post apocalyptic desert in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Astor: Blade of the Monolith Review — An Imperfect Whimsical Hack and Slash

Astor: Blade of the Monolith is an evocative and charming hack-and-slash adventure with plenty of bright ideas but sub-par mechanical execution.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith aims to blend Zelda-esque adventure design with Soulslike combat mechanics in a post-apocalyptic yet whimsical world filled with cute construct people. You’ll explore semi-open world areas and fight monsters in hack-and-slash fashion with different weapons, Construct abilities, and combos.

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C2 Game Studio managed to combine all of this action and adventure with a unique and appealing art style, so does Astor hold up well mechanically?

Combat Mechanics, Animations, and Enemy Variety

combat system in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Overall, the biggest selling point of Astor: Blade of the Monolith is the combat system, which houses the biggest advantages and disadvantages of the game. The basic idea is you have light and heavy attacks with up to four findable weapons. This is reinforced by various weapon combos, a ranged attack, and special cooldown-based Construct abilities, which are kind of like your ultimate moves. The game also has a Spirit Realm system, which I’ll elaborate on in the exploration section. However, it can also be used in combat to boost damage at a reduction of HP.

construct in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

To start on a positive note, while the game’s combat is slow to start off, you actually unlock plenty of tools to make fights interesting on your end. You have your weapon’s combos, like launching enemies into the air or performing powerful Runic combo attacks using mana. Then, once you unlock the ranged attack as well as your second weapon, the Gauntlets, and others down the line, your combat variety starts to look decent. You have plenty of different moves to juggle enemies, deal with groups, blast foes from afar, etc. Going into the Spirit Realm can grant you a damage boost and increase your mana regeneration, but you’ll lose some HP.

The base flexibility of different moves and quick weapon switching sounds fun, and, at times, it’s engaging to fight waves of enemies. However, things start to take a turn with just the basic act of attacking, moving, and camera control. Astor: Blade of the Monolith is quite a clunky game where your animation frames feel off, enemies don’t have proper telegraphed attacks, the lock-on feature feels off, and the heavy attack just doesn’t feel that responsive and fun to use. All of this makes fights feel quite awkward to maneuver, even though you have a dodge and a parry button.

gauntlet weapon in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

In short, the game gives you plenty of tools to use, which feels satisfying, and there’s plenty of flexibility. However, the clunky attack animations, camera control, and unbalanced damage numbers take away from the overall experience. It doesn’t help that you’re fighting almost the same enemy types across the various levels but reskinned. Even the bosses feel awkward with attacks that aren’t properly animated and telegraphed, so you can’t dodge or parry them in the most precise manner. Still, you can at least take them out with a lot of flashy moves if your personal animations don’t bug you.

Adventure, Exploration, and Level Design

Onto the next major point of Astor, which is exploration since this is a semi-open world game filled with smaller instances for you to explore. Some are linear, but some are open-ended, and you can roam around in different directions, completing main and side quests. Besides admiring the ambiance and landscape, which are honestly done quite well, there’s not a lot to get excited about in the level design.

spider mount in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

The quest markers point you to everything, so you’ll never have that sense of discovery of exploring something on your own. One of the biggest elements is the Spirit Realm mechanic. Astor can switch to the Spirit Realm at will, and certain platforms may appear or walls will disappear. This is the game’s way to hide secrets in levels. That said, it will always prompt you when a secret is near, so you don’t even have to look for them that hard, especially not in linear levels.

exploration in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

One element I do like about exploration is that you get a spider mount pretty early, which is just the cutest. Moving around with the spider feels satisfying, but most of the levels contain invisible walls, so you might not be able to go wherever you please. Invisible walls aside, the level design is mediocre. There’s nothing inherently bad about it, but it’s nothing amazing. Most of the open-world areas are vast but empty. The game works best in smaller hand-crafted linear sections. There are no Soulslike level design shortcuts, but the levels are at least interesting to look at, with plenty of neat lore-based visual terrain elements.

Artstyle, Story, Worldbuilding, and Music

One aspect of Astor: Blade of the Monolith where the game can be impressive is the visual design. I enjoyed Crystal Haven and many of the later hubs. The character designs are adorable, and the hubs can be charming in their own way. It’s just that I wished there was more dialogue and more ways to interact with the NPCs. Some will occasionally have dialogue, but I wanted to learn more about their settlements and stories.

ranged attacks in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Speaking of the story, the great conspiracy of Astor comes from uncovering the disappearance of the human makers, their post-apocalyptic event, and where the current antagonistic forces came from. While it’s interesting to hear about the world-building ideas behind Astor, the narrator of the game can be slightly irritating from time to time. Instead of you formulating your own thoughts and theories, the narrator always voices her opinions on you. This is the same problem from the exploration segment; the game won’t let you explore and immerse yourself on your own.

Still, the visuals remain evocation, and the music score is pretty decent. While the voice acting is simplistic, the respective themes of each level make for some neat compositions.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith Review — The Bottom Line

temple of soma boss in astor blade of the monolith
Screenshot by GameSkinny


  • Plenty of combat tools like different weapons, combos, and special abilities.
  • Various ways to approach combat encounters by utilizing your mechanical skill set in different ways.
  • Visuals and world-building are immersive and evocative.


  • Combat system and animations feel clunky, and the camera/lock-on isn’t the most responsive.
  • Enemy and boss animations aren’t well-animated and telegraphed, so dodging/parrying feels awkward.
  • Most semi-open world areas are filled with vast, non-interactable empty spaces.

Overall, Astor: Blade of the Monolith feels like a game full of great ideas that aren’t mechanically executed well. The combat system is full of neat tricks with different combos and weapon switching, but it feels awkward to use them responsively. The open-world areas look great and are fun to move through with the mount, yet most of them are empty in terms of interaction. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a casual hack-and-slash adventure with some neat story beats, Astor can be a decent experience, just don’t expect anything ground-breaking or mechanically exhilarating.

Gameplay tested on PC.

Astor: Blade of the Monolith Review — An Imperfect Whimsical Hack and Slash
Astor: Blade of the Monolith is an evocative and charming hack-and-slash adventure with plenty of bright ideas but sub-par mechanical execution.

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Gordan Perisic
From playing RPGs and dungeon mastering for his D&D group to reading novels and scribbling about his fantasy setting, Gordan is a full-time nerd and devoted writer for GameSkinny. He loves to overshare and discuss literature, music, animation, and trees with fellow geeks. Also, he may or may not cook too much food for his friends. Cholesterol is one hell of a drug.