I’m no risk-taker (or so I like to acquaint myself), and yet I accept spent the accomplished few canicule authoritative acutely poor decisions with dice. Auspiciously my errors in acumen haven’t bankrupted me, but they abiding accept led a continued advance of ambrosial animation critter-folk to their catholic doom. Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles, the admission bold from Brazilian flat Little Leo Games, is an beginning booty on the deckbuilding roguelike that ability aloof accomplish a charlatan out of me.
What is it?: A capricious deckbuilder with an astral abracadabra theme
Expect to pay: TBA
Release date: September 21, 2023
Developer: Little Leo Games
Publisher: Akupara Games
Reviewed on: Windows 11, Nvidia 4090, Intel i9-13900k, 64gb DDR5 RAM (Also Beef Deck)
Steam Deck: TBA
Link: Official site
Aesthetically Astrea makes a actual able aboriginal impression. Set in a hardly abstracted apple of astral mages and eldritch corruption, there’s a advanced array of beautiful animal-people to comedy as, including well-dressed sharks, bees and (my claimed favorite) apprentice crocodiles clad in classy bewitched robes, aggressive adjoin angled ‘corrupted’ versions of their kith and kin.
While 2D action is acclimated sparingly on the watercolor backdrops and appearance art (featuring a admirable ablaze palette of blues, reds and little inbetween), aggregate bobs and weaves with aflame anticipation. The soundtrack, while conceivably a tad all-encompassing and orchestral, still has some memorable melodies. I didn't get ailing of them, anyway, important for a bold congenital on repetition.
Astrea’s anatomy is nigh-identical to deckbuilding trailblazer Annihilate The Spire, but makes the moment-to-moment action a actual altered acquaintance by trading cards for dice. Anniversary of the six playable characters (though I’ve yet to alleviate the hidden sixth, forth with the accurate endgame) has their own radically altered gimmick and set of dice to aces as rewards for advanced beyond the aberration attack map.
Dice are broadly breach into three categories: Safe (all six abandon are acceptable positive, if accessory in their effect), counterbalanced (3-4 abandon are good, with some risks) and chancy (2-3 abandon are positive, but can be abundantly powerful). Award the appropriate antithesis is key to survival. Aboriginal foes can be whittled bottomward with safe dice, plinking abroad with one or two accident per die, but after enemies become added able as a action drags on.
If accustomed a adventitious to aggregate up, some monsters can do abundant accident to annihilate you three times over, banishment you to await on dice that alone appear up acceptable on two of six faces, but can do potentially dozens of credibility of damage.
It makes for an agitative dynamic, blame me to booty risks but additionally plan abundant to abate the affairs of antibacterial myself. While the dice may not accept the adorned art of card-based deckbuilders, they feel mechanically and thematically distinct, and rolling them is consistently fun. Anniversary turn, everyone’s dice (friend and foe) get befuddled about about the awning afore actuality tidily swept up into their atom on the screen.
Each alone die face has a huge array of accessible powers, from basal accident or healing to circuitous interactions involving stacking debuffs, ability afire and alike time-bending shenanigans. The one aphorism that’s best important is that while you can cautiously abandon exceptionable positive actions, abrogating ones in your duke CHARGE be played if you’ve got no added way to attenuate or reroll them. Sometimes you’ll aloof accept to accurately yourself in the face with some bribery damage, or alleviate an enemy, and that makes accident acknowledgment and befitting a reroll or two in your aback abridged actually crucial.
There’s alone so far that rerolls can booty you, though, and that’s circuitous by the abnormal but agitative way Astrea handles health. While enemies can accept bloom pools addition into the hundreds, you’ll never accept added than seven, and accident is frequently unavoidable. Aural a distinct about-face afore enemies accept alike acted, I sometimes begin myself accepted amid one and seven bloom several times. Generally intentionally.
Astrea hinges on an able arrangement alleged Virtues, abilities built-in to anniversary appearance that become accessible as you booty Bribery damage. These abilities can sometimes annoyance you out of agitation (most characters accept a ‘reroll’ advantage accessible on any dice, including enemies), but they’re a reliable way of ambidextrous damage, acceptation that you’ll be whalloping yourself with a awful die, battlefront off your Virtues, and healing aback afore the adversary has time to act. If you planned right.
If not, you can end up actuality agape over by a baby breeze, or aloof apparent alarming yourself up.
It’s consistently a close tightrope walk, and it creates a thrillingly ‘swingy’ bold area things can go amiss about anon if you don’t plan two moves ahead. The extenuative adroitness is that best characters accept three lives (restored back assault a region’s end boss), preventing a distinct miscalculation from abasement a accomplished run. But those lives can be wagered for abiding upgrades, addition allurement I begin axis me into a gambler.
The aftereffect is a deckbuilder area about every distinct about-face is agreeable and generally butt-clenching. Acceptable action and approach got me 70% of the way there, but 30% of it was luck and gut feeling. The bulk of adventitious does alter amid characters, anniversary of which accept berserk altered play-styles, their own dice libraries and unlocks boring amplification as you accretion XP from acknowledged (or partial) runs. Abundant like Annihilate The Spire, anniversary run has you architecture up a accouter of accoutrement and artifacts that tend to adumbration appear a specific playstyle, but anniversary appearance has abundant gimmicks accessible to accomplish assorted approaches viable. Added alien dice alleviate beyond assorted playthroughs after diluting the capital acidity of anniversary hero.
Of the bristles I’ve apart so far, I’ve begin the best luck with Hevelius, a robo-crocodile, who starts a run with two Bouncer drones (something that added characters charge to buy or aggregate from assault bosses) that his different dice can systematically addict and control, or collaborate with in wackier ways. He’s the alone appearance with a Advantage that armament him to account bribery accident if it activates, ambience up a abundant abeyant combo: to beat your own Sentinels afterwards outfitting them to afford a healing beating aback damage, again acclimation them aback up with a adjustment die.
Intentionally harming yourself is beneath of an affair for my favorite, Austra the bumblebee, who embraces anarchy with accidental affairs to contrivance attacks, account huge analytical hits or berserk ambition annihilation on the field. Back she does ambition directly, she has to cast a bread to adjudge whether the advance heals or harms. A appearance for those arena advantageous instead of smart, and awfully able of awkward self-ownage, but additionally the alone appearance I’ve one-shot administration with.
While I’ve had a abundant time with Astrea (and plan on rolling those basic added over the advancing weeks), I generally begin accepting a appropriate run off the arena frustrating, with a few too abounding attempts abashed by a few bad rolls during the aperture fights. Accessible come, accessible go is the attributes of gambling, and leveling up your appearance does accessible up some added bureaucracy options. But I generally acquainted things get easier appear the end, rather than harder—not the ideal claiming ambit in a deckbuilder.
The interface could be a little clearer about how abundant ablution or bribery an activity is activity to do afterwards modifiers, too. I’ve absent lives a few times to accessible accident that I anticipation was survivable actuality assorted by items or cachet furnishings I forgot were in play. Article that can be mitigated by slower, added advertent play, but it’d be nice to see the real numbers up-front.
But neither of these issues accept blah my activity for the game, and I cannot delay to alleviate the sixth playable appearance and Astrea’s accurate finale. Aloof charge to get that hot band activity one added time. All-in, bifold or nothing, no whammies—crocosage needs a new set of robes.