swap was actually needed was to beat one particular enemy, leading to the question of why different weapons are present in the first place.

It’s a question that keeps echoing throughout Astor. Why implement an upgrade system if you’re handing out upgrade points like free candy, making it unnecessary to actually put effort into side quests to earn more of them, for example? Or what about Astor’s ability to ‘see’ secret paths in an alternate reality? It’s an idea that could be fantastic had it been handled well, but its existence is made obsolete because the game insists on telling you when you should use this ability, completely bypassing the point. The game seemingly insists on holding your hand, and any semblance of freedom is removed by arbitrary invisible walls that prevent exploration. It’s an odd approach for a semi-open-world game. Then again, there is very little reason to go about your surroundings beyond the path the game lays out, because there is so little variety when it comes to things you can discover. It’s probably not fair to compare a small-scale title like Astor to something as grand as Tears of the Kingdom, but it does feel like it was what C2 Game Studio was striving for… except they completely missed the point in the process.

That’s not to say everything is terrible here. The game’s Runic Blade system, which allows our hero to summon minions to fight alongside him, is a fun addition, for example. And perhaps because Astor plays things so safe, it’s also a mechanically sound game, at least when it comes to the core ARPG gameplay. Clocking in at around 10 hours, Astor doesn’t overstay its welcome either, although there isn’t enough depth here to justify the €24.99 price point. As far as we’re concerned, Astor is one of those titles that you pick up when it’s heavily discounted, gathering dust until you’re bored and are looking for something different that still feels familiar and comfortable. It’s the video game equivalent to getting the value meal at McDonald’s: you know you’re not exactly getting a quality product, but it’s good enough to satisfy your craving.


Should you give Astor a shot? We wouldn’t go as far as to say that the answer is a resounding no, but there aren’t a whole lot of arguments in favor of C2 Game Studio’s PC and console debut. The plot is as cliché as it gets and many of Astor’s gameplay elements don’t feel like they add substance and are just there because the developer saw the need to tick a box. Astor is a game that lacks an identity of its own. The art direction is good, and the core gameplay is mechanically sound, but that’s not enough to really recommend Astor, especially at full RRP.

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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Astor: Blade of the Monolith - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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