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Game Info:

Ash
Developed by: SRRN Games, OVERTURE
Published by: Circle Entertainment
Release date: April 28, 2016 (3DS)
Available on: 3DS, iOS
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Language and Violence)
Price: $3.99

Thank you Circle for sending us a review code.

Not many games that get ported to the 3DS from iOS are usually worth a second glance. Every once and a while a real gem gets ported over though. Ash is one of those gems.

Originally released in 2010, Ash was generally well received, with many praising its storyline and music.  Now six years later, Circle has brought this deceivingly simple RPG to the Nintendo eShop. On the surface this may look like just another RPG-Maker game, but SRRN have actually revamped the graphics since Ash was initially released.

The game begins with our main heroes, Nicolas and Damien, accepting a request from a village elder. Search the towns' mines for lost miners and report back. Simple enough. From here we're given free  movement to enter the mines and see what's happening. As this is a turn-based RPG, we're quickly introduced to the battle system. Every character gets a turn, with evasion determining who moves first. Early on, the battles are significantly more difficult than at any other point in the game. Nicolas and Damien are usually always pitted against 2-4 enemies. Luckily, every encounter can instantly be ran away from. This is absolutely necessary to know from the start.

Ash
Highlights:

Strong Points: Deep and engrossing storyline; Wonderful music; Character interactions are filled with wide ranges of emotions.
Weak Points: The difficulty can seem a bit unfair; Battles can become repetitive from a lack of special attacks; Movement through use of only the D-Pad; Aside from monster designs, graphically underpowered.
Moral Warnings: Violence; Some use of coarse language; Depictions of blood.

Talking to NPCs and exploring a little, more of the background story is revealed. It's also worth mentioning that nearly every object in the game can be "searched." Pressing 'A' will usually bring up multiple text boxes describing the object, and more often than not, they will contain an item. This is a classic feature that I adored from RPGs of the past. It really adds a layer of exploration on top of its already deep narrative.

The biggest fault of the game is there are no maps for any locations in-game. It's very easy to go down dead ends or get lost on the overworld. The continent of Aghaus is fairly large. With no indication of where to go aside from general directions. This can lead to some nice moments of exploration at the least. There is a lantern that brings you back to the last town you visited. This is essential to not have to walk back to town to stock up on potions or to rest at an inn.

It cannot be stated enough, but the music tracks that play during certain scenes are absolutely fantastic. There's really a sense of dread and hopelessness from the rather small soundtrack. The piano playing on the title screen really lets you know what you're in for right from the moment you turn it on. There are, however, some issues with the music. Mainly that with the volume turned up too high, the music begins to sound echoey and slightly compressed. This is most likely an issue associated with porting the game from iOS to the 3DS. 

Ash
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 83%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The story is the reason why you'll want to buy Ash. Nicolas and Damien both balance each other out through their personalities. Nicolas is always methodical about his actions, whereas Damien is the complete opposite. Attacking first to defend others without question. These two characters interact so fluidly that it's impossible not to become attached to them. Every interaction in the game is so well written. Each line of dialogue serves a purpose and I found myself, for once, not mindlessly skipping text boxes. I couldn't help but want to know more about Nicholas, and what exactly happened to him. The motivations of a man who has lost everything is beyond enthralling.

Morally, there are certain scenes that are pretty grim. Sprites of dead soldiers can be seen covered in blood, and some of the text language is a bit coarse. It should be made aware that Nicolas' intentions from the beginning are of revenge. He wants to kill those responsible for his family's deaths. There is no gore, and for a Teen rated game, things can be seen as fairly tame.

There are issues though. Some text can run outside of the box, and the music problems as previously mentioned. Also, movement is only possible by using the D-Pad, making movement with the 3DS' D-Pad rather cumbersome. Outside of these though, Ash is a solid RPG that is well worth the $3.99 price tag. With over 10 hours of content, there is plenty to see and do on the continent of Aghaus. This is not a game to be missed, and here's hoping we see the sequel ported over as well.

-Kyuremu

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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