Here is a review from the people at 1UP for the game Astonia III.
Astonia III is a game that will fool you. It looks like Ultima Online before UO stumbled its way into 3D graphics. It plays like Diablo before it fell into a bottomless pit of cheating and redundancy. It is a game you download from the Internet—a resolutely old-school game you download from the Internet, which, as we all know, means it is going to be a disappointing waste of your time. That's what you'd think. But, like I said, Astonia III is a game that will fool you.
If you have ever tried EverQuest or Dark Age of Camelot, this will knock your socks right off: Every combat comes as part of a specific quest given to you by one of the many NPC townsfolk you encounter. Every quest given to you will not only offer you enough experience points to raise multiple skills several times, but by the time you complete each quest, if you haven't earned enough points to make your next level, you could probably kick a toadstool over for the final two points. You never have to return to the same hallway in the same dungeon to kill the same mutants over and over again until you're killing them in your sleep. You can, but Astonia III will not force you to go out and farm for character levels. Go ahead and put your socks back on.
Astonia III is pretty solid, but it still leaves plenty of room for improvement should there ever be an Astonia IV. For example, the actual pace of the game is skill based. Astonia III starts you off at a snail's pace and if you don't like it, you can use your experience points to pick up the pace. Those who choose to make speed their primary skill can someday hope to achieve a brisk trot. This is a good thing because if you put that many points into your ability to get off your hands and knees and actually walk, you'll spend most of your time running for your life. If you forgo speed and raise your combat or magic skills, you'll find combat to be on the uncreative side. With little variety, you'll find yourself executing the same sequence of keystrokes anytime a monster appears within range.
One question I have to ask: Why are player levels in Roman numerals? I'm not Roman. Sure, I can handle anything below 25 or 30, but once you start sprouting an L and a C, and your level is longer than your character's name, you lose me completely. Your level may as well be written down in binary.
Astonia III does not have the pretty colors and music of EverQuest. It does not have the unlimited options of Ultima Online. And maybe it's this weird hybrid of styles that makes it so refreshing to play.
VERDICT: Astonia III shows that sometimes the old ways can be the best ways.
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