Already in open beta and opening its doors fully in September, Asda Story is looking to leap into a world that can bring great profit or great heartbreak: the MMORPG market. With a free-to-download, free-to-play model accompanied by an optional cash shop, GamesCampus is a mix of the best of both worlds: spend money, or don't; the choice is up to the player. Asda is sure to surprise the jaded crowd: cute on the surface, Asda Story is an immersing, addictive experience.
As the player enters the game for the first time, they are guided through character creation, a quick and painless process. All characters start out with a generic introductory job, and the player is able to customize eyes, hair style, hair colour, as well as mixing and matching between eight different outfits. From there, the player can change their look by equipping a variety of armour. Each piece of equipment will be designated male or female, so players may need to do some judicious trading to find the items they desire.
At level 5, players do their first in a set of job quests. The three job archetypes are Warrior, Archer, and Mage; each job has three ability trees which the player may put points into at their leisure, but choose carefully! These points cannot easily be refunded. More importantly, unlike most MMORPGs, these talent trees are the only way to learn new abilities. Players must think carefully about their choices and character builds, as they will likely be making important decisions many levels in advance.
"Cute on the surface, Asda Story is an immersing, addictive experience."
Warriors take up the tank-type jobs, working with one-handed swords, two-handed swords, or spears. Each of their three trees has a certain bend towards one of these weapons, though all specializations have some abilities such as permanent HP boosts which do not require a specific weapon. Archers take up the steady DPS roles, and can focus on bows, crossbows, or ballistas. Each type of weapon has a different method of attacking, and their abilities do a great job filling in any little weaknesses as well as playing on the strengths of each. Mages are incredibly versatile, provide debuff, healing, and buffing to both themselves and parties. They are the only class which can learn effective healing spells and are sought after in singles or pairs to heal for instances. Unlike some other games, Mages are not without devastating offensive spells as well; the fire tree for example, while having no defensive spells, can be used to debuff the enemy so they receive additional damage not only from the mage but from all attacks. At level 24, each class can further specialize, unlocking deeper skills in each tree as well as better armour.
The quest system is simple and easy to follow; collect, discover, use, or kill being the typical goals. Quest items are automatically looted and kept in the quest screen, meaning inventory is kept clutter free; regular loot drops on the ground and needs to be picked up. Whenever certain items or a number of kills needs to be collected, updates flash in the centre of the player's screen. If a quest is being tracked in the quest window, completing the quest removes it from the quest window, letting the player know they need no longer seek that quarry.
The story is simple but gets the ball rolling; monsters are becoming more active, but nobody quite knows why. There are several micro story-arcs occurring during the game, including one hilarious set of quests requiring the player to seek out flea powder for a long-suffering canine in town. The first two dungeons players will experience (starting at 15 and 25 respectively) are both chess-themed and have thematic quests to go along as well. No MMO is going to be heavy in story, but what is there is done very well.
Getting around in Asda Story is incredibly easy. Players need simply click where they want to move to; this includes opening up the map and clicking anywhere on it. This is especially handy when a player needs to move large distances; a player can open up a map several zones away, click on their destination, and let the game autopilot their way there, including handling zoning portals. For those not content to use their own two feet, there are several conveyances available, including Nimbus and Tricycles, both of which will be available in the cash shop when it opens August 25.
Last, but not least, is the Soul Mates system, which allows two players to join Souls and accrue additional powers the longer they are Soul Mates. These extra abilities include a teleport spell, a healing spell either partner can use, and a special spell which allows an offline partner to gain experience so the two will stay on relatively equal footing even if one plays more than the other. While a Soul Mate is not required, their aid and assistance give players who link up an extra edge and a partner to enjoy the game with.
Asda Story is a game that demonstrates when Korean MMORPGs are localized well, they can be fun and competitive in the North American market. I'm expecting to play a lot of this game going forward, and anyone looking for a fun game to play alone or with some friends, the social aspects of the game should have no problems bringing players young and old to the game.