Astonishia Story

Unlike some recent RPGs, Astonishia keeps the menus and commands light. While exploring, a quartet of small pop-up icons handles the handy save-anywhere feature and offers access to status and item inventory. In battle, the icon roster expands only slightly to include important stuff like attacking, magic and heroic fleeing.

The actual combat seems to be quite approachable as well. It's essentially strategy lite, with characters acting in turns to move and attack. The player's party and their enemies maneuver on a tiled board festooned with a few basic strategic elements - such as trees - to block movement and offer cover. Each character has a generous move allowance, so combat doesn't have to take 30 rounds to resolve. While early enemies can be savaged with a few sword swipes, eventually the ability to wait and lead monsters into traps will come very much in handy.

The game's blend of simplified combat and exploration is well and good, but can it amount to anything more than a friendly nod towards games we've already played to death? We'll find the answer when the title is released.