Astor: Blade of the Monolith review

by on May 30, 2024
Release Date

May 30, 2024


While playing through Astor: Blade of the Monolith, I couldn’t help but be reminded of 2021’s Biomutant. Like Experiment 101’s game, Astor positions itself as an action-RPG but doesn’t quite manage to tick all the boxes on the checklist.

Like Biomutant, it’s set in a world on the brink of collapse, and features the titular Astor attempting to find out what happened to his creators. Stumbling upon the legendary Blade of the Monolith, Astor embarks on a quest to save his world. All of this is told without spoken dialogue, with the characters mumbling in a weird squeaky dialect that is translated via subtitle.

Also like Biomutant, Astor: Blade of the Monolith has a narrator to fill in the blanks and tell us what we’ve already divined for ourselves. “And so, Astor’s quest begins…” she says mysteriously, as we begin Astor’s quest. Much of the early portion is an exercise in frustration as the game constantly wrests control from you to show you another vista, or another cutscene instead of just letting you play.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith

Gameplay is split between questing through the semi-open world and fighting off groups of monsters that feels somewhat like a recent Legend of Zelda title, but without that same level of originality. Combat feels heavy and a little sluggish at times, even when Astor is doling out damage, parrying blows, and following up with Runic finishers.

A lot of the special moves come from the power of the Runic Blade itself, and allow Astor to conjure constructs and minions, which does mix things up in the later game. You’ll also be able to switch between several other weapons including a devastating hammer and a pair of fast gauntlets. The issue with combat certainly isn’t over variety, although enemy diversity is fairly thin. The boss difficulty owes more to the camera and Astor’s ungainly movements than the actual mechanics.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith

Exploring the world is somewhat rewarding, although Astor: Blade of the Monolith wastes a fair amount of real estate. I went exploring every new area and was usually rewarded with the same things, most often currency, which made the exploration itself feel a little dull. Often I resorted to simply heading straight for the objective marker, polishing off any side quests as I went, and then coming straight back. This, too, is a bit of a slog early on when you clear out enemies on the way to an objective and have nothing to do on the long run back.

If I sound down on Astor, it’s because I was perhaps expecting a bit too much. But the world doesn’t really feel fleshed out enough and I found it hard to care too deeply about the characters or what they were doing. It’s hard to form an attachment despite their overall cuteness, and the combat didn’t do enough to grab me. There’s simply not enough weight to your blows, and the odd control scheme doesn’t help. Why standard attack is on Y I don’t know, and I had to change it to the more Dark Souls-y alternate scheme, which was still a bit strange.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith

Astor: Blade of the Monolith is a pretty looking game though. The environments are bright and colourful, with enough detail and personality to set each apart and entice you to go exploring. From swirling desert sands to dark forests with luminescent foliage, each area has its own topography, even if most of the differences are aesthetic. As you unlock new abilities such as the double jump you’ll be able to explore these areas more thoroughly, allowing you to unlock even more special attacks and combos.

Despite the uneven combat, Astor can be a fun time. Once you’ve got yourself a mount to make exploration faster and you’ve unlocked a good selection of weapons, finishers, and special attacks, it becomes a much more enjoyable affair than the opening hours would have you expect. Those who chase big damage numbers might also appreciate the combo counter, which adds an extra dimension to the combat. It’s not a bad game by any measure, but it doesn’t really do an awful lot to stand out from the crowd.


Colourful world
Good selection of abilities


Forgettable story
World doesn't feel full
Combat is hit and miss

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Once you’ve unlocked a good selection of weapons, finishers, and special attacks, Astor: Blade of the Monolith becomes a pretty enjoyable affair.